WITH warning signs and spotlights at hand, rangers were searching for a crocodile at Shelly Beach on Friday night.
The Department of Environment confirmed it had received a report of a 2m crocodile in the water late on Thursday, and wildlife officers were returning at the same time in the hope of finding the reptile.
Nadia Taranto, a former Western Australia resident who spent 25 years living near known crocodile habitats in the Kimberley and Kununurra regions, reported seeing the crocodile about 20m offshore near the boat ramp.
She was walking on the beach with her son when she spotted something near the end of the drain pipe.
Expecting a dolphin to jump from the water, they moved in for a closer look and saw what Ms Taranto is certain was a crocodile, swimming parallel to the beach, facing Point Vernon.
The incident follows two other possible sightings at the Urangan Boat Harbour and Fraser Island's Kingfisher Bay Resort.
A spokeswoman for the department said while it was still rare for a crocodile to venture as far as Hervey Bay, reports could not be discounted, with at least one taking up residence in the Mary River and the nature of the species being to travel by ocean between creeks and rivers.
Fraser Coast Councillor Darren Everard was alerted to the sighting on Thursday night and received further reports on Friday.
He said the presence of a crocodile, be it confirmed or unconfirmed, would not stop him from going on his usual Saturday swim this weekend.
"Having done several ocean swims up north where there are crocodiles, it won't change anything for me here," Cr Everard said
"We live by the ocean ... we are visiting their habitat."
While wary of the concerns publicity could raise for tourism, Mayor Gerard O'Connell said public safety was paramount.
He said it was "entirely appropriate" for warning signs to be placed on the beach and urged residents to listen to the advice of rangers.
All crocodiles found south of the Boyne River at Gladstone are targeted for removal.
Crocodile sightings can be reported to EHP on 1300 130 372