The body of Sean Cole, a 26-year-old swimmer, and the crocodile that killed him have been recovered by Australian police from a notorious Outback river at the weekend.

Cole and a friend made the fatal decision to swim across the Northern Territory’s dangerous Mary River. They had been in the water a short time when a 15 foot crocodile snapped its jaws around Cole’s chest as fifteen of their friends looked on in horror from the bank.

Northern Territory wildlife ranger Tom Nichols told the press that Cole’s body and the dead crocodile floated to the surface early today. The crocodile was shot by rangers within hours of the deadly attack on Saturday, but it sunk away into the river before it could be retrieved.

The Mary River is a famous habitat for the dangerous reptiles and police are mystified as to why Cole decided to swim in it.

Cole had been celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday at the nearby Wilderness Retreat, a tourist destination southeast of the Northern Territory capital Darwin, which was the victim’s hometown, senior sergeant Geoff Bahnert told the press.

'Several of the group in the party witnessed Cole being taken in the jaws of the croc for a period of time, and then he was out of sight,' Bahnert said.

'The Mary River is known worldwide to have the greatest saturation of adult saltwater crocodiles in the world. You don’t swim in the Mary River,' he said. Alcohol may have played a part in their decision to take the swim, he said.

Police and a government crocodile management team reportedly arrived at the resort on Saturday, and an officer shot one of the largest crocodiles found in the area for the safety of searchers, he said.

'The advice to tourists is to come, look, take photographs and stay out of the water,' Bahnert added.

Crocodile numbers have reportedly exploded across Australia’s tropical north since the species was protected by federal law in 1971. The crocodile population is densest in the Northern Territory in the vicinity of Cole's fatal swim.

The body of Sean Cole (26) has been recovered after a crocodile attack in the Outback of AustraliaGoogle Images