Ricardo Castillo of Mexico was snorkeling off Cuba in hopes of capturing underwater photographs of sharks. Instead, he encountered a dangerous species with a different type of jaws: 12-foot-long crocodiles.
So he started taking pictures.
The result was amazing close-up images of a sea creature that features the strongest bite of any animal on Earth.
Castillo, 39, a diving instructor and expedition leader, was snorkeling in the mangroves of the Gardens of the Queen marina park when he literally came face to face with the crocodiles.
"I was there to take shark pictures and the crocodiles just happened to be there," Castillo told the Daily Mail. "I was in the water to get these pictures. It is usual to snorkel with crocodiles in this place."
Castillo told GrindTV in an email that the crocodiles were never aggressive and he freely swam with the crocodiles for 60 minutes, all without a safety diver.
"When you see the crocs and the size of them you just need to stay all the time in the front or the back of them, never to the side because it is very easy for the croc to bite someone then," he told the Daily Mail.
"I was very close to it. I used a 14mm lens and the croc touched the lens dome of the camera."
People who see his photos call him crazy. But Castillo wasn't scared and didn't feel like he was crazy. He told GrindTV the "most scary part is when you see all this incredible wildlife lose its habitats because of man's depredation and contamination."
Castillo was born in Mexico City. He first saw the ocean in Acapulco Guerrero, Mexico, when he was 10 years old and said, "There I caught the sea." He has devoted his life to exploring the sea ever since.
"I always say that diving with sharks or crocs is not about courage or bravery, it is about knowledge and experience," he told the Daily Mail. "The risk is always present, they are wildlife. But if you learn to see their behavior you can predict what is happening.
"The thing is to recognize the time to get out [of] the water [to be] safe."
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