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Diving with Crocodiles in Botswana

by Dietmar W. Fuchs / Ocean Commitment Blog
05/04/2015

Photographic Recommendations
The best underwater lens for photographing crocodile is the 16-35mm or 14mm Canon or 14–24mm Nikon. DSLR full frame for both camera systems.Surface lens will vary from 70–200mm up to 300mm. In the water, strobes and video light are recommended at all times. You will be close enough to allow the light to reflect back from the crocodile’s bright eyes and its pure white row of teeth.There is also the opportunity to photograph the crocs resting on the riverbank followed by its racing into the water. We will set up fish eagle flying ops. There are also many hippos family either playing or sleeping in the water, standing on small beaches, in the thick papyrus vegetation, or hanging on river small beaches.

 

They have thick scaly skin that is heavily armored. An opportunistic apex predator, this aggressive species is capable of taking almost any animal. While their diet consists primarily of different species of fishreptilesbirds and mammals, the green-eyed Nile crocodile will attack any type of prey.  An agile, ambush predator, they can wait hours, days and or weeks for the suitable attack moment. They have an extremely powerful bite with sharp conical teeth providing a grip almost impossible to loosen. They apply force for extended periods holding prey underwater to drown. The crocs upper body is a dark bronze with black spots on the back, yellowish-green flanks with dark patches arranged in oblique stripes, and a dirty purple belly. A quadruped with four short, splayed legs, a long, powerful tail, a scaly hide with rows of ossified scutes running down its back and tail, and powerful jaws, like great white sharks, it has nictitating membranes to protect their eyes and cleanse them with tears. The nostrilseyes, and ears are situated on the top of the head, so the rest of the body can remain concealed underwater. 

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About the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) 

This African crocodile is second to saltwater crocodile as the largest extant (tall spines and sailed backs) reptile in the world. Widespread throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, they inhabit lakesrivers and marshlands, those covering most of the country of Botswana. The average size of the Nile crocodile is 13 feet (4.1 m), they weighing around 900 pounds (410 kg). 

Taking advantage of the crocodile’s habits, our days on the delta begin between 9 to 10 am so that we have an opportunity to view more basking crocodiles. The moment the croc seeks refuge underwater, we stop our boat a distance of approximately 100 yards. Quickly donning our tank over the 7mm wetsuits, we enter the water.Our descent is direct, we do not want to remain on the water’s surface, known as the croc’s “kill zone.” The reptile is attracted to subjects on the water surface, especially those (like our boat) that are silhouetted against the sun. Closely shadowing the expedition leader at the river bottom, with a safety diver following, light and camera in hand, we drift down current near the bank searching for camouflaged crocs resting as they hide in debris and weeds. Its body color and shape blends with the river’s dark soil especially near trees and papyrus debris. We move cautiously and quietly as we search. Whenever we spot a crocodile, the team leader makes a slow approach with the one guest remaining behind with the safety diver. When the “safe to approach” signal is given, the guest (perfect buoyancy is required for this adventure) moves side by side with the safety diver to a safe distance as indicated by the leader. 

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