Snap Happy Alligators
By Rebecca Drew
STUNNING underwater shots showing a man bravely hanging out with 200-pound American alligators have been revealed as they happily pose for photographs together.
The incredible photographs show the three alligators crowding around the man’s head as they look directly at the camera and one even appears to sit on his lap whilst another reptile places a claw on his arm as it swims towards the surface.
Photographs taken from above the surface show animal handler, Chris Gillette (29) from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA holding an alligator out of the water.
The images of Chris were taken by Michael Dornellas at the Everglades Outpost Wildlife Rescue, Florida USA. To take the images Michael used a Canon 70D camera fitted with Aquatica underwater housing.
“People think of alligators as mindless killers but if you understand their behaviour it is possible to handle them in surprising ways, I wanted to show how calm and gentle these amazing creatures can be,” said Chris.
“The underwater shots are of wild gators I had never seen before this day, but with the proper experience and ability to “read” their behaviour it is possible to handle them like this.
“These are wild caught “nuisance” alligators, “nuisance” means that they are gators that have shown potentially dangerous behaviour, such as getting into backyards or eating a dog.”
According to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there are an estimated 1.3 million alligators living in the state.
Chris first started handling animals at the age of 15 and says that he has a passion for showing the friendlier side of creatures that are often perceived as dangerous.
“We had to be very careful, alligators are incredibly powerful with a bite strong enough to snap any bone in the human body, and on top of the jaw pressure and teeth, you are underwater and can easily drown if bitten,” added Chris.
“I love showing the more gentle side of predators, it is important to remember these are potentially dangerous animals and not tame or trained, but with enough knowledge about their behaviour it is possible to show their more calm and comfortable side when they are not being defensive.
“I hope people see these photos and realise alligators are not blood thirsty killing machines, that they are actually very calm and misunderstood creatures.
“I hope it replaces fear and inspires fascination and coexistence.”
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