By Shannine O’Neill
THIS COURAGEOUS diver risked life and limb to capture up-close, astonishing shots of saltwater crocodiles spanning over 12-feet.
One photograph shows the photographer as so close to the mouth of the crocodile, that he was able to place his hand on the side of the 600-pound beast.
Another daring shot shows a crocodile jumping out of the Caribbean Sea to chomp down on some lionfish, right before the photographer.
TV Journalist and Author Christian Kemper (49) from Berlin, Germany dove into 25 degrees Celsius water in Banco Chinchorro, Mexico to get up close and personal with seven fierce and deadly crocodiles.
With only snorkel equipment, a camera, and a go-pro between him and the crocodiles, Christian lured the mighty beasts by feeding them lionfish in order to get as close as possible to the animals, so close in fact that Christian described how he could have “kissed them face to face.”
“Am I insane? A little bit. I like to call it a calculable risk”, he said.
“Many of my friends told me ‘You cannot dive with crocodiles, they will kill you!’, after I told them I would scuba dive in Mexico with wild crocodiles.
“Well, I’ve already dived with white sharks and then returned home alive with all my body parts.
“But my knowledge, at least as far as the crocodiles are concerned, is purely theoretical.
“That’s why I wanted to get in the water with them, to better understand their behaviour and show people that crocodiles aren’t bloodthirsty killers.”
After publishing four books about sharks and one about crocodiles, Christian knew that he wanted to put his theoretical crocodile knowledge to the test and swim alongside them in the largest atoll reef in the northern hemisphere, located off the extreme southeast coast of Mexico, which takes over five hours to get here by boat.
The response Christian got from others about his adventure to Mexico didn’t deter him from his mission, as he was determined more than ever to bond with the indomitable crocodiles.
“Crocodiles are wild and powerful, also scary and make viewers go ‘wow!’ when they see them”, he said.
“But being so close, I had an amazing, almost spiritual experience.
“I felt blessed and satisfied.”
“When people see me doing this, they are astonished and admire me, they think I am very brave but also crazy.”
Christian spent four days swimming face-to-face with the crocodiles, during which time he gained profound experience and knowledge about the way crocodiles act and live, making him feel bonded and close to the magnificent animals, even naming a few that made an impact on him.
“One of the biggest ones at 11-feet was called Gambit, he was well known and scared all the other crocs away, but he was quite docile”, he said.
“It was fun being in the water with him because he was like ‘ok guys, I know the game, I get fish and you can take your photos!’.
“Then there was Cut Tail, who had only half a tail through fighting, and Bobo and Pinto.
“Pinto was lighter in colour and easy to distinguish from the others.
“On the last day, another big crocodile showed up for the first time, we called him Godzilla, he was even bigger, at 12- feet, than Gambit and looked fierce.”