Monday, February 14, 2011

Swimming with alligators: Snap-happy close-ups captured under water in the Everglades


Say cheese: Two alligators smile for the camera as they swim side by side in the Everglades National Park, Florida

Posing with what appear to be toothy grins, these alligators were captured in stunning close-up as they enjoyed a dip in the Florida Everglades.

Totally submerged in the murky water, photographer Jim Abernethy got within inches of the huge predators to capture the perfect image.

Brave Mr Abernethy, 52, even played snap with the creatures by copying the way alligators square up to each other in the wild.

He would raise his arm above the water, similar to the way an alligator raises its jaws - to coax the animals into opening their mouths for the 'killer shot'.

Luckily for him, the 200lb reptiles did not choose to clamp their razor sharp teeth on his arm instead.

Alligators are at their most unpredictable and dangerous while underwater.
'I gave them nicknames like "Fluffy" in the hope I would forget for a moment that they were hunters,' Mr Abernethy said.

'Some were actually quite friendly in an alligator way. Whenever I entered that lake the one called Fluffy would swim right up to me.

'If she came too close I would have to physically push her away with my lens.
'If any of them seemed to be showing threatening behaviour then I just got out of the water.'

Razor sharp: Photographer James Abernethy coaxed the alligators into opening their mouths by copying their behaviour in the water

Terror from the deep: An alligator flashes a toothy grin as he looms towards the camera in the murky water

Based in Florida, Mr Abernethy said he felt confident enough to enter the water because of his careful respect for alligators.

The most recent attack in the U.S. state was in July last year when teenager Tim Delano's hand was bitten off as he took a morning swim in a creek.

The 18-year-old, from Fort Myers, survived the attack by punching the alligator with his free arm until it let him go.

Hunters killed the alligator and retrieved his hand, but it was too damaged to be re-attached.

In a separate incident in November 2007, Justo Padron, 36, was killed by an alligator as he attempted to flee police officers chasing him for breaking into a car close to his home near Miccosukee Resort, Florida.

Thriving: Mr Abernethy said some of the alligators got a bit too friendly and he had to push them away with his camera lens

Mr Abernethy said: 'Large alligators will explode into action when they see viable prey.

'I felt safe as I was slightly larger than most of them and they rarely attack anything bigger than themselves.'

American alligators are more than 150 million years old.

Hunting by humans in the 20th century reduced their numbers heavily and saw them listed as an endangered species.

Strict hunting laws have since seen their population recover and thrive.

One million wild alligators live in freshwater rivers, lakes and marshes of Florida and Louisiana.

They commonly eat birds, raccoons, fish, turtles and snakes.

source: dailymail

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms