As divers, we love underwater encounters with all animals, even those ones people say are dangerous. But, crocodiles...? Would you want to be in the ocean face to face with them?
Here at Girls that Scuba we are always up for trying something new and learning more and more about the ocean and the animals that live within it, so when we heard about crocodile encounters at Banco Chinchorro in Mexico, with XTC dive centre and Yucatan Dive Trek we were definitely intrigued to find out more.
Is it dangerous to swim with crocs in Banco Chinchorro?
Yes. Let's not sugar coat it. We know this is your first concern, so we are addressing it straight away. Crocodiles are wild animals, and we are not - and nor do we want to be - in control of their actions. However when these sort of interactions are executed in a safe and regulated manner without causing distress to the crocodiles, then yes it's safe.
But, again, they are a wild animals, and this does not mean you should jump in the water with a crocodile at all.
A "croc handler" (although we think they should be called something like croc safety guide, as no physical handling is involved) is in the water with you at all times. They will hold a wooden stick in case of any unforeseen actions from the crocodile.
The crocodiles are not touched by the humans or the sticks and are completely respected and not disturbed.
And if the crocodiles want to touch the humans? Well, the humans aren't sticking around. It's all about mutual respect.
Why swim with crocodiles?
Much like sharks, or other "dangerous" animals, crocodiles are feared by humans. But we are an extra special kind of human. We are scuba divers. As scuba divers we have an intense urge to learn more about the environment we dive in and observe the animals in the ocean. Why dive with crocs? To have the opportunity to be in the presence of a prehistoric animal, to feel the adrenaline and to experience something you can't experience anywhere in the world.
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What type of crocodiles are they?
In Banco Chinchorro you will be swimming with American Saltwater crocodiles - not to be confused with the American alligator. The American crocodile is one of the larger crocodile species. Males can reach lengths of 6.1 m, weighing up to 907 kg . American crocodiles do not regularly attack large animals, as most large crocodilians do. Fish, reptiles, birds and small mammals make up the majority of their diet. Like any other large crocodilian, the American crocodile is potentially dangerous to humans, though it tends not to be as aggressive as some other species.
How close do you get?
This close. Very close. You'll be having some serious eye contact.
How can I swim with crocs?
There is only one dive organisation in Mexico where you can organise to swim with crocodiles XTC Dive Centre from their dive centre in Xcalak and Yucatan Dive Trek - their sister company that organises the logistics. They incorporate the croc experience with other scuba destinations to make one epic trip. Included in their packages are swimming with whale sharks, cenote diving and diving in Xcalak (manatees and tarpon fish). Check out their itineraries and decide which one of their amazing trips is the one for you. You can also book your croc experience and Yucatan trip with dive companies who offer this service. We joined Dive Ninja Expedition croc trip which they run annually another company that runs these trips yearly is Big Animal Expeditions.
All pictures by Jay Clue from Dive Ninja Expedition.