Our 2017 Mexican Crocodile Expedition in a Nutshell:
Spectacular! Great diving and consistent, world class crocodile encounters all day, everyday.
We nailed it again this year in Mexico. Before the trip, I was concerned about Hurricane Harvey. That enormous low pressure system threatened to tear right through the Yucatan, dashing any hopes we had of reaching Chinchorro.
Playing it safe, the Mexican coast guard sent an evacuation order to the fishermen in Chinchorro so they all raced back to the mainland. But, on our first scheduled crocodile day, the weather seemed fine so the port captain told us we could go over to Chinchorro as long as we remained ready to run if the weather deteriorated. Immediately, we eagerly set sail for the deserted fishing camp.
The lack of fishermen for a few days meant that the crocodiles were extra hungry; they normally eat the scraps when the fishermen clean their catch. So, as soon as we arrived the crocs came swimming out of the mangrove to our little hut on stilts. And they were ready to pose whenever we jumped in the water for the whole three days that we were there.
On that first day, the edge of Harvey did start to look a little menacing but other than a lot of rain that day, we didn’t have any serious issues. The rain kept the bugs at bay and the overcast skies made for some interesting moody shots that I haven’t been able to get before.
We split into three groups and rotated every twenty minutes so that everyone got lots of croc time. By the time each group of two dried off and had a drink, it was time to get back in so no one had a chance to get bored. Plus, it was fun just watching the action from the surface.
Each morning, we went diving on Chinchorro’s pristine reefs. We did this partly because it would be a crime to miss such lush diving and partly so that our dive masters could collect lionfish; invasive fishes that cause havoc to local ecosystems but are considered rather tasty by humans and crocodiles alike!
After the morning dip, we went back to our main task of snorkeling with crocodiles. We only had three at most at the same time, a good thing when you have to keep your eyes on all of them at once.
Once I had nailed some nice split shots of crocodiles, I asked each guest in turn to join me in the water for a souvenir shot that they could remember the trip by. The crocs sat patiently in position while I photographed each guest in turn.
Once the sun started to set we retired to the safety and comfort of the luxurious Chateau Chinchorro! 🙂
The fishermen’s shack may be a little primitive but the food and company were both excellent!
As usual, I was looking for a new photographic angle that I hadn’t seen before. When the encounters are consistent, thats great for everyone to get their shots but it doesn’t lead to creativity. Fortunately, this year our croc wranglers provided me with some awesome opportunities to photograph the crocs lunging out of the water. Luckily, I didn’t screw up the shoot as you can see from this dynamic shot of a breaching 8ft long American Crocodile.
After three days it was time to head back to the mainland but our trip was not over. We always schedule a day of diving in Xcalak as a contingency against bad weather. So on our last day, we dove on some lovely reefs with schooling tarpon and looked long and hard for manatees. We did find one rather shy manatee and briefly snorkeled with it between dives. Good fun if only for a few seconds 🙂
Before we knew it, it was time for a final group shot and the ride back to Cancun. Personally, I was sad it had ended but I am looking forward to coming back next August for another season with the crocodiles.
We all came home with epic tails (or tales) to tell 🙂