Photographer and dive instructor Ricardo Castilo might have been looking for sharks when he dipped into the cold, clear waters of Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen National Marine Park, but what he got was a toothy predator of a different sort: a 12-foot (3 metre) crocodile.
The huge reptilian wasn’t showing any signs of aggression, so Castillo carried on shooting, swimming with the animal for nearly an hour.
“It’s about knowledge and experience,” he says, noting that he was careful to steer clear of the animal’s flanks (where he might startle it).
“The risk is always there, they are wild,” he told Grind TV. “But the most scary part is when you see all this incredible wildlife lose its habitat because of man’s depredation and contamination.”
Castillo has long been fascinated with the natural world and its inhabitants, inspired by an early love for the sea that he hopes to pass on through his work.
“I still remember the first time I watched the ocean,” he recalls. “That day it caught me. Any image that provokes a reaction of wonder in people is a small step towards saving the world.
My work is a constant search to show … the magic of being part of the underwater world.”
This article was first published by Earth Touch Network on 14 Jul 2015.