Most people probably wouldn’t want to take a dip in crocodile infested waters.
But for Roberta Mancino, an Italian model with a knack for adventure, swimming with crocodiles fulfilled a long held fantasy.
“I have a list of animals that I would love to swim with,” Mancino told FoxNews.com via emailing, explaining that she first thought of the idea in 2009. “I have been swimming with sharks for many years and I love underwater animals.”
Last month, Mancino traveled to a lagoon in the middle Banco Chinchorro, an atoll reef near the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. This secluded area is home to hundreds of crocodiles but tourists aren’t usually allowed to get so close to the animals.
“I had a small team of people helping me to get the best pictures in the safest way,” Mancino said. “I was very afraid. This is why we stayed long time in the water with those animals to learn a bit of their behave before getting too close.”
She spent five days learning about the animals from local divers and swimming with a mask before the big photo shoot. Often, she had to be in the waters for hours in order for the crocodiles to get used to her presence. And when several crocodiles would swarm around the group, the model turned stunt woman says she would stay on the boat for safety.
Shot by Eli Martinez, the stunning underwater photographs may inspire fear in some viewers but Mancino ultimately hopes the project will bring about greater respect for American crocodiles, which are usually between 8 and 13 feet long.
“Oftentimes predators are misunderstood,” Mancino explained. Though crocs appear big and scary, the model believes they shouldn’t be butchered for consumer items like handbags.
“What looks like a monster can actually be harmless and gentle if you show them love. By visiting them in their element, I hope the world can see what I see. Let’s respect and protect these ancient souls.”
There are opportunities for travelers to swim with crocs. In Australia, a theme park called Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin City offers visitors the opportunity to go face-to-face with a deadly 16ft-long crocodile. And there are diving companiesthat offer American crocodile expeditions. But most places warn people to stay away from croc-infested waters.
But for Mancino close encounters with jaws of death isn’t enough. In addition to swimming with crocodiles, Mancino enjoys sky diving all over the world.