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Snorkeling with crocodiles at Chinchorro Banks, Mexico

Snorkeling with crocodiles at Chinchorro Banks, Mexico
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Snorkeling with Crocodiles at Chinchorro Banks, Mexico

The world´s largest number of American crocodiles can be found South East of the coast of Mexico on the atoll Banco Chinchorro. The atoll´s isolated location has resulted in a well preserved ecosystem and was named a Biosphere Reserve in 1996. Scientists believe the crocodiles came to shore after the storms that ravaged the area over 1,000 years ago.

I left Cancun and drove south towards Xcalak. For six hours one straight line replaced the other and through the car window I spotted the holiday resorts Playa del Carmen, Akumal and Tulum. I stayed two nights in Xcalack to acclimatise before I continued the two hour boat ride to Banco Chinchorro, the largest and least explored diving destination outside the Mexican coast. The atoll is a continuous reef with three islands and six openings. About seven hundred crocodiles live in the shallow lagoon on the largest island, Cayo Centre.

Permanent accommodation on any island is prohibited. The local fishermen bypass the ban by building huts that stand on stilts in the water 60 - 100 meters from shore. My accommodation was in one of them without access to electricity and tap water. The crocodiles move fast in water but are also outstanding to slowly glide across the water and surprise their prey.

They came out of the lagoon through the mangrove when the fishermen cleaned their daily catch. The noise from the lobster cages has over the years become the signal to eat. The risk of being attacked was minimised by snorkeling with one or two at the same time.

A pair off swimming trunks, boots and a rashguard to protect me from the sun, allowed me to stay in the warm water for hours. The visibility in the water was excellent and my favorite lens this time was the fisheye.

Text & Photo Tomas Jansson | ScubaTravel