Banco Chinchorro, located off the southeastern coast of Quintana Roo in Mexico, is renowned for its rich coral reef ecosystem and diverse marine life. Among the unique creatures that call this area home are the American crocodiles, which can be observed residing in the reefs. While many people fear encountering crocodiles and avoid swimming in waters where they are known to inhabit, Bartolomeo Bove has a different perspective. In July 2020, Bove ventured to Banco Chinchorro with the intention of diving with these formidable creatures.
Banco Chinchorro is home to over 500 American crocodiles, making it the densest population of its kind in the world. These crocodiles are considered to be genetically pure due to their isolated location. They can be found in a lagoon near the atoll’s central island, and surprisingly, they have a harmonious relationship with the local fishermen who stay in stilt houses during the lobster season.
The fishermen often discard leftover fish scraps into the waters, which the crocodiles feed on. Bove interacts with these powerful and highly intelligent animals in the pristine waters beneath the stilt houses, approaching them in a safe manner. He approaches them directly in front of them or at their same level, which he believes is the reason why he has never been attacked by the crocodiles.
Bove describes his experience of diving with the crocodiles as “extraordinary” and “breathtaking.” He expresses awe at being in such close proximity to these creatures in their natural habitat. However, he also emphasizes the importance of never taking your eyes off the crocodiles if you were to ever swim with them.
In conclusion, Banco Chinchorro, with its dense population of American crocodiles, provides a unique opportunity for divers like Bartolomeo Bove to interact with these fearsome creatures in their natural environment. Bove’s approach of respecting the crocodiles’ space and behavior has allowed him to have a mesmerizing experience diving with them, showcasing the beauty and diversity of Banco Chinchorro’s coral reefs and the creatures that call it home.