Into the mouth of the caiman
Motionless but alert, a yacare caiman waits, ‘like a small tyrannosaurus’ for fish to come within snapping reach, says Luciano. Caimans are usually seen floating passively on the surface. Under the water, it’s another story. It’s this secret life that has fascinated Luciano ever since he first came face to face with a caiman while snorkelling. Once he’d recovered from the shock, he realised that the reptile was neither aggressive nor fearful – and that he could approach it. Luciano now regularly documents the underwater life of caimans in the shallow, murky waters of Brazil’s Pantanal (the biggest wetland in the world), which contains the largest single crocodilian population on Earth. Caimans can grow to be three metres in length. Most aren’t aggressive, but some individuals can be. ‘The safest way to get close is when they are concentrating on a shoal of fish,’ says Luciano. ‘While I was concentrating on this caiman emerging from the gloom, I had a field biologist with me all the time.’ The result was ‘the picture that’s been in my imagination since my father first showed me a caiman 25 years ago’.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II + Sigma 15mm lens + Kenko 1.4x extender; 1/100 sec at f4; ISO 400; Aquatica housing + dome port + extension ring; two Sea&Sea YS-110 strobes.
Pantanal wetland, Brazil