September 5th, 2017
By Stacy Gold
Seconds before this image was taken off the coast of Cuba, Jennifer Hayes was facing the other way. Her partner, David Doubilet, saw the crocodile approach. Doubilet made a loud noise through his regulator and began swimming toward her as he watched the crocodile get closer. Hearing his alarm, Hayes said she turned around to, “greet my reptile visitor just inches away from my face. I was both surprised and pleased. I think I mumbled, ‘well, look at you beautiful’ and began taking his portrait.” The crocodile lingered a few short moments and then continued its lazy journey downstream.
“It was an encounter you hope for on assignment. When you are inside the moment, not afraid but thrilled to see such a creature so close on their terms,” said Hayes.
This area of Cuba is an archipelago of islets, mangroves and reefs located fifty miles south of Cuba that is both isolated and protected. The healthy reefs are bustling with an intact food chain from the smallest snapper to large healthy shark populations. It’s uplifting to hear a story of this incredible encounter and ecosystem success.
Browse more images of Cuba’s coral reefs available for licensing by David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes here.