Since the dawn of recorded history, few species on Earth have been so feared and reviled as snakes -- and likewise, perhaps, few others are as misunderstood in the public conscious, though the reasons why are obvious. From the opening pages of Genesis, to a 1997 blockbuster film starring Jon Voight, snakes have been depicted as cunningly diabolic, wrathful, and ruthless. But in truth, those evil serpentine atributes have about as much in common with real snakes as does computer animation or the ability to talk. The realities of nature, as it so often does, proves snakes to be far more fascinating than any work of fiction.
On a recent diving expedition in the Brazilian Pantanal, biologist and photographer Daniel De Granville had a chance to record the gentler side of snakes in the wild, coming face to face with a 23-foot-long anaconda -- and walking away only bit by a greater appreciation for them. In fact, Granville says that anacondas are actually quite shy around humans, and likely have much more to fear from us than we do them.
Granville, along with two underwater photography experts Franco Banfi from Switzerland and Jiří Řezníček, from Czech Republic, set out capture life below the waterline in some of Brazil's most untamed regions -- like in the Amazon rainforest and Brazil's sprawling Pantanal wetlands -- but no one expected they would get such an up close and personal look at such large anacondas.
"After all, in the first hours of our adventure – that included going down waterfalls with a boat loaded of heavy and expensive equipment, passing under fallen trees, walking through saw grass and coping with bloodthirsty black flies – we already found two huge Yellow Anacondas in perfect conditions for our job," writes the photographer on his blog, Photo in Natura.
The team managed to swim alongside the giant anaconda for nearly an hour, and at no point did it act aggressively with them.
"It's a very tolerant animal," says Granville.
When the photos seen here were first leaked onto Facebook, they quickly went viral among users in Brazil. As news site Globo reports, many commenters reacted to the images with a sense of disbelief. Granville, however, was quick to substantiate the incredible photos' authenticity -- adding that, while the snakes may be far less menacing than most people might think, it is still important to treat them with respect.
For more of Daniel De Granville's incredible wildlife photography, check out his blog Photo in Natura.