- Fearless Italian model travelled to a lagoon in the middle of Banco Chinchorro, Mexico, home to 700 crocodiles
- Spent 10 hours over five days learning about the reptiles and swimming with them before photo shoot
- Roberta Mancino said she was fulfilling a lifelong dream to prove that crocodiles are ‘not bad animals’
By Naomi Leach For Mailonline
Published: 11:43 GMT, 16 September 2015 | Updated: 14:11 GMT, 16 September 2015
A fearless daredevil diver came face-to-face with a four metre long American crocodile in an extraordinary photo-shoot.
Italian thrill-seeker Roberta Mancino fulfilled a long-held dream by swimming with the reptiles in the Gulf of Mexico.
Travelling 30 miles from the coast to a lagoon in the middle of the Banco Chinchorro – home to roughly 700 of the reptiles – Mancino was keen to learn about their behaviour.
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Filming over five days in June this year, she spent a total of 10 hours swimming with the crocodiles.
As the crocodiles became more comfortable in her presence, Roberta’s team were able to capture enchanting images of her just inches from the predators.
She said: ‘I have a list of animals which I would love to swim with, so it was one of my dreams to swim with crocodiles.
‘I have wanted to do this project for six years but I could never find someone to fund it because it is so dangerous.
‘I was about to go there myself without a sponsor and then social network TSU said that they would fund the production.’
The model added: ‘The other reason I couldn’t make it happen for a long time is logistics – it’s a really hard place to get to.
‘You have to go to Cancun and then drive for five hours and then you have to take a boat for two hours.
‘It’s in the middle of nowhere.’
She said: ‘Obviously I don’t want everyone to start swimming with crocodiles but I wanted to show that they are not bad animals.
‘I had to stay in the water for a long time to get an understanding of the animals – that is why you see me at first going down with a mask.
‘We spent around 10 hours in the water with the crocodiles to learn about their behaviour.
‘Once I knew the animals were comfortable then I did the shots without the mask.
‘Nobody really knew what would happen as no one has really done this before – spending that long, that close, next to a crocodile without a mask.’