Meet the brave explorer who takes close-up photos of the anacondas lurking underwater in South America
Those with a fear of snakes may need to look away now.
Amazing images of one of the world’s largest snake species, the anaconda, have been revealed by a brave photographer and explorer. julian guntherwho dives underwater to get within inches of his massive subjects.
The Texas-based photographer’s images show anacondas – some measuring up to 7 meters (22 feet) – coiled around branches in the waterways of South America’s Pantanal tropical wetland region. Other shots focus on the heads of the snakes, revealing their forked tongues and glassy eyes submerged in the darkness of the water.
Taking such candid photos of these elusive creatures requires a great deal of planning, and awareness of the warning signs that snakes should be left alone. Julian, 44, tells MailOnline Travel: “To properly and safely interact with animals of this caliber, you need to do a lot of research into their behaviour, tendencies, warning signs and so on.”
It’s important to give anacondas an escape route and refrain from cornering them, Julian reveals. He says: ‘Adult humans are not on the anaconda menu. The only reason an anaconda would lash out at a human would be if you were harassing and/or cornering it with no escape. If an animal feels threatened and is given the option to fight or flee, wild animals will almost always take the option to flee.”
Stunning images of one of the world’s largest snake species, the anaconda, have been revealed by courageous photographer and explorer Julian Gunther.
The Brazilian-born, Texas-based photographer dives underwater to get within inches of his massive subjects.
Julian – who shares his amazing photography on instagram – says it’s a common misconception that anacondas are hyper-aggressive and will attack anything that comes their way, adding that “the movies that came out in the 1990s and 2000s didn’t help much.”
The 1997 horror film Anaconda starring Jennifer Lopez and rapper Ice Cube, which followed a team of filmmakers trying to track down a giant green anaconda, likely played a role in people’s unfounded fear of snakes. A blockbuster, it inspired several sequels.
Julian explains: “Anacondas will not actively hunt organisms like an adult human because it would be questionable whether they could consume an adult and there is a risk of serious injury if they try.” The only confirmed anaconda attacks on humans have been for defense or because the animal felt threatened, not intent on predation.
The photographer, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, says he enters the water “slowly and cautiously” once he sees an anaconda that he can photograph, explaining: “We don’t want to appear threatening and potentially scare off snakes.’
Julian’s images show anacondas coiled around branches in the waterways of the tropical Pantanal wetland region of South America.
Julian enters the water “slowly and cautiously” once he sees an anaconda that he can photograph. He explains, “We don’t want to appear threatening and potentially scare the snake away.”
It’s a common misconception that anacondas are hyper-aggressive and will attack anything in their path, Julian reveals.
“Adult humans are not on the anaconda menu,” says Julian, adding: “Anacondas will not actively hunt organisms like an adult human because it would be questionable whether they could consume an adult and there is a risk of serious injury to themselves. “. if they tried
In order to properly and safely interact with anacondas, you need to do a lot of research on their behavior, tendencies and warning signs, Julian reveals.
Sometimes anacondas can approach his camera in the middle of a shot, Julian reveals, but he makes sure to stay calm. He says: ‘If a snake starts to get close to you, which it sometimes does, let it happen and don’t make any sudden or jerky movements. Most of the time, he’ll walk over to inspect your camera, then walk away once he’s done.
However, he admits that his first encounter with an adult anaconda left him in a bit of a panic. Julian, who has also dived and photographed great white sharks and crocodiles in the past, says: “It is true that the first time I came face to face with an adult anaconda (six to seven metres/20 feet to 22 feet), I was nervous. When the snake turned in my direction, that definitely got my blood pumping, but I remembered what I had read and my experiences with other animals and just kept calm and let the interaction begin. The snake passed about 20 a 30 seconds moving his tongue over my camera and examining it, and then he casually withdrew to his previous position. At that point I knew he was comfortable with me and I was able to get closer more slowly to get more photos.”
Finding anacondas requires experience, but the fact that they are native to the Pantanal year-round makes the task a bit easier. Says Julian: ‘We try to time our expeditions around the dry season, which luckily is usually also when the weather is colder. Ideally, it should be a cold but sunny day, that way the snakes will be basking on the banks of the river and that makes them easier to see. One good thing about anacondas is that they are also territorial, so if you have seen a snake, particularly a large one, in a specific area of the river before, there is a good chance you will see it again in that area.
Julián, who has dual American and Brazilian citizenship, and his fellow explorers descend the Pantanal tributaries in aluminum boats, scanning the riverbanks and fallen trees to see if they can spot any anacondas. He says: ‘Snakes often hold on, in water, on submerged or partially submerged branches.
Anacondas are often nicknamed “water boas” because they spend a lot of time in the water. Even a 20-foot (6-meter) snake can be easily lost if it’s sitting in the river bed among some fallen logs. They often enter the water in an attempt to hide once they realize they have been spotted.
Sometimes anacondas can approach his camera in the middle of a shot, Julian reveals, but he makes sure to stay calm.
Anacondas are often nicknamed “water boas” because they spend a lot of time in the water, Julian notes.
Recalling the first time he saw an anaconda, at the zoo as a child, Julian says, “I remember being absolutely blown away by seeing these gigantic reptiles.”
What has surprised you the most about shooting these snakes? Says Julian, “Without hesitation, their docile nature…every large anaconda we encountered inspected us and then ignored us, or didn’t bother to inspect us at all and just ignored us completely.”
Julian first encountered an anaconda as a child, one day at the Rio de Janeiro zoo. He says: “I remember being absolutely blown away by seeing these gigantic reptiles… Adult anacondas are already huge, but even more so from the eyes of a four-year-old.”
Later in life, his curiosity about the creatures grew. He says, “I’ve read a lot of Brazilian myths and folklore about anacondas and other animals, and I’ve always been fascinated by being able to see them up close.”
Photographing reptiles and sea creatures in their natural habitat has become a lifelong passion for Julian, who often goes hiking with his wife, and the couple pass their love of wildlife on to their daughter.
He says: ‘As our daughter gets older, she will eventually join our trips. She is almost four years old and tonight at dinner she was telling me that she wants to “go with dad to see the manatees and the sea lions”.’
For more information on Julian, visit his instagram profile and his Youtube channel.