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Going for a spilt-level with a difference!

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#1 jtresfon


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Posted 13 September 2012 - 11:17 PM

A group of divers from South Africa and Belgium have just returned from a week long diving safari in the Okavango Delta. The focus of the trip was to dive with and photograph the Nile Crocodiles, but in this wild place you never know what might turn up.

After spotting a wild African bull elephant feeding on the river bank, we made a cursory check of the river for crocs and hippos then slid quietly into the water. We stood on a small ledge against the bank that gave us the option of simply stepping off into deep water and letting the current take us away if the elephant became upset. For 20 minutes the elephant fed quietly within just 30 feet of us. We kept low down in the water so as not to overly advertise our presence. Then he walked directly towards us and started to climb into the water, just 15 feet from fellow diver Steve Benjamin. Steve had his underwater housing and was keen to try for a split level. Doubilet and others have split levels of elephants in water, but in all cases these have been trained or tame animals and to the best of my knowledge nobody has done this with a wild African elephant for very good reason! The elephant filled his trunk with water, turned suddenly and gave Steve a thorough hosing as a warning to keep his distance, then plunged into the water and swam across the river. The water was slightly too dirty and the distance just too great with a fish-eye lens to get a split-level showing the elephant's legs under the water but still an incredible experience nonetheless.

This is my view from immediately behind Steve...
DSCF1990 edit SMALL.jpg

and here is the picture he took...


#2 Drew


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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:06 AM

Seeing how an elephant can hit 2.7m/s easily, I think it was wise of Stevie not to get any closer! LOL

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#3 gina


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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:41 AM

Both photos are fabulous! Glad everyone got through it safely.


#4 Alex_Mustard


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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:57 AM

When I saw this photo on Facebook the other day and then read Drew's post about someone getting badly injured taking a photo - I thought that they might be related. Very glad to hear that they are not.


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#5 jtresfon


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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:41 AM

Definitely nobody injured in the making of these 2 images... This was one of those rare and special encounters where the animal initiates and dictates the interaction. He had plenty of room to move away and chose to come and have a look at us. Although the picture showing the proximity of Steve and the elephant is fairly dramatic, it was the only time in the entire encounter that the elephant even acknowledged our presence. He turned, gave Steve a shower and went on his way. I have plenty of other pics showing him ignoring us but of course they don't hold the same impact value. Having grown up in Africa we are all very aware of the dangers of messing with an adult african elephant, but in this case there was never even a hint of anger, aggression or unhappiness, just a beautiful moment in time that is forever ingrained in my mind...


#6 loftus


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Posted 14 September 2012 - 03:43 AM

Very cool!
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