If you are a person who likes swimming around underwater (and chances are good that you are), then you are a person who knows that the number of fascinating things down there beneath that shimmering surface is almost unbelievable. Creepy, slimy, spiky, cute, beautiful — you name it, it’s down there. And if you’re in a river in Brazil, you’d be lucky (or unlucky, depending on your opinion about snakes) to come across something that’s a mix of all those things: a giant anaconda.
Bartolomeo Bove is a professional shark diver and underwater videographer, so situations that might make the average swimmer a little uncomfortable don’t send his heart all a-flutter. Still, though, when a 23-foot anaconda licks the lens of your camera, you know you’re getting some pretty interesting footage. Back in July, Bove, along with his diving partner, Juca Ygarape, traveled to Brazil’s Formoso River, one of the only places in the world with clear enough waters to dive with anacondas.
The one they found is a female that’s estimated to weigh around 200 pounds. Anacondas, as you likely know, are not venomous. They’re a constrictor, which means they simply squeeze their prey to death. “The anaconda swims calm and peaceful, completely indifferent to our presence,” Bove told The Dodo. “Sometimes she comes closer, curious about my camera, licking the lens… The behavior of the anaconda debunks the myth that it is an aggressive and violent creature that can endanger people’s lives.”
But is a very large creature, and like some species of sharks, shouldn’t be treated like its harmless. “It is without a doubt an extremely strong predator and the largest of all snakes that can react if threatened or molested,” Bove continued. “[She is] to be treated with a lot of respect.”