Face to Face – Up Close with Mother Nature
Face to Face – Up Close with Mother Nature is a collection of author/photographer Al Hornsby’s most exciting underwater and topside wildlife encounters, as captured through his camera and words. With forwards by two longtime friends and dive buddies, Jean-Michel Cousteau and Amos Nachoum, the colour and B&W images feature sharks, whales, mantas, crocodiles, grizzly bears, leopards, cobras and many more of nature’s most lovely and exciting creatures. In the accompanying text, Al’s first-person impressions of the encounters that led to the images, share his feelings and emotions during those oft-times intense, face-to-face moments.
Read on for an exclusive short story from Al’s wonderful book!
Nile Crocodiles – Okavango Delta, Botswana
We’ve just hit the bottom in the river’s mid-channel, deep in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, Africa. Weighted for a heavy, simultaneous entry – there’s no time allowable on the surface when silhouette-hunting crocodiles are near – the three of us (two guides and me), go through a now well-practiced, routine: trying to stay together in the one-to-two-meter visibility…all while scrabbling and holding on across the clay and sand bottom in order to avoid simply being swept away in the cold, two-knot current. We work to reach the eroded edge of the river bank near (hopefully) where, minutes before, we had seen our quarry slide into the water as our boat approached.
Near the bank, in three to six meters of water, the rolling bottom has become a gloomy, green labyrinth of submerged trees, roots and logs. Always moving fast in trying to locate our prey before we have drifted too far down-current….all the while straining our eyes….looking for a tell-tale, crocodilian shape… or, two rows of seemingly disembodied, pearly white teeth that glow oddly in the dark water.
Perfect camouflage is a funny thing. Its effect is that you go from intensely looking for something to suddenly (shockingly in this particular case) becoming aware that you are already staring at just what you have been searching for. And, when that something is a nearly four-meter Nile Crocodile, that sudden awareness hits you like a bolt.
I suddenly become conscious that right in front of me is a shape, a creature, that somehow just doesn’t make sense to my psyche. It simply looks like nothing I have ever seen underwater before. And, its scale is massive: its features over sized, with huge jaws and curving, protruding teeth; an enormous, lobed tail that makes up much of the body’s total length; strangely-large legs and feet, at the moment with long, black claws thrust deep into the bottom holding fast against the current. And the eyes…The animal simply exudes strength, power, hunger…
For more stories like these, check out Face to Face – Up Close with Mother Nature now! Available in both hard-cover and digital editions at www.alhornsbyproductions.com.
Al Hornsby is a well-known dive professional, diving and wildlife photographer, author, and environmentalist. With four books to his credit, Al is a regular contributor to international dive magazines. Al is a longtime executive (currently Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs) for PADI; former Editor/Publisher of Skin Diver magazine; former President of the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association; and a founder of Project AWARE, an environmental organisation. Don’t miss out on his work here.