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When Prof. Massimo Simion goes on vacation, he’s not interested in just sitting on the beach and relaxing, though being near the water is a must. This thrill seeker wants to dive with the sharks, swim with the crocodiles and photograph the wildlife around him—even when that wildlife isn’t exactly friendly.
Italy-based Prof. Simion, known as the “father of bone regeneration,” has worked as an underwater photographer for about 15 years, merging his love of nature and filming into one hobby. He enjoys taking pictures of big, dangerous animals, including the notoriously mean hippopotamus.
“You can take pictures that have not been taken before,” Prof. Simion said of what he loves about his hobby. “And, of course, adrenaline has a role in what I do.”
Part of capturing images of these animals is knowing when it’s relatively safe to do so, or at least not quite as dangerous. For the hippos, that meant a photo shoot in shallow, crystal clear water. Prof. Simion was in his late 20s when he traveled to Kenya for this project, where he met about 10 hippos in water that was a meter and a half, or about five feet, deep.
Hippos are the most dangerous animals, Prof. Simion said, and won’t hesitate to attack and kill humans when they get too close—which is why he is one of only three or four people in the world who have successfully captured images of hippos underwater.
“When I tried to take pictures using cables that was impossible because they were too smart, so I ended up just going in the water and free diving and getting close to them and taking two or three shots,” he said. “When they started to attack me, I immediately had to run away and get to shore because they won’t follow you outside the water. That’s probably the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done.”