Photographer David Gonzalez Buendia released a video (below) on March 13 of a diver swimming with killer whales off the coast of Tromso, Norway.
Buendia got this opportunity by joining a sailing expedition on a vessel named the Barba. Marine biologist Andreas B. Heide led the trip in November, reports The Local.
The diver in the video is the captain of the ship, while the person seen paddle boarding and kite surfing is Kari Schibevaag, according to the Barba website. Buendia only had a 2 hour window to film the whales before nightfall.
Buendia also filmed the famed Northern Lights, which included kite surfing under the colorful glows, notes The Local. It is reportedly believed this image is the first of its kind.
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The Barba website says that it will work towards publishing more video, and making a documentary as the final goal.
Buendia recalled his experience on his YouTube channel:
During the shooting of a documentary in arctic Norway, we got up close and personal with killer whales. Rather than ferocious killers, orcas are gentle and inquisitive, at least when it comes to human encounters.
Hundreds of orcas and humpback whales gathers in the Tromso region in the period of November to January, to feed on the overwintering herring.
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Buendia told The Local via email how he got this unusual opportunity to film the orcas up close:
I got an email one evening, where Andreas, the captain, was looking for a photographer to join for a week trip to help to film a documentary about human interaction with orcas in Arctic Norway.
I replied telling them about me, my work, and my skills. Five minutes after I got a phone call. Ten minutes later, I was on board.
I was more excited than scared, even though I was aware of the potential danger of the killer whales, the biggest predator in the ocean. I’ve been diving for many years, but never before with orcas.
Once in the water I got amazed of how magnificent these animals are in the water: gentle and at the same time really powerful in their moves. I notice that the orcas are really aware of our presence, but it seems not to disturb them at all.
The orcas usually live in the Antarctic, but there are also about 3,000 killer whales that live in the Barents and Norwegian sea, per the Norwegian Polar Institute.