Woman Swims Naked With Beluga Whales Beneath the Waves

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Image: Viktor lyagushkin

As white whales frolic beneath the waves, a strange presence becomes apparent in their midst: a woman is swimming naked beside their flukes in the icy cold waters of Russia’s White Sea. She cavorts with the whales, an alien in an underwater world – and yet also not so different from these beautiful ocean creatures that seem to smile so. What’s the story behind these strange yet stunning photographs? Let’s find out.

Because whales like belugas sense objects through echolocation, Russian marine experts felt that taming these mammals of the deep – which were headed for a dolphinarium – would work better if their instructor were naked. Hence we have these incredible images, taken by Viktor Lyagushkin, of Natalia Avseenko, 36, in her baby suit and skin to skin with the white whales.

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Image: Viktor lyagushkin

For Natalia this was no simple task of just stripping off and getting naked for a skinny dip. The temperatures in the White Sea at the time were -1.5 degrees Centigrade, and Natalia had to free dive. Those temperatures would normally kill a human after 5 minutes, but Natalia is a world champion free diver and yoga expert who uses meditation techniques to handle the freezing cold and hold her breath. She stayed in the water for an astonishing 10 minutes.

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