The photographer takes part in free diving with orcas.They took amazing pictures while doing it.

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A photographer joined a group of killer whales in the water and took breathtaking pictures of these majestic creatures in their own home.

Dan Zafra, who works for Capture the Atlas, expressed that there are no words to fully convey the extraordinary experience of observing and taking pictures of orcas underwater.

According to him, Norway is the exclusive destination worldwide where you can embark on dedicated excursions that revolve around swimming alongside these remarkable marine mammals.

Baitball hunt
Spyhopping

Certain rules must be followed when swimming with orcas in Norway. For instance, scuba diving is prohibited, and only snorkeling is allowed. Additionally, it’s important not to approach or be on top of bait balls of fish, as this can pose a risk, not primarily for the orcas but due to the presence of humpback whales that also hunt in these waters.

Orcas are highly smart animals, and there haven’t been any known instances of them attacking humans in their natural habitat, although there have been a few rare incidents involving boats recently.

According to Zafra, some of the encounters were brief when the orcas were searching for food and quickly passed by. However, there were also longer encounters when the orcas, particularly the curious young ones accompanied by their mothers, came closer to us.

Baitball feeding

The most thrilling experience, however, was witnessing the orcas hunting something called “bait balls.” These are enormous groups of herring that the orcas encircle together. They use their tails to stun the fish before devouring them just a few feet away from us. Watching them hunt as a group was an extraordinary and memorable sight.

Zafra expressed his desire to dive with the orcas because they are his wife’s favorite animals, and it has always been her dream to swim alongside them.

The photographer mentions that while there are various locations where you can spot orcas from boats, only a few places provide the opportunity to come across them while kayaking or swimming by chance. However, the Northern Norwegian fjords stand out as a unique destination that consistently offers reliable encounters with these magnificent creatures.

After spending several years planning the logistics, we finally managed to make it happen, and in November 2022, we embarked on our first trip.

Being a professional landscape and nature photographer, Zafra eagerly embraced this extraordinary opportunity. He made sure to bring his Sony a7 III camera, which had been astromodified by removing the LP filter. This modification allows him to capture more light beneath the waves, enhancing his ability to photograph the orcas in their underwater realm.

Zafra adds that during this time of year in the fjords, there isn’t much natural light available, and it becomes even dimmer underwater. Therefore, he recommends using a camera with excellent low-light performance to capture high-quality images in such conditions.

Zafra housed his camera in an Ikelite housing, which not only protected the camera but also accommodated a Sony 20mm f/1.8 lens. Additionally, the housing had enough space to fit a 35mm f/1.4 lens if needed.

Zafra enthusiastically describes swimming with orcas as an extraordinary experience that he highly recommends to anyone who is interested in sea mammals and unforgettable wildlife encounters. It is a truly otherworldly experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Zafra believes that swimming with orcas will likely gain popularity in the future. However, the duration of the orcas’ presence in these fjords remains uncertain, as they follow the migrating herring schools of the North Atlantic.

Zafra is currently organizing a photo tour that offers the unique opportunity to swim with orcas while also capturing the mesmerizing beauty of the northern lights. For more information and details about the tour, please refer to the provided link.

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