Photo essay: Freediver dances with killer whales in Norway's Arctic waters

Arthur Guerin-Boeri travelled to the snowy island of Spildra to see the majestic creatures

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World champion freediver Arthur Guerin-Boeri glides through Norway's Arctic waters to rub shoulders with killer whales.

The Frenchman is in the icy waters of Kvaenangen Fjord, off the island of Spildra in the Scandinavian country's far north, plunging to depths beyond 15 metres. This is where whales come to hunt herring.

"I'm in the water next to two super-predators that accept me. It's majestic," the 38-year-old told AFP after his first such dive with the mammals.

"They move in a synchronised way, in a kind of ballet. I'd like to follow them but it's impossible, they move too fast and rapidly leave me behind."

Guerin-Boeri is a five-time world champion in the dynamic apnea category of competitive freediving. He can swim more than 100m underwater and hold his breath for several minutes, but he's hoping to push the perception of freediving beyond sport and performance.

He spent a week diving off snowy Spildra, a tiny island in the Arctic Circle, aiming simply to watch the creatures and pursue "the excitement of making a discovery". His dives, he said, lasted no more than "about 30 seconds".

He said it was an "unforgettable memory" and plans to return next winter.

"In this environment, you forget the fatigue, the cold, the apprehension. And when I reach the surface to breathe again, there are ice-covered cliffs around me ... you're surrounded by beauty," he said.

"I want to return to the essence of freediving: the exploration of the undersea world, making discoveries, and I have been given a treat."

Updated: February 03, 2023, 6:01 PM