Spanish photographer David Gonzalez Buendia, who moved to Tromsø in 2013, was given the opportunity to film the animals when he joined marine biologist Andreas B. Heide’s sailing expedition in November 2016.
Using the sailboat and a paddle board as well as free diving to approach the whales, Buendia began filming the breathtaking interactions on his second day on board Heide’s ship, the Barba.
The photographer and filmmaker recorded a series of sequences with the whales between November 17th-24th 2016 around Kvaløya, near Tromsø.
Video: David Gonzalez / www.buendiaphotography.com
One of the ocean’s most recognisable creatures, orcas, also known as killer whales, are found mostly in the Antarctic, but around 3,000 of the whales live in the Norwegian and Barents Sea, according to the Norwegian Polar Institute.
With only a two-hour window in which to film the whales due to the onset of the polar night, Buendia was also able to record dazzling images of the Northern Lights, including one of his shipmates kitesurfing under the aurora – thought to be the first time such an image has been captured.
@karischibevaag kiting under the northern lights in Tromsø, northern Norway. #karischibevaag #barbaboat #mittnorge #visitnorway #visittromso #tromsolove #redbull #ig_nordnorge #nature_of_our_world #loves_arctic #adventuretime #auroraborealis #naturephotography #natgeotravel #natgeoadventure #rrdinternational #rrdwetsuits #kitesurfing #kitesurfingworld #kiteboarding #northernlights
Buendia told The Local that his participation in the expedition happened almost by chance.
“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,” the wildlife photographer wrote in an email.
Buendia said that he was not afraid when swimming with the whales, which can reach up to nine metres in length and 5,500 kg in weight.
“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,” he wrote.
Photo: Andreas B. Heide / www.barba.no
"I notice that the orcas are really aware of our presence, but it seems not to disturb them at all,” he added.
Buendia told The Local that the video was “just a resumé” of his experiences filming the orcas.
“Every day was a mind-blowing one,” he said.