Jacques de Vos is an underwater photographer who spends most his time freediving with orcas.
Helped by his crew, this South African became an expert in finding these incredible creatures in the ocean and spending a few seconds swimming with them underwater.
We followed the man who freedives with orcas on one of his most beautiful expeditions, completed recently in Norway, and had the opportunity to ask him all about it.
See what it takes to go underwater with orcas by watching the new episode of our video series, Dedicate, devoted to those inspiring people who decide to focus their life on achieving a goal beyond the ordinary.
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Freediving with orcas... is it something everybody can do?
Not quite. When we bring people with us to meet the orcas, we have very strict standards. We want to ensure the well-being and safety of both the animals and the freedivers. Therefore we require anyone who wants to enter the water to be certified as freedivers with a reputable agency or alternatively have suitable experience as a snorkeler for the conditions we dive in.
Have you been scared while freediving with orcas?
You should always remember that these are still wild animals, so I'm always cautious, but I've never really been scared. Although they have the reputation of being 'killer whales' (a name I avoid using and don't like very much), they are some of the most intelligent beings I have ever had the privilege to be close to and its amazing just how cautious and gentle they can be when we're in the water.
Get a GoPro angle of a freediving trip with orcas and get more footage like this on shutterstock.com
Where are the best places in the world to freedive with orcas?
Different ecotypes of orca can be found all over the world's oceans, although Norway is one of the only places in the world where it's possible to enter the water with them.
How long does a freediving session last?
There are many different factors, such as the amount of daylight in winter, the season, weather, etc. But sessions can vary from three to five hours in a day to only 30 minutes. The amazing thing is that even on a 'short' day, a single interaction can have a life-changing impact on someone's life. That's something we have seen happen countless times.
Are there other animals you'd love to freedive with?
I would love nothing more than to see other ecotypes of orca in different parts of the world, as they are all vastly different in not only their diet and behaviour, but also their physical appearance. Apart from that, the list is long, but I would also like to see narwhal, beluga and somehow polar bears underwater!