Daniel Botelho, was working on a project for Disney and gathering material for an upcoming book on narwhals.

This involved taking a trip to the North Pole on a mission to locate and photograph the legendary “unicorn of the sea”: the narwhal.

But Daniel also realized that this adventure would most likely to end in failure. This is because narwhals are known to be shy around boats and people, and very few underwater photographs of these unusual mammals exist.

Botelho’s group camped on the ice and dove in 28-degree water. They wore dry suits with warm clothing beneath, but the water was brutally cold. Botelho recalls that day, “I always knew it would be very tough to get close to a narwhal whale. It is notoriously hard to get close to one. But while all the staff could only stand a half-hour in the water, I took advantage of my cold resistance and stayed for three hours, and suddenly something happened that no one would ever consider: a narwhal whale made a friendship with a man.”

It was a quite magical encounter, to be sure, and he goes onto to say, “In order to get the whales relaxed, I spent three hours in a row in this water. But my face was uncovered and I had ice-burn blisters. After three hours the expedition leader called me back because we needed to get back to camp, and when I started to move a female narwhal came straight to me, bumped my leg, and started to follow me."

"She followed me until the time I left the water, and people around me were amazed, including the [native] Inuits. They are very mystic with narwhals and they know how shy they are, so having a narwhal touching me was like magical to them … I cried.”

Just before Botelho climbed onto the ice with his face and hands burning in pain, he reached out with his camera and captured a self-portrait with the narwhal just a few feet away. It was an amazing moment in time.

Visit Daniel Botelho's Facebook page.


Responses to "Photographer has a rare encounter with an elusive Narwhal"

  1. Unknown says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    I have read and learned as much as I can about this amazing mammal. I have loved them for many, many years. This is an absolutely amazing video. You are indeed a very lucky person to have not only photographed this but have her follow you. I love this and would love to learn when your book or movie will come out. Please post. This was so amazing to watch. Thank you for sharing.

  3. So beautiful!!

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