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Freediving in Norway - a travelogue

This is my second time in Norway. In January 2017 I visited the country in the north the last time. While January is very dark, this year in November we have had more daylight. More daylight means more time to find the animals for which we are here. „We“ is a group of freedivers which are tough enough to endure the four degree cold water and the stormy and cold weather above the water.

We're here for the orcas

And the reason why we are here - are orcas, also called killer whales. The biggest dolphins that exist. But as dolphins have a good reputation, Orcas are called to be intelligent but cruel. Everybody who took part in this trip checked YouTube before to see how this animals hunt and play with their victims which could be seals, sharks, the calfs of humpbackwhales and so on. Recently they started to attack the rudder of sailingships close to spain. So far fatal incidents between orcas and humans have only been experienced in aquariums, but never in the open ocean.

Will we succeed?

Although the trip is quite expensive and the accomodation on board of the Expedition Ship „Stronstad“ very basic, you can never be sure, whether you get the chance to get close to this animals. The reason why Norway in November and January (December is to dark as the sun dissapears completely) is the center of the world, when it comes to interaction with Orcas, ist the Herring which move from the open ocean to the fjords to spawn their descendants their. But as the Herring don`t wear watches they are not always on time. And as I said the advantage of a tour in November is, more daylight, but at the same time it could turn into a disadvantage, when the Herring is late. So you see, the herrings are essential. An other obsticle is the weather itself, sea is always rough and sometimes it is too stormy to leave the harbour at all.

Hungry giants: 250 kg of fish a day

We had a great time, not only could we see the orcas from the small Zodiac which we entered to get closer to the animals, we also experienced the building of a „bait ball“. The Orcas push the Herring together and capture them in a cage of bubbles. The scared Herring stay together and the Orcas eat one by one. It is funny but an adult animal needs about 250 kilogram of Herring a day, but they only eat one at a time and spit out the parts they don´t like. The Orcas didn´t feel disturbed by us, so we could make some rare footage. Usually Orcas are traveling and moving fast forward. But it is not only the Orcas who met at the dining table. Sometimes the big humpback whales appear and eat the whole „cage“ of Herring as they absolutely don´t care how much effort it took to find and catch the fishes. Of course the humpback are not as picky as the Orcas - they just eat everything. But it seems like there is enoughe for everybody and the parts the Orca don´t want to eat are eaten by the noisy seagulls. And on top some eagles circle over the scene. An impressive situation in a great scenery!

A stunning spectacle of light and colour in the sky

Usualle the fun is over at 3 p.m. as the sun is gone and the ship has to travel to a safe harbour. But is it really over?  Not yet! If you are lucky, you can experience northern lights. A green flashy light that moves on the dark sky and you can imagine that the vikings thought this is caused by gods and has a special meaning.

After one week of exhausting dives we flew home, tired but happy. This week wil last for a long time, and in case I won´t return to Norway I am very thankful for this trip to the end of the world.

 

 

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