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July 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 37, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Only Way to Get Close to Beluga Whales: Dive Naked

from the July, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Braving sub-zero temperatures, a female freediver threw caution - - and her clothes - - to the wind to get near two beluga whales in a scientific experiment. Marine biologists believe belugas do not like to be touched by artificial materials, such as wetsuits, so skilled freediver Natalia Avseenko was persuaded to strip naked and take the plunge in Russia's northwest corner of the White Sea, where water temperatures hit minus 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 29 degrees Fahrenheit. The average human could die if left in sub-zero temperature seawater for just five minutes, but Avseenko, 36, used yoga and meditation techniques to hold her breath and stay underwater for 10 minutes, 40 seconds. And yes, the belugas let her get close enough to touch. You can see NSFW photos at

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