A veteran explorer and wildlife photographer captured the amazing moment a mother polar bear taught her cubs to swim.
Amos Nachoum, 65, came face to face with the predator whilst diving off the coast of north-east Canada in August.
‘I was just feet away from one of the world’s best predators, I was so excited and thrilled that I had no time or space for fears,’ explains Amos.
‘I felt safe, as the bear family did not show any hesitation or change their behaviour when they spotted me.
‘I wanted to do this to educate people to protect these beautiful animals and the wilderness they inhabit.
‘I’ve been in the company of ocean giants for 35 years and I have to say this is probably the most inspiring and empowering set of pictures I’ve ever taken. In fact it was the most thrilling moment of my life.’
Amos, who lives in California, attempted to take a similar set of pictures 10 years ago with a single, male polar bear. Unfortunately the bear perceived him as a threat and chased Amos to a depth of 75ft.
‘I did not do my homework on that occasion and almost paid the ultimate price,’ says Amos. ‘This time I was ready.
‘I had studied polar bears for 10 years since my last encounter and I was patient – waiting until exactly the right moment before I dived with them.
‘I positioned myself on the path of the family of bears – around 200 yards away – and watched them swim towards me.
‘When they were around 20ft away the female locked eyes with me and I submerged beneath them.
‘I was calm throughout as the protective mother realised that I didn’t pose a threat so left me alone – it was magical.’
Amos has previously taken up-close, underwater pictures of Nile crocodiles, anacondas, leopard seals, orcas, great white sharks and grizzly bears.
‘For me the challenge comes from how I manage the risk,’ adds Amos.
‘The risk comes only when people do not do their homework, when they don’t pay attention to mother nature or are in a rush to make a statement and get bragging rights.
‘I study these animals and learn how to do it safely and enjoyably. I always leave myself the option to retreat and would not consider that a defeat.
‘My knowledge and my patience are what keeps me alive.’
A support team of Inuits, seasoned filmmakers and safety divers joined Amos on the expedition.
‘People should never attempt to do this themselves,’ adds the veteran photographer, who has more than 35 years experience.
‘It is very dangerous if you do not know what you are doing.’
To join Amos and his team on one of their expeditions, visit www.biganimals.com.