Special Skills: Russian Scientist Dives Naked With Belugas

Russian Scientist Goes Naked Just another day at the office, naked deep-sea diving with beluga whales at the Arctic Circle.

Natalia Avseenko, a 36-year-old Russian scientist, decided to test the hypothesis that belugas might prove more open to interaction with humans if no diving suit was involved. The theory being tested was whether contact with artificial material had a way of scaring off the belugas.

Advanced diving abilities coupled with expertise in yoga enabled Avseenko to far outlast the five minutes that most humans can endure sub-zero Arctic waters. After taking a deep breath and diving in, Avseenko lasted 10 minutes and 40 seconds.

She completed the feat in the Murmansk Oblast region off the shore of far northwest Russia by the White Sea and Finland.

There are about 100,000 belugas in the world. Among their special skills is the ability to swim backward. Currently protected by the Endangered Species Act, the belugas have long been a target for captivity. The first beluga kept for display was by P.T. Barnum for his museum in 1861. Belugas have historically been an object of attraction in part because of their ability to show a wide range of complex facial expressions.

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