Best Job Ever: Filming a Wild Beluga Whale Party by Drone

National Geographic Young Explorer and wildlife photographer Nansen Weber has been going to the same party for 16 years and it never gets old. Each summer for about a month, thousands of beluga whales congregate in Cunningham Inlet, a part of Canada’s Somerset Island. “Basically it’s just a big party, a socializing thing. There’s been speculations that the whales go there to molt their skin, to get rid of parasites, that it’s a nursery for the young whales, but … you can definitely see it on their face—they’re having a good time. They’re enjoying the warmer water of the Cunningham River, which can be 8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the ocean and that’s like a bathtub when you’re swimming in 1 degree Fahrenheit water all the time,” Weber says, describing the yearly scene.

The belugas don’t seem to mind that Weber is crashing their party. In fact, Weber has spent so much time photographing the whales that they’ve come to know and trust him, swimming within feet of him and allowing him to get amazing close-ups. Using a drone, Weber has also captured mesmerizing aerial footage of the epic beluga parties, stunning footage of polar bears swimming in icy blue waters, and the harsh but awe-inspiring Arctic landscape. Weber has no shortage of gorgeous footage from the ground, including head-butting musk ox and playful Arctic fox pups. Check out the video to see Weber’s striking images.

While Weber has been fortunate enough to witness the massive beluga whale congregation for nearly two decades, he worries that future gatherings are numbered. Climate change has compromised wildlife habitats and is breaking up ice in the Northwest Passage, allowing more ship traffic through. “This might be the only place on Earth you can enjoy the beluga whales like this that is still wild like it’s —> Read More

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