Forever blowing bubbles: Clever whales create beautiful shimmering rings under water
These beautiful photos showcase the extraordinary talent of a group of clever whales.
The majestic white creatures have learned to blow shimmering, ring-shaped bubbles under the water at their aquarium in Japan.
Air is blown out of the whale's mouth to create a current, before the brilliant beluga sends a second gust from its blow hole to shape the bubble into a ring.
Great sight: The amazing white beluga blows a perfect circle of bubbles into the clear water at its aquarium
Sea my trick? The playful creatures have learned to produce the pretty rings using their mouths and blow holes to release bursts of air
Hiroya Minakuchi, from Osaka, dived with the animals at Shimane Aquarium to take the incredible pictures.
He is the only person other than workers at the aquarium to have dived with them, and said he believes the trick is very rare.
He added: 'I believe it is just a lot of
fun for this particular beluga. Since she developed this new game she
often performs it for visitors.
'So far I am an only person who can dive with belugas for photographing except for aquarium trainers.
'I believe this kind photo should be very rare.'
Water baby: There are only 100,000 belugas left in the world, despite some thinking them so intelligent they could be taught to talk
The aquarium is set on Japan's coast in the Shimane Prefecture, in Iwami Seaside Park.
Its fantastic collection of fish swim in 3,000 tons of water, with the playful belugas its star attractions.
The beluga, or white whale, is an Arctic and sub-Arctic dweller known as a sea canary because of its high-pitched squeaks, clicks and whistles. It can also mimic a variety of other sounds.
White whales are fairly small, ranging from 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6.1 metres) in length.
Belugas generally live together in small groups known as pods and are social animals.
One Japanese researcher even claims belugas are so intelligent he taught one to 'talk', using its sounds to identify different objects.
The beluga has a distinctive protuberance on its head and is related to the tusked 'unicorn' whale, the narwhal. There are only around 100,000 left in the world.
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