By Jamie Smith

Photographer has whale of a time capturing rare encounter with shy sea giants in the wild.

A pod of seven Sperm Whales gave photographers far more than they could have dreamt of as they allowed them to get up close.

Wildlife and underwater photographer, Franco Banfi, 58, from Cadro, South Switzerland, took the photo on January 28 off Dominica island in the Caribbean.

Franco said: “Every year I organise a small group of passionate photographers and Whale lovers with the aim to photograph the sperm whales that live around the island.

“To photograph the Sperm Whales, first we need a permit, then we go out with a boat and we swim, snorkel and free dive to take pictures.

“The picture shows a pod of seven sperm whales sleeping with a free diver watching them and another one taking pictures.

“I like whales and big animals in general, but mostly underwater. I like the challenge to photograph whales feeding, without use of scuba tanks.

“You first have to find the whales which is not always easy because they are underwater and from the surface you don’t have an sign of their presence.

“You go into the water and you try not to disturb them if not they will go away or deeper.

“It was difficult to have all the whales in one picture, because the visibility was not so clear and in the distance the whales are not so sharp and clear but I was happy with the result.

“In March I will go to photograph the blue whales and in June I will go to Svalbard and then Pantanal, Brazil.”