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You wish your swimming buddy was a 3.5 ton elephant

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Photographer Cesare Naldi captured Rajan, a 60-year-old elephant, and his 58-year-old driver Nasru going for their morning swim off of Havelock Island in the Bay of Bengal. These photos won Naldi Viewers' Choice in National Geographic's 2009 International Photography competition.

Says Naldi:

I took the pictures during the early morning around 8am as Rajan crossed the short distance between beaches on Havelock Island [...] I had approached Nasru and Rajan's owners at the Barefoot resort on Havelock to see if they would let me spend time alone with Rajan, as he usually swims with groups of eight or so paying customers [...] Another thing that captured my attention was that he spent most of the time with his head underwater breathing just through his long nose, which looked like a periscope [...] I never felt in danger, even if sometimes I got really close to his feet, which he was moving very fast, especially when I was taking the silhouette shot.

Rajan, who makes his living hauling logs and swimming for tourists, lives on Havelock after a 2008 fund-raising campaign allowed him to stay on the island instead of moving to the Indian mainland. And you wish your friends were this cool.


[Boston and Daily Mail via Tree Hugger]