06/03/2012 09:11 GMT

Swan Lake: Elegant Underwater Pictures Of Birds On Russia's Blue Lake

Source: Barcroft Media

These elegant images of swans stretching underwater for their food show just how graceful the birds really are.

Sliding their long necks under the surface of the water and reaching for food at the bottom of a lake, these mute swans are showing not just their looks – but also how well adapted they are.

National geographic photographer, Victor Lyagushkin, 40, took these incredible underwater pictures of a group of five swans ducking for food at the Blue Lake in southern Russian.

“Swans cannot dive as ducks do,” explained Victor.

“Instead they use their long necks to reach deep water weeds. These swans spend winter on the Blue lake, because it never freezes.

“There are a lot of algae, which is the swans' favourite food and they feel themselves safe in the water. That is why this is the best place for swans.”

The Blue Lake is the third largest karsk spring in the world, which means that it gets its amazingly clear water from a much larger network of caves deep underground.

While they look delicate swans are large and powerful birds that can have have wing spans of up to six feet wide and can weigh up to 30 pounds.

In the wild they usually live seven years but have been known to survive in captivity for 50 years.

Swans are naturally cautious creatures so Victor had to use a special underwater breathing technique over the course of a week to win the graceful birds’ trust.

“It was not easy to take these pictures,” said Victor.

“Although I fed the birds daily and they became almost tame, the swans were still very shy and they watched what is going under water.

“They were not afraid of a person on the surface but saw the photographer underwater and escaped each time.

“I had to change from the usual apparatus onto re-breather.

“This kind of underwater technique does not exhale bubbles, which gave me the opportunity to come more close to the birds.”