Photo shows President Barack Obama snorkeling off the coast of his native Hawaii

Before snorkeling, Obama toured the island of Midway Atoll which he made part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
  • A dramatic image has been released showing President Obama snorkeling among coral in the Pacific Ocean 
  • Wearing just a pair of swimming shorts, the president glides through the water off the coast of Midway Atoll 
  • President says growing up in Hawaii helped him to understand and appreciate the importance of the ocean
  • Photographer Brian Skerry, who snapped the image, said President Obama was a 'strong and athletic swimmer'  

He is used to being pictured in a suit and tie while giving speeches and meeting fellow world leaders.

But as he leaves the White House, a brand new picture has been released showing Barack Obama in a very different environment.

The extraordinary image shows the president wearing just a pair of swimming shorts as he snorkels among the wildlife in the Pacific Ocean.

The extraordinary picture of President Obama that has been released showing him snorkeling through the water in the Pacific Ocean 

The extraordinary picture of President Obama that has been released showing him snorkeling through the water in the Pacific Ocean 

Published in the February edition of National Geographic, it was snapped by photographer Brian Skerry, as Obama glided through the water off the coast of Midway Atoll.

The island is a small atoll in the middle of the Pacific, halfway between the United States and China and not far from Hawaii, where the president grew up.

The president had visited the island in September so he could inspect the clear waters after declaring the expansion of Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument to include Midway.

And he couldn't resist snorkeling close to the wildlife and coral and told the magazine growing up in Hawaii he 'knows what it’s like to jump into the ocean and understanding what it means when you see a sea turtle in the face of a wave.' 

Before snorkeling, Obama toured the island of Midway Atoll which he made part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

Before snorkeling, Obama toured the island of Midway Atoll which he made part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

While there, the president paused for a moment alone as he walked away from the Battle of Midway Navy Memorial during the visit in September 

While there, the president paused for a moment alone as he walked away from the Battle of Midway Navy Memorial during the visit in September 

As he snorkelled, he allowed photographer Mr Skerry to join him. There, he positioned himself in front of the president to capture the candid image, which he hopes will raise awareness of protecting oceans.

And Mr Skerry remarked how Obama appeared to be a strong, athletic swimmer, who seemed relaxed as he relished both the exercise and beauty of the ocean.

He told the magazine: 'For a guy who is managed to the second, and is always in suits and ties, being out in the middle of the ocean had to be a real treat.'

The picture is believed to be the first taken underwater of a sitting president and echoes his childhood in Hawaii, which he credits with helping him understand the ocean. 

The picture comes as President Obama enters his final days in the White House before making way for president-elect Donald Trump.

The picture comes as President Obama enters his final days in the White House before making way for president-elect Donald Trump. Pictured is Obama giving his farewell speech in Chicago last night 

The picture comes as President Obama enters his final days in the White House before making way for president-elect Donald Trump. Pictured is Obama giving his farewell speech in Chicago last night 

The environment and conservation is part of what Obama sees as his legacy and he has tried to lower carbon emissions and has extended national parks.

However, Republicans and business groups emboldened by Trump's victory are gearing up to reverse many of the administration's signature environmental moves, particularly those made since the election.

The outcome could determine whether eight years of Democratic rule in the White House leaves a lasting mark on the environment or quickly fades.

  • The photo of President Obama is from the February issue of National Geographic magazine and appears in Sea of Hope: America's Underwater Treasures, premiering Sunday, January 15 at 7/6c on National Geographic. 
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By Mathias Dillion 01/11/2017 11:22:00