As beachgoers in Finland’s north sought relief from sweltering temperatures with a dip in the ocean, they noticed three reindeer doing exactly the same thing.
Some parts of Europe have been crippled with heat for weeks, and Spain is on alert after the country’s weather agency warns temperatures could surpass 40 degrees Celsius.
But while southern Europe is used to temperatures in the high-30s, for the countries near the Arctic Circle the heat is unexpected.
Pekka Niinivaara from Vantaa, near Helsinki, took the photo of three reindeer drinking at the beach — a shot that has received more than 22,000 likes on Facebook.
Mr Niinivaara said he was on a road trip to Rovaniemi with his family when they decided to cool off at the local beach.
“I was taking our little boys for swimming, when suddenly I noticed there was something going on at the other side of the beach, and saw, ‘Oh, there’s reindeer’, and decided to go get my cell phone to get a few pictures,” he said.
“I’m no expert, so I can’t be sure if they came to cool in the water, or drink, or maybe both.”
He said reindeer were quite a common sight in northern Finland but seeing other beachgoers snap shots of the trio made him think this photo opportunity was more special.
“People were taking pictures of them, even selfies with them, it’s just not seen in this photo. I think some people went too close to them as well,” he said.
“After maybe two to three minutes, one of them did get nervous and run fast away from the beach while the other two followed.
“Many people seemed to find the picture funny, also in Finland, so maybe it does not happen so often, but I’m only guessing.”
Mr Niinivaara said the heatwave had been lasting for a month.
“This car trip, when we went to Rovaniemi and other places, was probably the hottest I can remember,” he said.
“I’m 46 years old and I don’t think we’ve ever had something like that.”
Melanie Wadd, who lives 60 kilometres north of Rovaniemi, said the temperatures had been “quite tropical” even at night, but people welcomed the heat as summers were usually short.
“I think for the most part — me included — people are loving it. I think it’s appreciated as up north we have six months of snow, beginning in October or November,” she said.
“We have had over 30 [degrees Celsius] in previous years, but for such a length of time for it to be so warm is quite rare.”
Ms Wadd had seen the viral reindeer photo too, but said it did not strike her as unusual.
“It’s not so unusual, though, as the reindeer like to escape the mosquitoes and horse flies — at the beach it’s windier — and are often seen in towns. They only swim if they want to cross the river,” she said.
Ms Wadd has had to do some adjustment herself. She has seven sled dogs, but training them has been put on hold because of the scorching temperatures.
“We haven’t been exercising them — they normally have a daily run — for the past three weeks. They have good access to fresh water and just sleep really. We also feed late in the evening,” she said.