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Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)

My close encounter with the population of walrus on the eastern side of the White Island (Kvitøya) was magical! First a...
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Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)

My close encounter with the population of walrus on the eastern side of the White Island (Kvitøya) was magical! First and foremost the sheer numbers, as this is a species that has been so severely hunted in the past that it was headed for extinction. For this reason it was protected in Norway in 1952.

What first appeared as yet another male colony was in fact full of mothers and calves! This is a thriving colony with many generations of Walrus. A great sign of a recovering species.

This individual was one of so many that swam up close to the zodiac and some seemed like they regarded it as a visitor of their own species, as no threat or nervous behavior was seen from them. Instead, the mothers, sometimes several together, swam up to us with their calves to show them, and when they thought it was enough, then embraced them with a flipper to show - come here now little one - let's dive.

The only ice here at this latitude (80.13 N) was from the ice sheet of Kvitøya, as the ocean is so warm that the sea ice is long gone. Just 10 years a go I was unable to get to this location by boat, and now we can get further and further to the north in the summer.
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6 Comments | Report
Alfredo_Jose PRO+
 
Alfredo_Jose April 12, 2018
Excellent capture!
BessieV
 
BessieV May 16, 2018
Spectacular details and accompanying narrative.
CURUTCHET
 
CURUTCHET May 16, 2018
i am surprise of the cracks in the long tooth and his red eye
CURUTCHET
 
CURUTCHET May 16, 2018
it shows one thing the climate is chnaging very fast
edrobson Premium
 
edrobson October 31, 2018
Wonderful.
routnick
 
routnick Apr 09
Great expression

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Behind The Lens

Location
Svalbard, on the eastern side of the White Island (Kvitøya)
Time
Shot 28 July 2016 at 14:45
Lighting
Very challenging light-wise, as the angle on the sun or reflections of the sun came from all directions, as everything was moving. On one side a very reflective ice sheet and in the ocean countless ice floats from the calving of the glacier together with the ocean made it very challenging light-wise as the dark walrus were very often in an unfavourable angle.
Equipment
Nikon D4s, Nikkor 500mm with 1.4 converter with 700 mm total on a Gitzo GT5542LS tripod and a WH-200 Wimberley Head
Inspiration
My close encounter with the population of walrus on the eastern side of the White Island (Kvitøya) was magical! First and foremost the sheer numbers, as this is a species that has been so severely hunted in the past that it was headed for extinction. For this reason it was protected in Norway in 1952. What first appeared as yet another male colony was in fact full of mothers and calves! This is a thriving colony with many generations of Walrus. A great sign of a recovering species. This individual was one of so many that swam up close to the zodiac and some seemed like they regarded it as a visitor of their own species, as no threat or nervous behavior was seen from them. Instead, the mothers, sometimes several together, swam up to us with their calves to show them, and when they thought it was enough, then embraced them with a flipper to show - come here now little one - let's dive. The only ice here at this latitude (80.13 N) was from the ice sheet of Kvitøya, as the ocean is so warm that the sea ice is long gone. Just 10 years a go I was unable to get to this location by boat, and now we can get further and further to the north in the summer. Getting a clear shot of these beings was very challenging as they popped up like whack-a-moles - never in the same location. Being low on the water in a zodiak meant getting shots more on their level and on their terms, which I had hoped to achieve. This year I found out that this colony has vanished as the glacier is no longer calving sufficiently to provide floats, which is yet another example of how quickly things are now changing, and making this capture even more special.
Editing
Reduced shadows, blacks, whites, highlights
In my camera bag
Two houses (currently D4s and D5) Nikkor: 500mm, 70-200mm, 24-70mm, 105mm, Formatt Hitech filters for landscape, fiber cloth, lots of spare batteries, head lamp, lots of memory cards, external hard disk, notebook, LensCoat raingear for all lenses and houses.
Feedback
Always be ready!!! Auto ISO and exposure compensation are good friends as you can focus on the subject whenever it decides to come along no matter how shifting the light conditions are. Shoot as your subject approaches or you are getting closer, as you might not get another opportunity. If the subject does come amazingly close, that is an added bonus. I use a gimbal, as I find it extremely versatile and stable in even the most extreme conditions.

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