Year End Countdown # 9 — Walrus
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Those of you who have followed this blog throughout the year know that back in June I participated in a two-week photo trip in Svalbard, an archipelago of islands in the northernmost reaches of the Arctic. You probably also know that this trip profoundly affected me. Never have I seen anything so beautiful or so moving as what I saw up there. I continue to dream — often — about that voyage.
The trip included stunning vistas and exotic wildlife. I took thousands of photographs while I was up there and was still sorting through them weeks after my return. Tonight’s photo is one of my favorites from the trip, a portrait of a bull Walrus.
On two occasions we had the opportunity to approach these gigantic animals on foot and photograph them. It was possible to approach them quite closely, although it occurred to me that it probably wouldn’t be a good move to annoy a 4000-pound animal.
This image gives some impression of the animal’s massiveness. I can say with assurance that I’ve never been this close of any other land-dwelling (albeit part-time) mammal that was so huge. The head looks pretty small in proportion to the Walrus’ body. Yes, but consider this: that head is easily as large as a basketball. An adult male walrus is about the size of a small SUV. Think of an automobile covered with fur and with tusks protruding from the front end and you get the picture.
Of all of the Walrus photos that I took — and I took hundreds — this image is my favorite. Why? Well, because this fellow seems to have noticed me and is showing at least a modicum of interest in the man with the camera. That wasn’t the case with many of the others. For the most part the walruses we encountered, all males, were indifferent to humans’ presence. This one, by contrast, is giving me the eye. He’s not necessarily upset, but he’s certainly interested.
Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture preferred setting, ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/1600.