mandag 19. september 2011

SOCKEYE DRAMA IN RUSSIAN RIVER, KENAI, ALASKA

 Sockeye salmon in Russian River, August 26th, 2011
D3s, 24-70/70, f4,0, polarize filt, 1/200, ISO 1600

On our last expedition day in Alaska we went from Homer, over the Kenai Peninsula, heading back for Anchorage. By coincidence we stumbled across Russian River, running from the inner parts of Kenai towards the sea in Cook Inlet (cool names !!). Russian River is said to be one of the best rivers for sockeye salmon in all Alaska. The name sockeye is anglification of suk-kegh, meaning "red fish" in the indigenous inuit language. When returning to their "childhood rivers" to spawn, the fish is 4 to 6 years old, and after spawning ....they all die.

I will never forget the feeling as we were approaching the riverbanks of Russian River. The shallow river was literally filled up with fish, salmon basking the river by thousands !! When spawning the sockeye develops a sharp red color on the body with greenish head. The males fight each other with huge hooks in the upper jaw and with big, shark-like teeth literally sticking out from the spooky jaws. By the time we were there I would say approx 25 % of the fish was already dead. The overwhelming smell of rotting meat was "rubbing" my nose. Another 25 % was busy dying, some trying desperately to stay upright in the water... with their heavy, fungus-infected wounds on the body. Other making their last weak little splash, half dry on the riverbanks. The remaining 50 % was still fighting each other and, in between, eagerly spawning over the dead bodies of their friends and relatives. It was like a horror-movie : huge jaws, the "dinosaur T-rex teeth" sticking out, the intruding smell of of death, and in between .... wild sex !! When reflecting upon this I must say I was happy being a human, not a sockeye, I mean, think about that : only one single experience.... under these conditions, and then .... eternity !!

It was a grey day with continuous rain and very little light. As I was recovering from my first staggering impressions at the riverbank, and after shooting my first "unreflected panic-photos" in a state of shock.... I found a shallow part in the river, pulled out "Big Mama" (my dear 600), got down really low with the lens as close to the water as possible, turned up the ISO and spent several hours at this spot trying to freeze heads and jaws as they sometimes , in short glimpses, emerged from the water`s surface.

Taking in consideration that this river was a serious "bacteria-bomb", I was really careful not to get one single drop of river-water into my mouth. Swallowing a few drops of this liquid could easily develop "Beaver Fever", and this would be fatal .... on my 12 hour flight back to Norway !!

For me, the incidents at Russian River stands out as one of the most special moments of the whole Alaska experience this year. Hope you like the photos !!
  
 Two males fighting in the shallow river
D3s, 600 4,0, f4,0, 1/320, ISO 1600

A male sockeye swimming right towards me
D3s, 600 4,0, f4,0, 1/500, -0,33, ISI 2000 

Colors :  Blue jaws, white teeth, green heads, red bodies and orange fins !
D3s, 600 4,0, f4,0, 1/640, -0,33, ISO 2000 

D3s, 600 4,0, f4,0, -0,33, ISO 2000  

D3s, 600 4,0, f4,0, 1/1000, -0,33, ISO 2000 

D3s, 600 4,0, f4,0, 1/1250, -0,33, ISO 2000 

Two males fighting over female
D3s, 600 4,0, f4,0, 1/640, -0,33, ISO 2000 

One giant is already gone, the other still reproducing
D3s, 24-70/52, f5,6, 1/500, ISO 640

D3s, 24-70/70, f5,6, 17400, +0,33, ISO 640

 D3s, 24-70/62, f3,2, 1/1600, -0,33, ISO 2000

Good times in the land of plenty for bears, foxes, bald eagles and seagulls
D3s, 600 4,0 + 2x converter, 1200 mm, f8,0, 1/800, +,067, ISO 1600


For a while I thought these gulls were glaucous gulls (polarmåke), but with a closer look this bird has brownish iris and pink ring around the eye : Glaucouswinged gull. Anyway : big and hungry !
D3s, 600 4,0, f4,0, 1/1250, ISI 2000 


Jan Eilert Pedersen shooting at Russian River. "Jeilert" is here using a monopod of local origin.
D3s, 24-70/24, f3,2, 1/1250, ISO 2000

13 kommentarer:

  1. Tøffe bilder, spesielt der fiskene har kjeften over vann. Nr 2 og 3 er mine favoritter.

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  2. Denne kommentaren har blitt fjernet av forfatteren.

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  3. Jeg har ikke sett så dramatiske bilder av dette skuespillet før. Godt jobbet!

    (Hvithodeørna var også svært severdig. Nokså trad rent fotografisk, men deilig karismatisk. Det rimet til og med!)

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  4. For en herlig serie av bilder fra Alaska!! Disse var jo helt rå, og at du kom langt ned i perspektiv gjorde sitt! Og; Verden er ganske rå!

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  5. Awesome, for å si det sånn :) Har aldri sett slike bilder av laks i elv!

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  6. "Jeilert" er vel for god til å bruke en D3s?? Har dere malt utstyret?:)))) Stor 24-70 Nikon har synes jeg:)
    mvh
    Bjørn Aksel Bjerke

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  7. Monopoden er forøvrig til salgs for 900,-.

    Bildene blei bra

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  8. Utrolig flott dette. Du har angrepet objektene fra en flott vinkel. Meget vel utført. Ole M

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  9. Knall bilder av fiskene dine Tom.

    mvh
    duy

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  10. Dævven for en kjeft på den laksen! Gjør nok mye skader på sine artsfrender ja.

    Bildene er som vanlig til stor inspirasjon.

    Knut Børge

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  11. Lækkert!! Søkki ta, får jo aldeles ståpels av nr6!! Toern er også rå, men nr 6!! Dæven, Tom! Liker såklart hele serien godt i sin helhet, og med innslag av både øyeløse og hvite hoder sier det alt... Sockeyene hadde ikke begynt å bli så knæshe i farga oppi Chunilna enda da. "Styggo" god mat da de først kom opp.

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  12. Flott serie igjen :)
    Du er dyktig på å få til "nye" ting om det nå er et hoggormmåltid eller en laksekjeft som stikker opp av vannflata - godt jobba :)

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