harmenpiekema cross-posted this post in TravelFeed 11 months ago


Killerwhales!!

This story is about the day I met my favorite animals for the first time! During my 5 weeks on the Lofoten this definitely was the best day! I could not have wished for more!

Two hunters pop up their heads above the water. 200 mm | F/8.0 | 1/640 sec | -1 stop | ISO 100

Restless birds
It was only the second day of clear skies and sun, after a prolonged period of bad weather, and I was up for a long hike with a sunset photo session to top it all off. As I was preparing, I noticed the birds were particularly restless. Circling above the bay and harbor, they seemed looking for something. I’d seen them doing that before but not in those great numbers.

I’d seen the gulls scanning the waters before but not in those great numbers. 200 mm | F/10 | 1/600 | ISO 100

Across the bay
The guesthouse has the bay as its backyard, so I walk outside to overlook the water, but find nothing of interest. Driving out of Reine and along the coast, I keep scanning the waters, I feel something is going on, there’s a great possibility for killerwhales to arrive, because they’d been spotted the day before in the Vestfjord.

There they are
As I’m nearing the first bridge, I suddenly spot a large dorsal fin entering the harbor and I know this is going to be an epic day!! There they are!! KILLLERWHALES!!! I drop the car and literally sprint towards the water, I crawl underneath a rack of smelly cod-heads and climb the slippery rocks to get as close to the water as possible.

There they are!!!

So close
I’m next to the bridge and it seems they are heading there too! This is the first time I see killerwhales, I’m overly excited and filled with joy, and now they are just a few meters away from me! How can it get any better than this! From time to time my 70-200 mm lens is even to large to fit them into the frame.

The sound when they surface is amazing 200 mm | F/9.0 | 1/200 sec | ISO 100

Because they are this close, I can easily observe them and notice a few small ones, they are not pink anymore which means they are probably older than one year. They look like cute black and white sausages 🙂 The whole family joins the feast, which unfolds in front of me. Now and then they pop their heads above the water and whack the surface with their tails. The sound this makes is epic and it is used to scare the herring and keep them packed together.

What a scene!

Not unnoticed
It is obvious that a spectacle like this does not go unnoticed, and soon the whole road is filled with spectators, a few boats enter the bay and more and more birds arrive at the scene. The normally peaceful Reine area is now a scene of action. Because the killerwhales have moved deeper into the bay and a bit further away from me, I jump in my car and move to a different spot next to the E10.

Now I’m overlooking the bay from a bit further away and observe the killerwhales behavior. I also start to pay a bit more attention to the birds, there are so manny of them. Off course all types of gull available, crows and raven, and white-tailed sea eagles.

Large white-tailed sea eagles join the party.

I’ve never seen that many sea eagles so close to each other, I count eight, and of course it doesn’t take long before a fight occurs. And it is happening all in front of me! Sick!!!

These three got into a fight after one had caught a fish.

Beautiful dorsal fins
After a few hours the commotion seems to fade and I decide to move to the pier. This is where the killerwhales had entered and where they will possibly go when they leave again (if not entering the Reinefjord). I climb the pier and head for the end and there, just three meters from where I stand, surfaces a large male (which you can tell by their dorsal fin, males have a larger fin than females).

So close!!  91 mm | F/9.0 | 1/160 sec | ISO 100

There are two adult orcas patrolling the mouth of the bay, probably to keep the herring from fleeing to open sea. They avoid using much energy and are mostly floating. It looks really cool!

Heads popping up

Something I’d been noticing all day, is that now and then the orcas surface with their heads, as if they are looking for something above the water. It doesn’t look like they are feeding at that moment. They really take their time doing this. It looks fantastic as you can see their beautiful eyes and patterns.

As they pop their heads out of the water you can see their beautiful eyes and patterns. 200 mm | F/9.0 | 1/320 sec | ISO 100

Freezing cold wind
One thing I did not mention before, is that there is an evil cold wind that has been with us all day and now, after more than four hours it starts getting its toll on my body. But I don’t care. This is too epic to walk away from. I get my thicker gloves from the car, ignore the numbness and continue observing and photographing.

The shot
I see two of the adults popping up again and as I aim my camera, I see one of them moving higher out of the water. I can hear the crowd roaring behind me. There was no time to focus so I hope for the best. I take a look at my screen and let out a roar myself. The timing is perfect. I could not have wished for more!

Two hunters pop up their heads above the water. 200 mm | F/8.0 | 1/640 sec | -1 stop | ISO 100

What a day
After this, I’m so delighted (I already was, trust me, but after this photo even more), I’m not really photographing anymore but just take everything in. I stay at this spot until they all get together to leave the bay again. After more than 5 hours I’m frozen but super happy!! As the swim out of the bay, one of them whacks its tail on the water as if to say goodbye (corny I know) and then they’re gone.

Bye bye!!!  82 mm | F/8.0 | 1/200 sec | ISO 100

Captivity sucks
Of course these animals have straight dorsal fins, and are not collapsed under stress as you see with animals in captivity. That is why captivity sucks and you should never ever buy a ticket! If you feel inspired by this story go find a guide or company that does whale tours! Orca’s (and other cetaceans) don’t belong in a tank, they swim up to 200 km’s a day, live in families and need space! If you buy a ticket you promote animal abuse. Empty the tanks!!!

Thanks for reading
I really hope you've enjoyed this article! I really hope my stories inspire you to pick up the camera, and head out for adventure! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

If you like my photography, please follow me on https://instagram.com/harmenpiekema, https://www.twitter.com/harmenpiekema and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/harmenpiekemaphotography.

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