WPY 2013

Photograph Details

Specially commended 2013

Behaviour: Mammals

Valter Bernardeschi, Italy

Sockeye catch

Each year between July and September, millions of sockeye salmon migrate from the Pacific back up rivers to the fresh waters of Lake Kuril, to spawn in the waters where they were born. This volcanic crater lake, in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary in the Russian Far East, is the largest sockeye salmon spawning ground in Eurasia. The annual glut attracts Kamchatka brown bears from the surrounding forests to feast on the fish and fatten up for hibernation. Following the example of the bears, Valter waded into the icy water to get the right perspective and to wait for an action moment - a real test of physical endurance. By doing so, 'I almost became one of them,' and 'in the silence of the Garden of Eden I did not think about anything else.' This bear reared up some three metres on its hind legs and scanned the water for fish. Suddenly it pounced on a female salmon swollen with roe, the force sending a string of crimson eggs spinning out of her body.

Technical specification

Nikon D4 + 200-400mm f4 lens at 250mm; 1/8000 sec at f4; ISO 720; Gitzo GT3530s tripod.


South Kamchatka Sanctuary, Russia: latitude 51.3836, longitude 156.884 South Kamchatka Sanctuary, Russia: latitude 51.3836, longitude 156.884

South Kamchatka Sanctuary, Russia

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