Deep sleeper

Audun Rikardsen's Image

A call from a friend’s son told Audun of a creature bobbing around in a fjord outside Tromsø.

Investigating by boat, he found this bearded seal snoozing at the surface, its distinctive whiskers dried into curls in the midnight sunshine. It seemed surprisingly trusting, taking one brief peek at him before nodding off again. Bearded seals commonly sleep head up in the water, floating vertically, a practice known as bottling. Further north this is thought to be a tactic to avoid predation by polar bears. When hauled out on the ice they tend to be wary and remain near the edge, head facing the water ready to escape.

Behind the lens

Audun Rikardsen

Audun Rikardsen


Audun is a photographer and full-time professor of biology at the Arctic University of Norway. Growing up in a small fishing community in northern Norway, he developed a lifelong fascination with the Arctic's rough landscape, culture and wildlife, both above and below the ocean's surface. He uses his fieldwork photography to inspire his students and to draw attention to the science.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • 8-15mm f4 lens
  • 1/160 sec at f10  •   ISO 1000  •   Canon 600 flash
  • Tromsø, Norway
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