Pierre-Brice Lebrun - 2009-03-30
There’s always time to contemplate nature on the Lofoten Islands. It’s a continuous, awe-inspiring show, so just sit back and scan the horizon. The rarely stable weather makes the colours of sky and scenery change with each passing minute, constantly shifting from blue to pink, while the mountains are lit up or cast into shade…
The wild, sometimes hostile landscape is magnificent. Preserved and protected, it captivates all who take the time to contemplate it. The Lofoten Islands are a paradise for hikers who can walk for hours along the seashore or inland without meeting another living soul and can climb, observe and marvel all day long in the fresh air. The marshy moors are swept by winds. Olav’s road (real name E10) crosses the archipelago, winding between fjords, jagged snow-capped mountains, and torrents that rush down steep mountainsides. Leave the coast – which is never far away – and deviate from the main road to go and lose yourself in the remote, colourful villages that try to survive inland. You won’t come across many people there, just a few cows, some stocky horses and well-padded sheep sheltering behind the slopes.
Sun sets in the early afternoon during winter on the Lofoten Islands. The good news is that today it actually rose… In December, polar night falls on the archipelago and there’s not a second of light, day or blue sky for a month! Fortunately, the opposite is true in summer when the sun stays up – and so do the inhabitants.
Orca Tysfjord, accompanied by a multi-lingual guide, organises orca safaris from Svolvær, the capital of the Lofoten Islands with its typically Norwegian architecture.
The sea trip by boat or dinghy lasts a good part of the day. Our dinghy draws very near a young male. No orca is ever alone so the others can’t be far away. No need to panic, though, as they’re completely harmless, peaceful and even curious about all the commotion they cause…
The dorsal fin is the orca’s fingerprint and enables scientists to recognise each individual. This fin can be up to 1.50 m in males but no more than 80 cm long in females. Calves have the short, curved fin of the females, whilst the males have a very straight, slightly erectile fin.
The orcas have spotted a shoal of herring and surround them, throwing them into a panic. The herrings actually confuse the orcas’ white bellies with light from the surface. Lost and terrified, they huddle together for mutual encouragement and comfort, not realising that they are more vulnerable all packed together like this.
The orcas strike into the crowd with their powerful tails, stunning the herring and sending them flying, to the great delight of the seagulls. Mouths open, the incredibly lithe orcas cross the battlefield one after another to fill their stomachs. A greedy ballet that leaves the spectators speechless…