Barren-Ground Caribou Bull

Barren-ground caribou bull (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus)

I took this image of a barren-ground caribou bull (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) during my trip to Canada’s arctic territory of Nunavut (by the way, I have published other photographs from that trip on this and this previous posts).

This bull was strutting on a Nunavut beach, stomping its hooves on a layer of dried sea weed that the high tide had left behind and in so doing the animal was making literally hundreds of black flies come out of those sea weed for the joy of both the caribou and… the photographer! Whenever the wind dies down in the tundra, black flies and mosquitoes fill the air and become a major nuisance. This image was taken in the summer, when caribou shed their winter fur and leave patches of skin exposed to mosquito or black fly bites.

Anyway, to me the key points in this image are the position of the caribou, with two raised legs to convey a sense of motion, and the graphic four-layer background, which appears to be interestingly divided into four bands of brown, yellow, green and cyan.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

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29 thoughts on “Barren-Ground Caribou Bull

  1. ChgoJohn

    One persistent fly on a beach can be irksome. The air thick with black flies must be insufferable. How did you do endure it and still manage to take such wonderful photos, Stefano? The antlers on a few of the males were very impressive. Thanks for sharing them all with us.

    Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Oh man, John, you have no idea! I tell you, when I was there I prayed every day that it would be windy! Mosquitoes and black flies were such a major aggravation, and their numbers were impossible!
      To cope, I sprayed all my exposed skin with bug repellent AND wore a bug shirt, that has an interesting design in that it lets you zip open just a sliver in the mesh covering your face so that I could look in the viewfinder of my camera (in case you were wondering what it looks like, here it is: http://www.bugshirt.com/). But all the same it was a major struggle – even focusing was hard because of the density of the bugs that would sometimes fool the autofocus!
      Thank you for your comment and kind words, John: I am glad you liked the images.

      Reply
  2. Maria Dernikos

    After reading about the bugs, I couldn’t have even stood beside you. Saying that, what a wonderful picture. It’s as if you said to the Caribou ‘action’ as he is walking straight pass you with purpose.

    Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you so much, Maria! The bug thing was really awful, especially if you consider that I am a natural magnet for any kind of bugs! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Sarah

    Stefano, seriously! What a great shot. I’m super jealous that you’ve clearly explored bits of Canada that I am a stranger to! Keep ’em comin’!!

    Reply
  4. kbvollmarblog

    Dear Stefano,
    I really envy you for this this trip. I like the Arctic but have only been to Greenland, Svalbard, Franz-Joseph-Land and Jan Mayen, but I would love to go to Arctic Canada, the North West Territories and the Hudson Bay area too.
    Great picture!
    Have a happy day
    Klausbernd
    Love from Dina and my happy Bookfayries Siri and Selma as well.

    Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Dear Klausbernd,
      Apologies for the late reply, and thank you for your comment.
      Well, actually you have traveled the Arctic quite extensively! I would love to go to Svalbard: I hope I will manage to make that happen some day.
      Arctic Canada and also Alaska are pretty magical places, which I am quite sure you would love to experience first hand. Beautiful country and that kind of feel of being at the edge of the world somehow, if you know what I mean.
      If/when you decide to go, drop me a line and I will be glad to share what I know in terms of where/when/how to go.
      Have a great weekend!
      Stefano

      Reply
      1. kbvollmarblog

        Thank you very much, dear Stefano, for your kind offer.
        Concerning Svalbard: I did travel there on an icebreaker. We shipped around the Islands and went on land every day. That`s the easiest way to see much of Svalbard. Overland travel is a risky business because of the polar bears and you have to be very, very well equipped for crossing the glaciers. But even more spectacular is the northeast coast of Greenland. There exists the possibility to rent a hunting cottage and go from there. If you need Information just ask me. I did all my arctic expeditions on an icebreaker.
        When I lived in Canada I made it up the southern shores of the Hudson Bay but not any further.
        Love
        Klausbernd

      2. Stefano Post author

        Dear Klausbernd,
        Thank you for all the wonderful tips! I would love to plan a trip to either Svalbard or Greenland! When I lay down some possible dates I will definitely email you to discuss what the best options are.
        Also, I did not know you used to live in Canada! Such a beautiful country.
        Big hugs,
        Stefano

      3. kbvollmarblog

        Dear Stefano,

        feel free to contact me. I like to give hints for you. Dina and me we would like to go to the Arctic too. We are just looking for sponsorship. NE-Greenland, the Scoresby Sound area, is great.

        I lived in Montreal for four years – and later in Vermont for a year.

        Love and hugs
        Klausbernd

      4. Stefano Post author

        Thank you very much, Klausbernd: I sure will!
        Sounds exciting that you and Dina are going to travel to the Arctic region again: save a spot for me too! 🙂
        When we meet we will have to talk about your North American period!
        Big hugs to you too!
        Stefano

      5. kbvollmarblog

        Dear Stefano,
        as those Arctic travels are horribly expensive, may I ask you a question, please? Have you got a sponsor?
        Love from rainy Norfolk today
        Klausbernd

      6. Stefano Post author

        Dear Klausbernd,
        Unfortunately I do not, which is one of the reasons why I have been postponing a much longed for trip to Antarctica (which is just equally expensive) and one of those icebreaker trips to the Arctic, limiting myself to destinations that could be reached by air and then ground vehicles, hiking or regular boats in the Summer.
        If you would like to, we could share some more thoughts about this subject offline anyway.
        Big hugs,
        Stefano

      7. kbvollmarblog

        Dear Stefano,
        thanks for your reply. Dina and mine problem is the same. Let us share some ideas off line when Dina is back here.
        Big hugs to you too
        Klausbernd

  5. Wilder Man On Rolling Creek

    O-YAY ! ! What a great picture! As a man who is continually blessed by excellent images, I always take a special note, beyond the main image, of what the background is … Yesss, its really cool, to use your words
    “… four-layer background … divided into four bands of brown, yellow, green and cyan”. This is such a blessing.

    Reply
  6. J. G. Burdette

    Those antlers are truly amazing (and the photo too, of course). From my position they look almost soft and fluffy. But no doubt they can do quite a bit of damage!

    Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, JG: aren’t they really amazing!
      And right you are, this image was taken in July, when caribou antlers are indeed still covered in soft velvet, which the animals will shed in September, before the rut. If you are interested, this is an excerpt of an excellent description of caribou antler development from the Journey North website (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/caribou/AntlersA.html):
      “Year after year, the antlers are grown and shed, then re-grown and shed again. The entire process of antler development begins each spring and starts from two permanent stumps of bone called pedicles on the head of each caribou. As the antlers grow they are covered in a hairy skin called velvet. Beneath this outer layer of furry skin are thousand of blood vessels and nerves that carry calcium and other minerals to the developing, soft cartilage-like tissue. During this phase they remain soft and fragile but as a measure of compensation they also grow at an astounding rate, as much as 2.5 cm in a day. This makes them the fastest growing tissue in the animal world.”

      Reply

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