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One serious fight
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Sunday, January 06, 2019
By Jim Zuckerman
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In 1985, I got special permission to spend 4 days on San Miguel Island, the westernmost island of the Channel Islands National Park, California. I wanted to photograph northern elephant seals which had been hunted to near extinction by the end of the 19th century. It is thought there were only between 20 and 40 individuals left. Today, there are about 150,000 thanks to strict conservation policies (in 1985, there were only 11,000), and that's why it was so difficult for me to gain permission to go there. This shot shows two males weighing about 5000 pounds each battling for domination and the right to mate with a harem of females. You can see that blood has been drawn, testifying to the seriousness of this fight. It was very windy, and I was concerned that the wind-blown sand might damage my camera, so I covered it as best as I could with my shirt. I took this with a 250mm Mamiya lens (equivalent to a 135mm medium telephoto), and my settings as I remember were 1/400, f/5.6, and I used Fujichrome Provia 100.

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