Fair Isle ‘Life and Death’ photo wins national award
It’s an image that demonstrates the brutal reality of nature in Fair Isle.
And the photographer behind it hopes the shot makes people reflect on the environmental threat posed by climate change.
Sunil Gopalan took Life and Death at the Edge of the World (Great Skua and Puffin) and it has earned him first place in the Animal Behaviour category of the British Wildlife Photography Awards.
Mr Gopalan spent a week in Fair Isle in the summer of 2017 – his first visit to the UK – with the aim of photographing the puffin colonies.
His award-winning shot was taken on a “non-descript” morning. He had been up since 3.30am and had been alone on the cliffs before eventually deciding to go for something to eat.
He said: “I heard a great racket from the far side and this skua had grabbed some breakfast of its own. It proceeded to make quick work of it giving no mind to my close presence.”
He says that gave him the opportunity to “capture the circle of life” at point blank. “I have thoroughly enjoyed your wildlife and the seabird colonies on the Shetland Isles are unparalleled. I am planning on being back in the summer of 2019.”
The American photographer says winning the award means a great deal. He said he was aware the photo may upset some people but added that the bigger concern was the damage being caused to seabirds by climate change
Mr Gopalan added: “I know some people don’t like seeing the death of a lovable bird like the puffin captured on camera – but I hope that concern will translate into some thought towards human-caused climate change which is the real cause of concern for the seabirds across the world.”