NCTC Makes Scarce Bull Trout Photos Available – No Bull!

Bull Trout // Photo Credit: Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock with Wade Fredenberg

The enterprising efforts of a National Geographic photographer, Region 6’s bull trout coordinator, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library have made new photos of one of nature’s most highly-prized – and threatened – fish species available for agency and public use. Twenty-five of National Geographic’s best bull trout still images are now posted in low-resolution format for public domain use, bolstering efforts to draw attention to the declining species, which was listed as threatened throughout its range in 1999 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Region 6 bull trout coordinator Wade Fredenberg teamed with noted Geographic photographer Joel Sartore in 2009 to capture underwater and aquarium-staged shots of bull trout in British Columbia’s Wigwam River drainage, the headwaters of the Kootenai River, known as the “crown jewel” of bull trout spawning areas. The remote region supported as many as 2,500 bull trout spawning redds as recently as 2006, and the duo spent 2 days applying some high-tech techniques to capture split-view close-ups of bull trout from above and below the water surface. “I’ve always been frustrated that the ‘dead fish on a stick’ or ‘flopping fish being released’ shots just can’t do this species justice,” says Fredenberg. “The 48 hours spent getting these photos were one of the personal highlights of my career. Not only were there bull trout, but big bull trout – and lots of them – paired off in the cold, crystalline waters, preparing to spawn. The intervening year while we have been anticipating these photos has been like waiting for Christmas for me.” When National Geographic took its magazine article in a different direction and elected not to use the photos, Fredenberg and NCTC image librarian Jenny Peterson quickly purchased rights to the 25 photos and has since posted them online for wider scientific and educational use.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library - Bull Trout Images

 -- published --  November 30, 2010
 -- photo credit --  Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock with Wade Fredenberg

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