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River horse

River horse
Photo Information
Copyright: Gerhard Theron (gerhardt) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1936 W: 244 N: 4106] (11620)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-09-15
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS USM, Digital ISO 400
Exposure: f/4, 1/800 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Mammals of Southern Africa II, Nature's cutest, uMkhuze Game Reserve 1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2006-11-26 15:32
Viewed: 8295
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 66
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
(Hippopotamus amphibius)

The word Hippopotamus is derived from the Greek hippopotamos, hippos meaning "horse" and potamos meaning "river".

Hippopotamuses are gregarious, living in groups of up to 40 animals, called a pod, herd, school or bloat. A hippo's lifespan is typically 40 to 50 years. Female hippos will reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 years, and have a gestation period of 8 months.

Hippos average 3.5 metres (11 ft) long, 1.5 m (5 ft) tall at the shoulder, and weigh from 1500 kg to 3200 kg (3,300 to 7,000 lb). They are approximately the same size as the White Rhinoceros. Male hippos appear to continue growing throughout their lives, whereas the females reach a maximum weight at around the age of 25. Even though they are bulky animals, hippos can run faster than a human on land. There are estimates of their running speed varying from 30 km/h (18 mph) to 40 km/h (25 mph), or even 50 km/h (30 mph).

The eyes, ears, and nostrils of the hippo are placed high on the roof of the skull. This allows them to spend most of the day with the majority of their body submerged in the waters of tropical rivers to stay cool and prevent sunburn.

For additional protection from the sun, their skin secretes a natural sunscreen substance which is red-colored. This secretion is sometimes referred to as "blood sweat," but it is not actually blood, nor sweat. This secretion starts out colorless and turns red-orange within minutes, eventually becoming brown.

There are two distinct pigments that have been identified in the secretions, red and orange. The two pigments are highly acidic compounds. The light absorption of both pigments peaks in the ultraviolet range, creating a sunscreen effect. Hippos all over the world secrete the pigments so it does not appear that food is the source of the pigments.

As indicated by the name, ancient Greeks considered the hippopotamus to be related to the horse. Until 1985, naturalists grouped hippos with pigs, based on molar patterns. However evidence, first from blood proteins, then from molecular systematics, and more recently from the fossil record, show that their closest living relatives are cetaceans – whales, porpoises and the like. Hippopotami have more in common with whales than they do with other artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates), such as pigs. Thus, the common ancestor of hippos and whales existed after the branch-off from ruminants, which occurred after the divergence from the rest of the even-toed ungulates, including pigs. While the whale and hippo are each other's closest living relatives, their lineages split very soon after their divergence from the rest of the even-toed ungulates.

Runnerduck, PDP, extramundi, marhowie, scottevers7, wkshelton, Fisher, lovenature, manyee, jossim, blakitan, JPlumb, greenpinkorange, pauljk, coasties, red45, SelenE, dew77, Janice, wallhalla15, Hil, SunToucher, traveller, Watershed has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To traveller: Thanx for the kind words...gerhardt 1 12-04 00:06
To PDP: Thanx for the kind words...gerhardt 2 11-26 15:52
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Critiques [Translate]

  • PDP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 2821 W: 344 N: 3779] (11769)
  • [2006-11-26 15:39]
  • [+]

Hi Gerhard, Lovely shot! Great pose and I like the little one next to it. If I'm going to nit pick here (and I am) I would say perhaps a little more than F4 here to get the eyes sharper? Everything else is perfect!

Hope you are keeping well?


This is superb Gerhard, just fantastic! Such incredible detail and the light is fantastic! Great pov -although probably a bit too close ;-)
The sunscreen info in your note was really interesting.
This guy has some major dental issues!!
Great work, thanks for posting.
(Hope your keeping well).

Hi Gerhard.
A pleasure to see a post from you, I dont post very often either and it is nce to meet you again, MF.
Excellent colours, good sharpness and wondeful colours captured. As always a killer note to document this huge beauty.
Best regards, Felipe.

Hallo Gerhard,
ein sehr schönes Bild, es sieht aus, als würde es in die Kamera lachen. Kaum zu glauben, daß diese Tiere so gefährlich werden können.
Viele Grüße,

What a fantastic catch Gerhard!
I must say it's a refreshing post..in more ways than one :) This is the kind of shot that not only puts the fun back in shooting, but makes it exciting as well.
From the eye contact to the POV, and overall quality it's a top shot...I think 1/800th was just right to freeze the movement and produce a very sharp image. Excellent work.
Very well done!!

Hi Gerhard,
This is a superb shot of what appears to be a mom and young one. The light quality is superb here. Beautiful colors and sharp detail in this spot on exposure. I would love to get the chance to photograph them in person one day. The 500 has done a great job here.

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2006-11-26 17:26]

Hi Gerhard,

a very colorfull capture,very sharp and detailed and I like the low POV,I have booked a trip to the kruger beginning of next year so I hope to see some hippos as well,



  • Great 
  • Fisher Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1540 W: 309 N: 2234] (8915)
  • [2006-11-26 17:33]

Hi Gerhard,

I guess you needed that monster to keep away from the jaws of death.
Excellent shot, well done on all counts.


Excellent capture Gerhard.
I love that the baby hippo is just peeking his nose out of the water. The colours, composition and sharpness is just great. Nicely framed as the mother hippo has her head just out of the water.
TFS Janice
PS...it's -30C here today

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2006-11-26 19:31]

Wow, Gerhard, that is awesome!
You could not have asked for a better POV if you had planned for it.
That big guy has some awfully big teeth!
Excellent light and focus and full of fantastic action.

I hope you are well. We miss seeing you on TN. : )
Warmest regards,

Hi Gerhard,
Great details! Great DoF, superb sharpness and very neat BG. Excellently capturing this hippo.
Superb shot.

Ben Lakitan

  • Great 
  • JPlumb Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
  • [2006-11-26 20:13]

Hi Gerhard, This looks like and I understand is a very scary dangerous animal. You have an excellent capture here with great detail and colour on the head. It is very well positioned.

This Hippo didn't brush its teeth!
I really like this shot. a very comical one..
Nice POV and good capture of action. The sharpness is very well done with good focus. Good one.

Hi Gerhard,
Stunning capture full of drama.Technically excellent with exposure and composition. As Paul mentioned the DOF on the eyes is a smidge soft but given the kit you used it would be hard to eliminate this. Great light. Awesome.

Hello Gerhard

How fantastic to see a post from you, and what a great one it is too. This chunky charachter appears to have a smile in his face. Awesome composition with perfect low POV. Nice colours and as always, excellent quality! Thank you MF!

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2006-11-27 2:13]

Great pose, great focus, sharpness and composition. TFS

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2006-11-27 2:14]

Hi Gerhard!

This is most funny and friendly hippo I've ever seen. It must be really relaxed :-) Excellent moment, pose and POV. Details inside hippo are very well seen :-) Toothbrush is needed I think.

But seriously - I read that hippos are much more dangerous than crockodiles. On Discovery there was program about victims of hippos - almost no one survive meeting with these 'beast'. Be carefull my friend :-)

Big smile photo!
Excellent details and light,

  • Great 
  • viv Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 292 W: 3 N: 653] (3317)
  • [2006-11-27 5:29]

Hi Gerhardt,
What a pretty composition of this hippo, you were really close. Sharp and the POV I like a lot.
Great job.

Hello Gerhard,


TFS kyle

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2006-11-27 11:04]

Hello Gerhard,
Magnificent capture.Exposure is spot on,details are crisp clear.I liked,POV,moment you caught,sharpness and composition a lot.Excellent work!

bonjour gerhard
magnifique,sujet rare mais tres bien photographié ici,bravo.

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2006-11-27 14:08]

Hi Gerhard, what a super shot of mother and child! I love seeing the nose of the little one - looks quite tiny. It's a lovely moment, and I think the lighting is good too. Well done,

Fantastic POV Gerhard!
Excellent work with the 500. Wow... I love this picture. Looks dangerous..... Excellent framing, exposure and great sharpness too. Very nice colours, excellent note about the Hippo - this is an excellent presentation. Thank you my friend.

  • Great 
  • Hil Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 696 W: 13 N: 1407] (5035)
  • [2006-11-27 15:35]

Hi Gerhard,

Super shot with a great pose and POV, the details are excellent with all the bristles standing out really well, nice natural colours and fanastic lighting.

TFS Hilary :o)

  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2006-11-27 16:02]

Hello Gerhardt

Dit blyk my dat vanwee my ontydige operasie en deurmekaar periode daarnaa het ek ongelukkig jou kuier in my geweste gemis. Dit is regtig baie jammer want ek wou ontsettend graag met jou kennis maak en dalk 'n episode of wat saam gestap het. So is die lewe maar en dinge draai nie altyd uit soos ons dit graag wou gehad het nie. Dit lyk ten minste of jy 'n aangename tydjie gehad het.

This is a great shot of these two hippos, showing the interaction between the mother and child. I really like the colour tones, the lighting / exposure, and the exceptional details you managed to capture. Pretty close it was too. I hope your were sitting in the comfort and safety of a hide or some place similar and did not wade in the water for this shot. These creatures can tear your clothes, but you know that.

Excellent work and TFS.
Keep well

  • Great 
  • jossim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1538 W: 5 N: 2240] (12636)
  • [2006-11-27 16:11]

Je crois que le combat est inégale entre les deux.Celui au fond est beaucoup plus gros et semble très agrésif. Bravo pour l'action et les superbe détails.
Merci pour le partage Gerhard!

  • Great 
  • RAP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2524 W: 345 N: 2373] (7405)
  • [2006-11-27 17:49]

Gran captura amigo mío con todos los condimentos que debe tener una excelente composición.
Perfecto punto de vista al mismo nivel de los animales con foco y DOF del mismo tenor.
Excelente control de la luz, intensos colores, aunque sin alcanzar a saturarlos y el bonus de la pequeña reflexión.
Mis mejores saludos... Ricardo

Great capture my friend with all the condiments that it should have an excellent composition.
Perfect point of view at the same level of the animals with focus and the DOF of same tenor.
Excellent control of the light, intense colors, although without overtake saturating them and the bonus of the small reflection.
My best regards... Ricardo

Hi Gerhard,
What a stunning moment captured. Or was is more a scary moment captured, since these animals are real killers, especailly with a little baby close by. The sharpness, light and colors are superb and I love the way you've been able to freeze the action.

  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2006-11-28 13:37]

Fantastic shot Gerhard , a beauty compositie , light colours pov amezing , Greetings Teunie .


Awesome action shot. Clarity and sharpness are great! The clear BG, soft lighting and composition are excellent. Well Done once again! Sheriff

A nice smile he has! :) Yes, as many put it - really fantastic! Great capture and notable sharpness in such a situation! Where were you standing or sitting? - You never specify. Right on the shore?

A super shot of both mother hippo and its young calf. The details an colors are spot on and make an exciting picture. :)

Hi Gerhard,
Very nice shot! I+ really like the composition and the details of this photograph! Well done Gerhard.

  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-11-10 9:42]

Hi Gerhad, fantastic close up of the Hippo. Very well caught with great pov. The Hippo is so crisp and sharp with great detail and textures. Great drama and action.

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