Young Wildlife Photographer Makes a Donation to Help Save the Sea

By Justin Cox

Last month, we announced the winners of the Salish Sea in Focus photo contest. The first-place winner in the under-18 category, Faith Halko, replied that same day informing us that she would be donating half of her prize money to the SeaDoc Society.

I found it both heartwarming and inspiring, so I shared her note with the office and we got collectively excited about the endless potential of the next generation. We couldn't help but want to know more about Faith, so we reached out and asked her about the winning photo, Caspian Tern Catch, and how she got into photography in the first place, which you can read below. Thanks, Faith!  

Caspian Tern Catch, by Faith Halko

Caspian Tern Catch, by Faith Halko

By Faith Halko 

In my 5th grade year at Sakai Intermediate School on Bainbridge, my science teachers taught a unit where we learned about birds and how to observe them at different times of the day. Eventually, I started identifying birds on my own and always had a digital camera handy to capture them. After a few more years of birding, I bought a DSLR and realized there were so many more important and even artistic aspects to photography. At that point, I stopped shooting in automatic and experienced a new learning curve to get better photos. 

I took this photo on May 7th, 2018 at Hawley Cove Park on Bainbridge Island. It’s probably one of my favorite places to photograph the birds of the Salish Sea, because it’s near my house and easy to get up close and personal with the birds. The woodland, marsh, and marine habitat make it a great place for wildlife year-round. 

In the photo I took for the contest, I was observing a flock of Caspian terns roosting on a sandbar. They were already paired up for the breeding season and it was interesting to watch them interacting. The pairs took turns bringing back fish for their partner and each time they returned, they would circle the flock multiple times before landing, trying to avoid the opportunistic gulls that were waiting nearby. It was a great chance for me to work on my flight photography. I spent a few hours waiting for the tide to come in and bring the birds closer to me so I could capture better shots.

I think the birds of the Salish Sea are all fascinating. I love seeing them interact with one another and playing their own roles within in their ecosystem. I look forward to learning more about them.