By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung

INCREDIBLE pictures show the moment a squadron of hungry Dalmation pelicans get up close and personal with the camera as they flock to Lake Kerkini for a fish feast

Scroll down for the full story




Simone gets up close and personal with a Dalmation Pelican as he captures the incredible detail of the bird

The series of intimate snaps captured in February 2016 by university professor, Simone Sbaraglia show the large and hungry pelicans opening their bills as local fishermen hauled in their nets in Greece.

Lake Kerkini is considered to be one of the top European bird watching destinations

Lake Kerkini is a small lake around 100km from Thessaloniki and is known as one of the most important wetlands in Europe and considered to be one of the top European bird watching destinations.

Simone said: “The pelicans are not aggressive and generally not afraid of humans, but they are definitely impetuous when they try to get the fish"

The 42-year-old professor said: "Recently, the destination has become famous among birdwatchers and wildlife photographers and several fishermen have become guides for wildlife lovers wanting to get a close up view of the pelicans.

The destination has recently become famous among birdwatchers and wildlife photographers and several fishermen have become guides for wildlife lovers wanting to get a close up view of the pelicans

“It is a region of small villages and friendly people living a simple life. Most of them are fishermen. Over the course of several hundred years the fishermen of this region have developed a bond with the community of pelicans, which has grown larger and larger as a result.”

This Dalmation pelican is by a slight margin the largest of the pelican species and one of the largest living bird species
A squadron of pelicans fight for their fish dinner thrown to them by generous fishermen

The fishermen start feeding the pelicans during the winter months to help them go through the winter without migrating.

During spring and summer the birds are entirely self-sufficient and are rarely seen near the fishermen, but during the winter months they rely on the fish given by the local fishermen

“The fishermen feed the birds because a significant amount of the pelican population help maintain a healthier ecosystem. If the pelicans were to disappear, the number of cormorants would grow too large, the lake resource would be depleted and the whole ecosystem that they depend on would be at risk.

Simone said: "Over the course of several hundred years the fishermen of this region have developed a bond with the community of pelicans, which has grown larger and larger as a result"
This dalmation pelican is by a slight margin the largest of the pelican species and one of the largest living bird species

“As a result, the birds have grown used to human presence and are not afraid of them anymore. During spring and summer they are entirely self-sufficient and are rarely seen near the fishermen, but during the winter months they rely on the fish given by the local fishermen to supplement their dietary needs.

The intimate snaps show the moment the hungry pelicans open their bills for a fish feast

“I took most of my pictures from the boat of a local fishermen. Although I did not enter the water to avoid disturbing the birds and scaring them away, I took many images by submerging the camera from the boat edge using an inexpensive underwater enclosure. I would ask the fishermen to throw a fish very near the boat and shoot as the pelicans would come close to fetch it.”

The hungry pelicans open their bills as local fishermen haul in their nets in Greece
Simone took the pictures by submerging the camera from the boat edge using an underwater enclosure

“The pelicans are not aggressive and generally not afraid of humans. However they are definitely impetuous when they try to get the fish and frequently fight for the best position. As a result, they do end up biting you bite and can leave significant marks and deep cuts!”