Photographing Alaska’s Brown Bears
We asked Edwin to give us some insight into the recent trip he helped guide to photograph Alaska’s coastal brown bears. Here are his thoughts and some great images as usual.
More than 32,000 brown bears call Alaska home. Even though there are technically two subspecies in North America (the grizzly and the Kodiak), all brown bears in Alaska are genetically identical. The difference between Coastal and Grizzly Bears is geographical and diet. As their name suggests, Alaskan coastal brown bears live along the coast where the living is easier and the climate is better. They enjoy a greater amount of animal protein, mainly in the form of fish in their diet and hence get larger. The grizzly has to work harder for its food and is more aggressive.
Although the coastal brown bears have learned to live close to people it doesn’t mean they are less aggressive than the grizzly, they are just less shy. Our local guides Mark and Megan told us a lot about these bears.
Salmon are not easy to catch, even in shallow water. The mother often sat on the bank looking for any movement in the water and ran at full speed trying to catch a fish and often standing up to have a better look. It wasn’t my first time here so I decided not to focus on action shots like I did last time, but on the more personal and intimate shots like silhouettes and portraits.
Being this close to a wild and powerful animal like the brown bear is an adventure I will never forget. I’ve seen fights to the death on television and am well aware of what they can do. They can run at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, climb trees, swim and knock out Mike Tyson when he was still in his prime. Disrespect a bear and you will pay the price big time! But never have I ever seen a dangerous situation at the Silver Salmon lodge. The guides are professionals and will watch our backs and teach us how to behave.
Being close to them is a privilege and the best time I had was while taking portrait shots. Also, I can’t deny I felt a bit of adrenaline rushing through my veins when we heard a wolf howling and minutes later showing itself on the beach. All in all a wonderful trip and looking forward to my next.
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