Fern Harbor Sea Otter 14

My Top 10 Favorite Photos of 2008, #8

I got rained on almost continuously for 15 days in July while waiting for a favorable weather window to make the dangerous run from Elfin Cove up the outer coast of Glacier Bay National Park to Lituya Bay. I never got the chance. The reality of motoring around in the North Pacific in 15’+ seas just did not interest me. While passing away the time, I got to spend a few days in one of my favorite locations, Taylor Bay near Cape Spencer. It is an area of unimaginable beauty and pure wilderness. Rugged sea stacks on the coast meet glaciers that come down to the sea surrounded by 12,000′ mountains. Unfortunately, the weather made it impossible to shoot any spectacular landscape scenes, but I did spend a few days photographing the most uninhibited sea otter that I have ever encountered. Usually, sea otters will not let me get within 100 yards of them before they dive down to escape. I have no idea how they were almost exterminated when they used to be hunted. They are just so incredibly shy. This male let me follow him around in the pouring rain in my inflatable. He would swim from one side of the bay to the other all the while diving down and eating everything that he could catch. Sea otters need to eat something like 25% of their body weight every day. Often, he would be visible in the shallow water directly underneath my boat, so I could watch him forage and anticipate where he was going to come back up to the surface to photograph him. This is my favorite image. He captured 2 crabs and brought them back to the surface to eat. I caught this comical expression with his mouth open while eating. This image was created using my Canon 5D, 400mm f4 DO IS lens at f4 and 1/500 second.

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