Torch Bay Sea Otters 6
Most photographers do not appreciate how difficult it is to photograph sea otters in Southeast Alaska. Plenty of people, myself included, have photographed the approachable sea otters in California, but the “wild” ones in Alaska see you coming from a mile away and want nothing to do with you. This is probably a good thing, since sea otters were previously hunted for their fur almost to the point of extinction. I have watched rafts of hundreds of sea otters in Glacier Bay National Park, near Cape Spencer, and in Frederick Sound, but none of them have allowed me to get close enough for a decent picture, even with a long lens. After being frustrated so often by their elusive nature, I was surprised to find this cooperative mother & baby during my brief visit to Torch Bay last June while returning from my amazing Lituya Bay visit. It was pouring rain, but fortunately I was able to set up my 500mm lens & tripod underneath the rain canopy on the back deck of my 22′ C-Dory while my friend Dominik Modlinksi manned the helm. The mother repeatedly dove to the bottom to catch some food. When she returned to the surface, it was all she could do to grab a bite of her catch before her little one voraciously snatched it away from her. (It was kinda like me trying to eat ice cream around my daughters.) After stealing mom’s food, the baby would climb on top of her for comfort & bonding. It was a beautiful wildlife experience in a unique setting and I am happy that I came away with a few images.