Photos by Paul Souders
Text by Erin Reilly
Wildlife photographer Paul Souders has no problem getting up close and personal with his subjects. He has been "terrorized by vertebrates large and small," he said, yet continues to snap their pictures despite the risk. Photographing brown bears in Alaska is no exception.
"Being close to brown bear cubs is a highlight of any trip to Alaska," he said. "It can also be incredibly risky, as mothers are well-known for ferociously defending their offspring."
During expeditions, Souders prefers staying on a boat (rather than in a tent) to watch the annual gathering of brown bears feasting on spawns of salmon in Katmai National Park. The weather can be intense when autumn storms roll through, with pounding rain and hurricane-force winds.
"I for one never had the nerve to camp out like that, preferring to stay on my small boat," he said. "I've used this boat to explore Southeast Alaska as well as the remote coastline west of Kodiak Island. I put more that 10,000 sea miles on her."
For years, Souders has been trying to show the "salmon's eye" point of view, as hungry bears hunt them underwater. He has spent weeks in Katmai National Park photographing the relationship between the bears and the salmon, and struggled to capture images like the photo above.
"I wound up using a custom underwater camera housing, fired by a radio controlled remote mounted at the edge of a deep pool along a salmon spawning stream in Kukak Bay," he said. "I spent four long days sitting by that river, shooting pictures any time a bear decided to swim past."