Kingdom of the Bears
Located in Southern Alaska, Katmai National Park covers over 4 million acres and is a sanctuary for Coastal Brown Bears who live in complete isolation from mankind, apart from those who come to observe, photograph and study the bears.
In August 2016 I met my fellow photographers in Kodiak where we boarded a float plane that took us across the channel to Katmai National Park. The plane landed on the water of a secluded bay. We were then taken by zodiac to our home for the next five days, a crab boat from the fleet made famous by the Deadliest Catch television show. Each day we were outfitted in chest waders and rubber boots and our guide led us by zodiac to
experience the wonders of the Katmai Coast. Carrying 50 pounds of photography gear on our backs was also part of the experience!
I was surprised by how little the bears paid attention to us, as if we were completely invisible to them. Having lived all of their lives in a sanctuary, the bears had no fear of man. If a bear got too close we were told to kneel and bow to the bear and it would permit us to stay. Submission to the ruling monarchy is apparently the key to survival in the Kingdom of the Bears. It was evident that the bears were locked in a life and death struggle to get enough salmon for the coming winter season. We spent most of our time in a sanctuary of mother bears and cubs and we were thrilled to watch the playful antics of the little ones, each with distinct personalities. A heart-stopping moment occurred when two adult bears battled one another over territory in a salmon feeding area that was very close to our group.
As I left the Katmai Coast I realized that what the bears need the most is to be left alone to live their lives without the encroachment of man. Such a precious ecosystem deserves our respect and requires our absence.