Brad Josephs points out a group of bears digging for clams along they beach as we enter Kuliak Bay by skiff. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS.

With the Coastal Brown Bears of Alaska

The brown bear ranges throughout coastal Alaska and western Canada. The brown bears of Katmai and their closely related cousins, Kodiak bears, are among the largest of all brown bears. Because of a diet rich in fatty salmon, they may reach a weight of up to 1,750 pounds (800 kg), roughly as large as polar bears. By contrast, the inland grizzly bear subsists on a leaner diet of berries, vegetation and small mammals, and thus is generally smaller. While the term grizzly bear is often used to refer to all brown bears, the grizzly is really a subspecies of brown bear.

Observing these magnificent animals at close range requires care—not  only for our safety, but for the animals'. Our guide, biologist Brad Josephs, explained how to behave in the field. He stressed the importance of moving deliberately, keeping low, and staying together as a group: tactics designed to place the least amount of stress on the bears.

While they may look lumbering at rest, brown bears can move with a quick grace and agility, as does this bear
while fishing in the fading light at Kinak Bay. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF  500mm f/4.0L IS.

 

Photographer Bob Kennewick on the deck of the Kittiwake. Despite the D70 in his hand, Bob did most of his
"serious" shooting on film with his proven F5. I think by the end of this trip, the D2X and 1Ds Mark II shooters in
the group had pretty much converted him to digital. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 16-35mm f/2.8L, 550EX.

 

Two members of the Kittiwake and Waters crew maneuver a skiff gingerly around a shoal while the ships rest at
anchor in Kinak Bay. One bonus of the weather: the skies during our trip were often a spectacular mélange of
light and cloud. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, EF Extender 2X.

 

Brown bear, Kuliak Bay, Alaska. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 500mm f/4.0L IS.

 

Brad Josephs maintains a watchful eye, Geographic Harbor, Alaska.
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, EF 24 -70mm f/2.8L.

 

Brown bear, Geographic Harbor, Alaska. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 500mm f/4.0L IS.

 

Brown bears are very good swimmers, as this bear demonstrates while fishing for salmon near Kuliak Bay, Alaska.
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, EF Extender 2X.

 

For the most part the bears observed a careful respect for one another. Once in a while tempers would flare, but
cooler heads prevailed. Usually it is females with young cubs who most aggressively warn other bears away.
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 500mm f/4.0L IS.

 

An immature eagle that has not yet developed its adult feathering keeps a
watchful eye from its perch high above the salmon run. Canon EOS 1Ds
Mark II, EF 500mm f/4.0L IS, EF Extender 2X.

 

A mother and cub share a moment, Geographic Harbor, Alaska. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, EF 500mm f/4.0L IS.