Freshwater Bay, Alaska

I came for the whales. I stayed for the jellyfish.

There have been days when the whales have gone wandering, the sea lions scattered and the eagles elusive. But during the short Alaska summer, life abounds below the ocean surface as well.

While sheltering in a small bay from the afternoon winds that turn Chatham Strait into a lumpy, quease-inducing mess, I looked down and noticed an enormous red jellyfish. And another. Cool. They were softly swaying, trailing long translucent filaments.

I quickly dragged out the underwater housing for my camera. There’s not much science involved in this. I haven’t dropped the requisite thousands on a remote video viewing system, so it’s strictly spray and pray. You stick the camera underwater, point it in the general direction of the jellyfish and start snapping.

Even in sheltered water, there’s always some current or puff of wind moving the boat. Generally speaking, and I do so from experience, it’s a good idea not to run the object of your photographic inquiry through the propellors.

I was feeling very pleased with myself, showing initiative and a bit of macho toughness, spending a couple hours with my arms plunged into the cold water. It wasn’t until a dozen thin red welts started rising on my arms that I started having second thoughts.

Photographed July 27, 2010 with a Canon EOS-1Ds III with 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens

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4 Responses to “Freshwater Bay, Alaska”

  1. U. Ville says:

    Wow, beautiful! I'm sure the same can't be said of your arms, though.

  2. Danny Blanchard says:

    Hey Paul, I see you're back in Alaska, so perhaps I'll see you out chasin' whales! I'm working on the Safari Explorer (145' blue hull, white super structure) this week, and the Safari Spirit (105', same color scheme) until September 3rd. If we're sharing an anchorage sometime, I'll grab one of our skiffs and stop by. I was chasing salmon at the base of Pavlof last week from a paddleboard, and I'd love to hear where you've been spending your time!

    Happy chasing,

    Danny Blanchard
    American Safari Cruises

    PS: I bought a 34' steel sloop this Christmas and I'm doing a full re-equip this January-April when I get back from Thailand/Solomons – she's sitting at 1900 Westlake Ave, and I hope to be living on her full time by next summer. I just remembered that you mentioned something about having an interest in steel sailboats, which is rather uncommon, so yep! : )

  3. Walking Poem says:

    I like your work…I grew up on a boat up there…sometime you should try and catch moon jellies in their mating cycles…they will form huge colonies that are a mile in diameter. It's truly extraordinary.

  4. Iain D. Williams says:

    I like jellies….. Neat shot, Iain

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