Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blooming on the Tundra

Summer is finally hear on the tundra. The sky is a patch work of fluffy clouds and endless blue. The leaves on the trees have undone themselves in united worship of the sun. Insects buzz. Slowly, slowly life is blooming.

Solstice on the Tundra

Twelve midnight next to a tundra pond Naknek, Alaska

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dave Panruk

Dave Panruk a native Alaskan fisherman hanging his nets in South Naknek. Below His grandson Bradley helps his grandfather by loading up a hanging needle with cork line. The needle holds the cork line which Dave uses to tie his webbing to the lead line and white corks (plastic buoys).


The amazing Soul Felt Media team made this movie coming out soon! It won two awards at the Telluride Film Festival and is hopefully going on to win more in the coming year. Its a must see for anyone interested in the Pebble Mine issue. But, its also a must see for anyone interested in protecting this worlds few remaining wilderness areas. The movie captures the essence of Alaska and the emotion of the people who have been so captivated by the last frontier state. Its full of rich and powerful character profiles and laced with inspirational wildlife and nature footage.

Smashing job gents! Smashing!

You don't make them, you hang them!

Vlatko Kolega is fondly known by his friends as Woly. He's croatian born and lives in the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, Washington. Woly's been fishing for Bristol Bay sockeye for over 40 years! I watched amazed as he weaved his fingers around the blue lead line, secured his floats and zipped his knots tight before moving swiftly on to the next section. I keep having to remind myself that you don't MAKE hang them. Gets me every time.

The kindness of strangers is ubiquitous in Naknek. I spent several hours with Woly and his friend, and fellow countryman, Nick, on board his boat the Seafire. He'd just served a huge bowl of spaghetti to a group of fishermen when I found him. After viewing postcards of his home town in Croatia we spoke about his time up in Alaska fishing for red gold and of course the mine. He's eager to get in the water and start fishing, but its still cold up here and the fish are not showing up in the usual numbers for this time of year - plenty of time for hanging more nets for when they do.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yesterdays Catch

Daniel (left) and Ben Blakey, Naknek fishermen who spend their winters in land locked Boulder CO introducing people to their delicious and sustainable seafood. Check out

Kevin (above), captain of F/V Deborah and his crew mate and brother-in-law Mark.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

This little chap has decided to pop round the offices where I'm based. He's been around a couple of times now, scrounging for food. Looks like his winter coat is shedding and he's certainly in need of a little summer fattening. A curious fella he comes up very close and peers intelligently with his beautiful eyes. I'm referring to him as a male, but I'm not too sure what sex it is. He appears and then disappears like magic blending with the ever changing colours of the tundra.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Waiting for Salmon

Its cold up here. Not cold, cold, but colder than usual. In fact so colder-than-usual that even the local fishery biologist has said that this is unusually cold weather for this time of year. The standard greeting between fishermen and friends is "I've never seen the tundra so brown this time of year" or "I've been coming up here for 20 years and never seen..." We even had a snow flurry one morning this week! What does this all mean?

The salmon will likely be late. The infamous Copper River Salmon, so cherished for their 'unique' flavour haven't turned up yet, at least not in the numbers expected and the salmon down south on the Columbia river only just turned up, weeks late and to the joy of fishermen and fisheries managers alike. Late in Bristol Bay means the boats will remain in dry land for a while yet giving fishermen a few days grace to finalise any last minute repairs or projects on their boats and give me a little extra time to meander round photographing them. Here's a couple of mug shots I took today on my travels. Tomorrow I hope to shoot some women in Naknek who hang nets.