Freeze frame

Fisherman and photographer Corey Arnold
explores the winter bounty of the Bering Sea

By Corey Arnold

Like a land halibut who’s spotted its prey, I flopped onto my stomach and scooted, cautiously, along the icy North Pacific fuel dock with camera plastered against my face. The mighty Dutch Harbor bald eagle was perched on a cleat before me. Her dirty face tore viciously at a pollock carcass, no doubt stolen from a nearby trawl.

I was there to photograph the fishing industry in Alaska’s Aleutian chain. But at the moment, I was facing off with America’s national symbol, whose fight or flight mechanism seemed to be jammed on fight. The bird was growing larger in the viewfinder as I pushed the limits of human/wild animal proximity. I wasn’t sure if this distance was even legal.

An epic screech-roar followed by an evil stare-down reminded me of my vulnerability. These are not small birds. Standing nearly 2 1/2 feet tall like a gang of oversized, armed homeless pigeons, her other eagle friends had me surrounded and were creeping closer. I pulled my hoodie tight over my bare head, and with one last stretch of the elbows, unleashed a firestorm of exposures until the climax sent her into flight.

It was my first day hanging with the Dutch Harbor locals after an 11-day journey out West aboard the factory trawler Seafreeze Alaska, and I was happy to…

 

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