“A fabulous place to see wildlife on a winter’s day,” he says. “This particular year, a large group of harbor seals and Stellar sea lions frequented the harbor to feast on herring.”
Among the Auke Bay herd lived one seal with an especially laid-back disposition. Howard saw the animal so often he came to recognize it. After gorging on fish, the seal would often just chill—lounging belly-up in the water.
“He'd nonchalantly drift around, sometimes just feet from where we stood on the docks,” Howard says. “I could get very close to it without changing its behavior. Occasionally, he would dive or rejoin the other seals to eat more fish, but this was a very common pose for him.
As usual, that day the Auke Bay seal with style was relaxing in its element, mere yards offshore.
“The water was so blue and the seal seemed so content—I thought it was a picture perfect moment!”
Originally from Colorado, Howard is a 37-year resident of Juneau and a retired director of the Habitat Division for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He has experienced many encounters with Alaska’s wildlife over the years—including seals, bears and whales. One humpback used to surface right beside the Auke Bay docks, spraying Howard and others with its blow. He loves to take photographs and has taken at least one picture a day since Jan. 1, 2000, a project he calls “A Photo a Day for Y2K."
“Nature is amazing!” he says. “I think the world would be a better place if everyone could spend a few minutes quietly outside, every day, and just observe this incredible world we live in.”