Wenona Suydam: Curious Little Weasel


An ermine weasel was running about in the rocks by the highway bridge—in and out, up and over, to the shore and back.

“Ermine are very fast but this one stopped long enough for me to get a photo,” she wrote in an email. “It spent about 30 minutes playing.”

Suydam has been involved with commercial fishing for more than 50 years. Born in Cordova, Suydam moved to Kodiak—one of the world’s great fishing ports—with her family in the early 1960s. Her life there, she says, has been “extraordinary.”

“From the time I was 9 years old, I spent all my summers fishing on the family boat and later fishing on other boats as I grew older. I met my husband in 1981 and started fishing with him.”

As they raised a family, they ran the salmon seiner F/V Wenona and crabbed in the Bering Sea with F/V Lady Alaska, F/V Lady Kodiak, F/V Lady Aleutian, F/V Lady Kiska and the F/V Lady Pribilof. “They were known as the Lady Boats around the fleet,” Suydam said.

Then, about 10 years ago, Suydam got a Canon Rebel camera and began taking shots of Alaska’s wildlife. The hobby grew on her, drawing her to visit some of Alaska’s most remote places, where she’s photographed bears, seals, sea lions, otters, walrus, bald eagles and more. Generally, she prowls Kodiak’s winding road system four days a week in search of new subjects.

Once she and husband were exploring a four-wheeler trail about 40 miles out of town, and they spied a fox. Suydam sat on the ground with camera in hand and waited.

“The fox kept coming towards me so I laid on my stomach,” she said. “This little fox came up about five feet away, looked at me, and then laid down on its stomach—putting its head down on its paws—and just stared back at me with the cutest look I have ever seen.”

Kalsin Bay also gave Suydam an unforgettable, uncanny moment.

After playing in the rocks, the ermine scurried to the water and caught a fish in its mouth. And then, the bold creature presented its prize to the human with the camera.

“It dropped the fish at my feet, looked at me, then picked it back up and ran off,” she said. “ Who would have thought that little animal would trust me enough to come show me his fish?”

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