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A Whole New Animal

“These days I mainly fish salmon,” says photographer Corey Arnold. He and his crew on the Rollo appeared on season two of the hit Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch. “On this Alaskan pollock trawler in the Bering Sea, I was just an observer. It’s a pretty sustainable fishery, despite the fact that it looks like they’re catching enormous amounts of fish. When I first got into commercial fishing, I started taking snapshots on the boats, and people who knew nothing about the industry were often amazed. I began to understand that people on the outside don’t know what commercial fishing looks like, with the strange sea creatures and crazy weather. I thought, I want to be the guy to that has those photos to share.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“I was crabbing for seven years in the Bering Sea. When we’re sleeping or nothing is going on, there are no birds around. Then as soon as you start to work and they know you’re going to be throwing bait over the side, they just come flying in by thousands. They come out of nowhere.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“The king crab season is over right around Halloween, so we often have our costumes ready to go so that if we show up on Halloween we can go straight to the bar in Dutch Harbor. That day we were testing out the costume and seeing how it would work. We packed the head in really carefully, and then my crewman just picked up the cat I had onboard that year as she walked by. It wasn’t premeditated. The picture illustrates a little bit the sense of humor out there. With all the bad weather and mundane work, everyone is joking about everything all the time just to keep their sanity.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“When you pull into Dutch Harbor there are so many eagles everywhere that we had to lock the cat in the cabin because they would’ve scooped her right off the back deck. At any given time you can see a hundred eagles feeding off the garbage in the pot storage yard. We call them the Dutch Harbor pigeons.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“I climbed the mast of the Rollo when while we were waiting out a storm during crab season. There were gusting 80 mile-per-hour winds, and a big squall came. It was pretty intense. I had my camera and I had climbed up there without gloves, so that I could feel my camera. But the wind got crazy, and the temperature was below freezing. My hands cramped up so bad I didn’t think I could hold on to the railing on the way down. Eventually, I had to force my way down before my hands froze completely.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“I was living with some Sami in northern Norway for one week, helping them slaughter reindeer. I was there to document the people and the process... a personal photo project. I came across this reindeer, just standing in the middle of the road, all by himself out there.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“While I was crabbing, we stopped on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. I came across some kids that had a dead gull. I don’t know how it died. It was this huge, beautiful bird and they were playing with it, almost as if it was a stuffed animal. These were tough Alaskan kids that are used to hunting and the realities of nature—there’s a lot of death living in the wilderness in Alaska. It’s just a part of life.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“This is in Bristol Bay, Alaska, near where I fish now in the summer. That’s an abandoned cannery from the turn of the 20th century they’re walking to, called Nakeen. When we have a break, we’re often going up river and exploring the different abandoned canneries. We actually live in an abandoned cannery like this, called Graveyard Point. It’s really remote, bear- and mosquito-infested, swampy. About 120 fishermen live there for about five weeks every year. The mud is deep and expansive. At low tide a lot of Bristol Bay empties out into huge mud flats. Then the water comes back in with force, sometimes 30-foot-tide differences. All the rivers rage upstream, and then they empty back out again twice a day.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“I was staying at a bed and breakfast in Astoria, Oregon, and the owner had a den of raccoons living in her backyard. She was constantly feeding them chocolate chip cookies. They would tap on window, she would open it, hand them a cookie, and they’d walk off. Then the next one would come. There were probably a dozen that lived off her chocolate chip cookies. I’m always fascinated with different ways people treat pets and wildlife. Some people are really comfortable killing animals for food or for sport, and others think it’s horrible to kill animals, whether it’s for food or for sport. ‘Human Animals’ is the title of a collection of images I made as I’ve come across these types of interactions on my travels.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“That’s our engineer, Brian, posing with some king crab while we were fishing on the Rollo. He’d just taken a sauna, and we’ll often cool down outside afterward. I think I caught him doing that, and I asked him to throw his shoes on and grab a couple of crabs. King crab are pretty slow out of water because of gravity weighing them down, but I once put my finger right into a claw and it clamped down. I broke off the entire arm, and it seized at maximum pinch around my finger. I’ve only been pinched once by a king crab, and it was fully documented on the Discovery Channel. Me wailing like a baby and running for a hammer.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“Another stormy day, maybe 20- or 25-foot seas, fishing Opilio crab in the Bering Sea. I’m pretty focused on getting the shot, but I have to keep running away from the rail otherwise I’ll get knocked down by waves and my camera will get drenched. My camera was wrapped in Ziplocs and duct tape. Looking through the lens, sometimes it’s as though you’re watching an unreal event unfold before you and you have to snap out of it and realize you’re still there. There are dangers all the time on a crab boat that you have to react to that can either break you, or your camera.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“These are Pacific cod that we use as bait. We catch it fresh in the pots while we are catching crab. Quite often we’ll get one or two cod in every pot, and we’ll cut them up, string them on a bait jar filled with ground herring or sardines, and hang them right back in the pot as crab bait.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“One of my best friend’s girlfriend was in charge of decorating their house. So that’s their bedroom. I wanted to take a portrait of him with their cat. They have the fattest cat you’ve ever seen. When it walked it’s belly dragged on the ground, like it was swimming around the house. Once this image started circulating, showing up in gallery shows and on the web, he was like, “Oh man. No.” But the next thing I knew it was his Facebook image. It’s part of my ‘Human Animal’ series.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“These next four photos are part of a Pew Foundation sponsored assignment to photograph the state of fishing in the European Union. There’s a big restructuring of EU fishing policies that’s happening supposed to be finalized next year, so gearing up for that they sent me all over Europe creating images they could use to explain commercial fishing today.. This is an inshore prawn trawler in Scotland. The chain goes all the way down to the bottom, dragging a net along it. It was a tired old boat because close to shore has been quite over-fished. While the near shore waters were once rich, now you need a bigger boats to get to fish further offshore.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“I’m on a French prawn trawler in the Brittany region. Fishing is really different in Europe than Alaska. In Europe, it’s mostly trawlers, dragging a net along the bottom. The problem is that there’s a huge variety of fish hanging out together. For example: If you catch your cod quota, but you still have more haddock to catch, it’s difficult because they often swim together in the same area. So you have to throw the extra cod over the side because you’re not allowed to bring those in legally. There’s massive amounts of dumping of dead fish over the side. The fishermen are sick about it—they don’t want to be doing it. But the rules are so complicated that they must do it or they can face serious fines and penalties.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“This is octopus fishing in Spain on the Galician coast. There were a ton of boats, and apparently, it’s pretty sustainable.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“We caught this lesser spotted dogfish in Scotland on a prawn trawler. These were really common bottom trawled fish that I encountered all over Europe. They’re bottom dwelling sharks. I held it up and took a portrait of it because it had the most amazing face. He’s sucking his face in so its neck became wrinkled is a remotely human fashion. They’re very resilient little creatures.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“That’s Brian, my engineer, again, pondering on the Rollo. Traveling to and from the grounds, it’s often 24 hours or more just to get where we’re going to fish. There’s always a lot of down time. A lot of hurry up and wait.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“I was exploring Lost Lake, Oregon, with some friends, and talked my friend in running across melting lake ice in his birthday suit. He is a world class mountain guide so it captured a bit of his spirit.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“This was shot on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. I would get really close to these birds, then move the camera a little bit and they’d jump up and snap...”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“I was doing a shoot for Discovery Channel in Shishmaref, Alaska, one of the communities that is seeing some of the greater impacts of global warming early on. The Arctic ice pack is melting sooner, so storms are hitting the coast earlier and later. The entire town is basically going to fall into the ocean, so they’re trying to relocate. This is one of the buildings that has fallen in already. There are lots of warming skeptics, but everywhere I’ve been in Arctic, they’ll tell you it’s average 4-7 degrees warmer already. It’s already changing the face of the landscape.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“I lived for four years in Oslo, Norway and I started venturing north to see how fishing compares to Alaska. This is haddock hanging to dry in Mehamn, above the Arctic Circle. These are strung up to dehydrate in the cod dry arctic wind. They sell this stockfish mostly to southern Europe for delicacies like bacalao.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“That’s me on a long, lonely trip—two months fishing cod in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, with one other guy. Fishing every day got old after a while. I decided to make this picture, which portrays not only the respect for the fish we’re killing, but also a bit of the loneliness from the deprivation of having loved ones around at sea.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“A typical winter day of fishing Opilio crab in the Bering Sea, aboard the Rollo again. I kind of blew it because some times it would be so cold and stormy and I was so exhausted from the nearly round the clock work days, that I couldn’t muster the energy to bring my camera out on deck. There could be twice as much ice on the boat then in this photograph.  There is a wire heating system in the pilothouse windows but sometimes the ice freezes over them anyway.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“This is my fellow crewman, Matthew, throwing a gull off the deck in the middle of the night. Often during storms, seabirds crash land on the deck. I think they get confused by our lights. You’ve got to chase down and throw them over the side so they don’t get hurt or crushed by our pots.  I’m not sure why they don’t take off on their own, they usually fly from our arms.”

Photo: Corey Arnold

“This is a self portrait shot while I was making the Vaquita story in Mexico for Audubon. I proudly support the local ceramic donkey industry.”

For more information about Corey Arnold, visit his blog. His exhibit “Fishing with MY Dad 1978-1995” runs through November 27 at the Ampersand Gallery, Portland, Oregon.

Photo: Corey Arnold

A Whole New Animal

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