As a resident of Alaska, Pam Aus is used to the great outdoors of what is called “The Last Frontier.” The biggest state in the Union is known for its sprawling forests and mountainous regions, as well as its incredibly diverse wildlife. But when Pam headed out to her porch one day in 2012 to check on her pet cat, the 64-year-old opened her front door to an incredible scene. Fortunately for us, she had a camera to hand to capture what she found.
Pam works for a shipping salvage company and lives off the Alaskan mainland in the remote settlement of Unalaska on the Aleutian Islands. This windswept island chain, situated between the North Pacific and the Bering Sea, has a pretty tough climate, and is shrouded in fog and rain for much of the year. The area also makes up the northern part of the seismic Pacific Ring of Fire, and several of the Aleutians’ 57 volcanoes are still very much active.
Relatively chilly and short summers and extremely harsh and long winters mean that very few trees can survive on the islands. But nevertheless, they are covered with grasses and flowering plants. The Aleutians also boast millions of seabirds, many of which – including the whooper swan and black-headed gull – cannot be found anywhere else in North America. In addition, the rocky shores of the Aleutian Islands provide homes for countless numbers of puffins, gulls and guillemots.