Photography and conservation can go hand in hand

We interviewed long time Raincoast supporters, Eric and Lynn Sambol, about our Safeguarding Coastal Carnivores campaign.

Long time Raincoast backers and photographers, Eric and Lynn Sambol have been consistent supporters of our Safeguarding Coastal Carnivores Program. They have generously contributed financially to our tenure purchases since 2010 and donated numerous images which have served as staples to our fundraising efforts. On their recent trip to the Great Bear Rainforest, they traversed the Spirit Bear, Nadeea, Raincoast, and Southern tenures witnessing the beauty these places have to offer. They believe that photography and conservation go hand in hand.

We interviewed them about their experiences and why they choose to support our Safeguarding Coastal Carnivores Initiative

Humpback whale feeding.
Photo by Eric Sambol.
Spirit bear walking on the side of a river.
Photo by Lynn Sambol.
Grizzly bear in the fog.
Photo by Eric Sambol.
Sea otter eating a crab.
Photo by Eric Sambol.

How did you initially find out about Raincoast? 

I first heard about Raincoast when I was on a photography expedition in Katmai National Park in 2009. There, I met and became immediate friends with Larry Travis, from Vancouver Island, who was a big fan and supporter of Raincoast. 

The very next year, in October of 2010, Larry invited us to join him and his wife on a boat to explore the Great Bear Rainforest. It was like living in a dream for those 8 days. We were swept up by the ethereal beauty and magic of that place. We could clearly see the difference Raincoast is making. The organization is a team of doers, not talkers. It’s such a simple formula, buy up all of the commercial hunting permits, and you take away the senseless killing of these critical components of the ecosystem. Contributing to Raincoast’s tenure acquisitions was a no-brainer.

You’re both quite the world travelers. How does the Great Bear Rainforest stand out to you? 

Pure beauty, of course…mature and dense temperate rainforest, having the chance to witness fauna and flora in balance. There is a sense of purity there, the land is abundant and diverse. Probably most significantly of all is the unique convergence of land and sea and the intrinsic connection between the two and its inhabitants.

Hiking at Kynoch Inlet, being able to see Spirit bears at Gribbell Island, witnessing and photographing a breaching humpback whale, cruising the zodiac around Mussel Inlet and of course, time spent observing beautiful grizzlies…everything really, but most of all getting to know the Raincoast team, Brian Falconer, Captain Drew Grav-Graham, Alex Harris, Chef Anna Bichel, and Mark Williams. Their rich knowledge and passion for the mission truly inspired us!

Black bear and three cubs on the shore.
Photo by Lynn Sambol.
Two sea lions swimming.
Photo by Eric Sambol.

From your travels, what other innovative conservation initiatives have you seen? 

Most things boil down to economics. The successes we’ve seen and experienced took advantage of the growing popularity of ecotourism and wildlife photography. In effect, the subject species became more valuable alive than dead to the local community. This is what we witnessed in (1) Rwanda, where mountain gorillas poachers now work as guides with a portion of the trekking fee given back to the local community, (2) Brazil, where jaguars are now the subject of tourism, as opposed to a major threat to local cattle, or (3) in Patagonia, where ranchers now charge guides for their clients to photograph pumas.

Sea lion rookery on rocks.
Photo by Eric Sambol.
Dead fish in an estuary.
Photo by Lynn Sambol.

Our annual report is out now!

Get highlights from the year, our science, flagship projects, staff and volunteers, as well as a peek at what’s in store for the coming year.

Research scientist, Adam Warner conducting genetics research in our genetics lab.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.