Sounds from Alaska: Seaside Wolf

Photo courtesy of Richard Nelson.

Breakfast on the beach at 3:30 a.m. High gray clouds, calm silver sea. My recording partner, Richard Nelson, and I stashed the electronics in the kayaks and were on the water by 4 a.m. We wished each other good luck and paddled in separate directions to chase the morning’s sounds. I drifted through a group of harbor seals, recording a few gruff growls, marbled murrelets whistling in the background.

On shore, I set up the mics along a little stream, the songs from a grey-cheeked thrush and a yellow warbler mixing with the bubbling pop of the creek. On the paddle back to camp, a porpoise rolled past my bow, the sharp quick puff of breath loud in the headphones.

It was a great morning of recording by any measure—but nothing like the sounds that had filled Nels’s ears. Over second breakfast, a mid-morning breeze tickling the sea, Nels tells the story of a wolf right there in the beach grass, unconcerned with his nearby kayak. The wolf glanced casually at the boat, turned around once, lay down, lifted its snout to the sky and cut loose. That close to a howling wolf, it takes great concentration to keep your excitement from rattling the hand-held microphone. But Nels pulled it off. Here’s a piece of that magical morning.

Thanks to the wolf (and Nels) for sharing. Check out more of Nels’s recordings here.

Hank Lentfer, author of Faith of Cranes, is ear-deep in a new career recording the whistles, clicks, groans, and splashes of his wild neighbors.


  1. Wonderful sounds!! Thanks so much for sharing this!! Deeply appreciated.

  2. beautiful! as an aside,when i played this clip a few minutes ago my 12 lb dog lept up from the bed upstairs, ran to the stairs, and began barking furiously!

  3. My Scottish Deerhound snapped out of his nap and also looked at me

  4. Beautiful . . . and haunting. Thanks for posting! There are now hiking trails in the wilderness preserve behind us; now we rarely hear what used to be a common occurrence — the coyotes. I miss those wild sounds!

  5. THANK YOU for sharing–this was amazing! 🙂

  6. *melt* Can’t thank you enough! I left my heart in the wilds of Alaska years ago and the wolf is one of my totems. (The other is the polar bear and I’d love to hear THAT sound in the wild one day!)

  7. My Bassett hound, who does a good job of howling herself, picked her head up from sleep and looked all around when she heard this eerie sound. Thanks.

  8. The Sea Wolf’s call is so breathtakingly beautiful. When I turned around, my cats were crouched, tails looked like bottle brushes, and their ears were flickering back and forth trying to see where the wolf was. Thank you, for this moment…Tari

  9. This made my MacBook vibrate, it was so resonant. I have heard many wolf calls, but this one is particularly special. so rich and full and soulful. the sound quality is amazing as is the musicality. would love to hear more of this talented wolf from this wonderful person’s recordings. heart piercing.

  10. and personallly, i am not wild about many recordings of nature sounds put to music. i think this is so much more effective and affecting, more pure, than recordings such of that as paul winter.

  11. If you want to read about wolves and why they howl, the best book I have read is Among Wolves by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman, available at her website. What a great recording! Thank you!

  12. Beautiful sound! Precious! Seems so lonely and melancholy. Certainly pulls at the heartstrings. Thank you for these wonderful recordings. I’m going to have to be in the Texas area for winter and this will give me something to hear when I’m homesick for my Williwaws wilderness. These are the sounds I hear all the time. (Except no wolves anymore.)

  13. unbelievably moving. especially the last sweet notes. how lucky to have been there at that moment. wish i could hear more.

  14. I’m just reading ‘Lone Wolf’ by Jodi Piccoult, and this sound was amazingly emotional. Thanks for sharing your wilderness experiences.

  15. Thank you for sharing this amazing wolf call!

  16. Truly magniscent!! Thank you so much for sharing the howl from one of nature’s very best!!!

  17. Incredibly moving. And brought my dog over to my laptop, head cocked, eyes focused, nose pointing at screen. And my cat, tensed, focused, listening. A primal sound buried in all our genetic blueprints. A sound to make us aware, alert, to bring us back to life from our camp fire drowsing, the state of negligence and inattention that we, domestic creatures all, are so often in.

  18. The sonority of the howl magnificent. A call from the Wild–music at its finest. Thank You.

  19. This is such a beautiful song. I find myself returning to it daily to give a listen!

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