Donning snorkeling gear and weights, Louis-Marie Preau would lie motionless on the riverbed for 2 to 3 hours a night waiting for the perfect photo.
Suffice to say, photographers can be a bit obsessive. And wildly patient. Both of which are wonderfully, beautifully evident in this jaw-dropping photo of a Eurasian beaver fetching dinner in the Loire region of western France.
WIth the unfortunate fate of having both fur and castoreum the subject of great lust for trappers, Eurasian beavers were nearly hunted to extinction by the middle of the 19th century. In France, the species (Castor fiber) was almost completely extinguished, save for a small population of about 100 individuals in the lower Rhone valley. Conservation efforts brought them back from the brink; France now plays home to more than 14,000 of them. They play an important role in the river ecosystem in France's Loire Valley.
Having grown up in the region, photographer Louis-Marie Preau spent a lucky childhood exploring nature and observing wildlife. Including beavers, which he has been watching for more than a decade. He once saw an adult bringing home a branch underwater to its family – and he became dedicated to capturing the scene on film. It took him four years.
Every night, wearing snorkeling gear and weights, he would lie still as a log on the riverbed for hours. Finally, it paid off – and the fruits of his labor, as well as the conservationists who made it all possible in the first place, are now here for the rest of us to marvel at.
See more of Preau's wonderful photography here, and thank you to the California Academy of Sciences' bioGraphic Magazine for sharing this work with us. You can follow bioGraphic on Facebook and Twitter for more.