Following from yesterday’s post and the use of a small camera to get a photo this is from the same camera. The evening of this photo, back at the lodge, guests were showing their pictures of this eagle and they were amazing. The photo was taken on the Glendale River as the guide was walking the boat up the river on an incoming tide. Yes guides wear waders and as the water in the river is not deep enough to use a motor we pull the boat up river to obtain the best opportunities for photos of wildlife which at times means close ups of eagles as well as grizzlies.
Every tour is a black bear tour. The first evening in the lodge there is a tour to familiarize guests with the boats and guides and to look for wildlife in particular black bears. But every trip leaving the lodge to look for grizzly bears, orcas, humpback whales or to the wild river on the extra day in camp we look along the shore for feeding black bears. If you have a decent camera you will get some good photos. The above photo gives you some perspective of how close we approach a feeding bear showing the boat top over the windshield in the lower corner. The camera a small ten times optic zoom Pentax with no zoom used.
This past summer more of the humpback whales viewed were doing a vertical lunge. The whale would come up slowly with its mouth wide open and often remain as shown in this photo and slowly rotate in a circle for up to a minute. It would then slowly close its mouth, hopefully full of herring, and sink below the surface. It must have worked because it was viewed often over the summer.
Lunge feeding humpback whales are common on the whale watching trips that leave Grizzly Bear Lodge most days. This sideways lunge will on occasion catch more that herring. After the lunge the whale sinks and forces the water out through the baleen leaving the herring trapped and to be swallowed. Sometime a duck or seagull will exploded several a meter (yard) or two out of the water in to the air having escaped becoming whale food. Those that escape seem to be little worse for wear and continue to feed.
This appears to be an awkward pose, with one paw out straight, for a grizzly bear eating a salmon. This is one of the few bears that we have seen over the years that were injured in a fight. The front paw could not bare weight but this bear became an excellent fisher and was able to catch salmon and fatten for the winters denning. When last viewed in October this grizzly appeared to have put on enough fat to survive hibernation but next year will tell the story if it is back at the river.
By late May grizzly bears and cubs are starting to appear on the beaches to turnover rocks. The inter-tidal zone “food” is high in protein and contains crab, clams, barnacles, amphipods and other tiny invertebrates. The “beach food” is important because plant food is relatively scarce during spring as berries do not become part of the diet until July and bears will continue to loose weight until well into June. The cubs rely on mother’s milk that is better than 30% fat. Mother bears tend to be affectionate, protective, devoted, strict, sensitive and attentive toward their cubs, raising them to an age where they can survive on their own. In return the cubs at this age do not stray far from their mother’s side.
This was a close encounter with a mother grizzly and two cubs on Knight Inlet’s Glendale River. Going up river in our skiff with four guests we met the bears coming down. I pulled the skiff to opposite side of the river to allow them to pass about fifteen meters (yards) away. No we were not in danger, as this seemed to be this family’s routine over a two-week period and they had become accustomed to the ritual. As can be seen toward the end of summer and into fall, bears sometimes shed a type of tapeworm, commonly called the broad fish tapeworm. As this photo shows it can sometimes be seen trailing behind them. Grizzly bears can become infected by the tapeworm from eating raw salmon. The physical effect of bears harbouring tapeworm parasites is insignificant to the bear’s health. This will slightly stress the bear, but generally it is not advantageous for the parasite to kill the host, since that would also result in the death of the parasite. This was the only bear I saw with a tapeworm last summer.
The post from yesterday with the seine boat netting salmon is in direct competition with today’s killer whales fishing. I have found over the years that during the commercial fishing season, which is not much, more that two weeks the orca stay away from the areas containing the fishing boats. Fortunately the commercial fishing area is a small portion of the viewing area for orca and humpback whales. In a way it is helpful in that it eliminates some area from our search grid and helps to locate the humpbacks and killer whales a little faster.
Not all of the time on the whale watching safari trips is necessarily spent watching wildlife. Once the wildlife viewing is satisfied there are often other interesting activities occurring. On this day it was a commercial seine fishing boat. They had set their nets and after about an hour they are required to pull them in and empty their catch before resetting. Once the net is close to the boat they use a bailing net to remove the salmon and on this day they emptied about eight bail nets full. A reasonable catch for a few hours work.
This is a grizzly bear destined to have a good hibernation. However according to the Natural History Museum grizzlies that live in climates with cold winters when food sources are limited spend the winter in a dormant or sleeping state. This “sleeping period” is often referred to as “hibernation”, but it differs from true hibernation in several ways: – In true hibernation, an animal’s body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing and if disturbed it takes a couple of hours to wake up – Although a sleeping Grizzly Bear’s body temperature is lower than normal, it is not as low as true hibernators and its respiration rate is only slightly below normal. During winter sleep, bears are alert and easily aroused.
From Wikipedia: “Flaying, also known colloquially as skinning, is the removal of skin from the body. Generally, an attempt is made to keep the removed portion of skin intact.” This grizzly is doing an excellent job of flaying the salmon but I do not think that keeping the skin intact is important. The skin is often the first part of the salmon eaten not because it needs to be removed to get to the flesh but because of the layer of fat located directly beneath the skin. If the bears are selective in their eating because of the abundance of salmon or they are becoming full they will eat the skin, the brain and the roe (eggs) and leave the remainder of the salmon for the seagulls, bald eagles or other scavengers.