It is common to see sub-adult grizzly siblings together on the Grizzly Bear Lodge’s bear tours. Depending on food abundance, mother grizzlies may keep their yearlings a second (even a third) year, denning together again and breaking up in the third (or fourth) year. Alone and vulnerable, siblings will often stay together for some time after their mother abandons them, eating and sleeping side-by-side, and even denning together. The average breeding age for female grizzlies is 4.5 years. Males reach sexual maturity at roughly the same age as their female counterparts. Even though males are capable of breeding at three or four years of age, they rarely have the opportunity to do so because of intense competition from older, bigger males. These two bears spent most of the summer in the area of the Glendale River.
This photo was taken two weeks after the posting on October 28th and these two cubs are still fighting. We observed these three bears throughout the summer on our grizzly bear watching days on the Glendale River and the family feud was part of their daily activity. This photo was taken from above from the viewing stands, which we use after August 24th, while the photo posted on the 28th was from a boat on the lower river. The location is not important the entertainment value of these bears make the guests stay more enjoyable.
One method of feeding we often see with humpback whales is “Lunge Feeding”. The whale will lunge through a shoal of prey with mouth gaping open often exploding at the surface with both food and water. In this case the photo shows the top of the humpback’s head with its lower jaw hanging open. Humpback whales do not feed in the warmer climates of Hawaii and Mexico where they spend the winter so it makes sense that once they arrive in their feeding grounds, this will occupy most of their time. Humpback whales in our area will feed small, shoaling fish such as herring. They may eat up to 1,400 kg (3,000 lbs.) of food a day.
Grizzly bear cubs are still a challenge even when they are two years old. In this case mother is in the background while the cubs play fight in the foreground. It is not always a spectator sport as allot of the time the mother grizzly is in the middle of the fight with the cubs, that is how they learn. Some days in the spring on the river it seems that the bears spend more time fighting than searching for and eating food.
A mother grizzly is never far away from her cubs as the leg in the top left corner of this picture shows. Triplets are always a challenge and these first year cubs spent this summer keeping their mother on the run. But whenever there was another bear in the area the cubs immediately returned to mom to make sure all is ok. Grizzlies with cubs are common in the viewing area used by Grizzly Bear Lodge. We are more likely to see mother grizzlies with twins, triplets and this year quadruplets than we are a bear with one cub.
As with most wildlife viewing the best approach is often to sit and wait. On this particular whale watching tour from Grizzly Bear Lodge we arrived at the area of Johnstone Strait to start looking for orca and immediately located a pod of orca traveling along the shore. We stopped our boat, got out the cameras and let the orca come to us. As a guide for the lodge this is the best way to start a days trip and after some time with the orca we went on to watch stellar sealions, humpback whales lunge feeding, harbour seals, eagles and a few dall’s porpoise. All in all a full day.
Spring and early summer grizzly bear tours from Grizzly Bear Lodge take place in Knight Inlet’s Glendale River estuary. This is a one hour and fifteen minute boat ride and then a transfer to a large skiff, which allows us to go into the shallow river to view the grizzlies. It is like a scene from the old movie “African Queen” with your guide in waders pulling the skiff up the river and often finding a grizzly walking along the river. If the river is wide we pull to one side to allow the bear to pass if it is narrow we back down the river either way there is opportunity for great photos.
While on a whale watching tour from Grizzly Bear Lodge we came upon a humpback whale tail lobbing or lobtailing. Lobtailing is the act of a whale lifting its fluke (tail) out of the water and then bringing it down onto the surface of the water hard and fast in order to make a loud slap. In this picture it is an upside down lobbing where the top of the tail is hitting the surface so the whale is on its back. If you compare photos this is the same humpback from the Oct 18th posting. In this case a guest counted 38 consecutive slaps that is a lot of energy expelled and no one is sure why.
This is what a guide calls “Job security”. When guest see this they are glad they are with a guide. To be fair this was a foggy morning and it is possible to pass close to this island just not on the side chosen by this driver. To give you confidence the guides at Grizzly Bear Lodge have each been working in the area for more than fifteen years.
As soon grizzly cubs sense any kind of danger they run to mother for protection. In the spring cubs are appear along the shore of Knight Inlet in late May and we are able to watch their growth through to October prior to the closing of Grizzly Bear Lodge in mid-month. This photo was taken in September from the viewing stands as the mother grizzly watched a second mother with two-year-old cub’s approach the salmon fishing area. All ended well and they all continued to catch and eat fish.
Once you have read the description below the map can be enlarged by clicking once on the photo and then once again and the photo should take the full screen.
The above photo is a selection taken from Google Earth that shows the Glendale River estuary in the upper left corner of the map. The river estuary is about 42 kilometers (26 miles) an hour and fifteen-minute boat ride from Grizzly Bear Lodge. Upon arriving at the river mouth the boat is tied to a float which is indicated by the yellow dots in the extreme upper left corner. Once at the float a flat bottom skiff is used to get to shore and the truck, which is used to drive to the spawning channel. The road runs along the estuary and the river past the base of the hills in the lower left section of the map and then curves to the green dot, which is a bridge over the Glendale River.
The zig zag line of trees are along the edge of the man made spawning channel. The road pass beside the top (right) edge of the last finger of the spawning area and then across and past the curves of the rest of the channels to the first red dot which is the first viewing stand. The second red dot is the stand normally used by Grizzly Bear Lodge. The area between the two red dots is a finger of land with the natural river on the right side and around the end of the finger to the holding pool on the left (top) side. The salmon holding pool is a result of an aluminum weir or small dam at the entrance to the spawning channel. This may be raised or lowered depending on how many salmon have entered the channel. The second stand is the preferred viewing area as there is an unobstructed view of the river and the holding pool and photos due not need to show the aluminum weir in the background.
If you go to “Pages” on the left and select “Gogle Map of Lodge Itinerary” and click the blue icon on the right it will be “Day 3” and be the location of the map shown above.