Bald Eagle Bathing

Eagle Bathing

This is the case of “I know it must happen but I had never seen it.”. A bald eagle is a bird and birds need to take a bath. This was the day that the guests had to wait for the guide to watch something that he had never seen but once I had explained how rare this was there was more interest on their part. I have been on this river in the summer for more than twenty summers first as a fishing guide and now wildlife viewing so to say that this is rare is an understatement.



Four Grizzly Bears?

How many grizzlies

If my memory serves me there are four grizzlies in this photo.  They are Bella and her two cubs plus another sub-adult. Actually there were two sub-adult siblings that came to the Glendale River estuary and they played with Bella’s cubs. We (the guides) were not able to identify the siblings but thought they must be related to Bella or she would not have been so friendly or allowed them to play. In the spring (June and July) there are a number of bears that make the river estuary their home plus bears that are travelling through and may stay for a few days or weeks.



Humpback Whale Fluking

Humpback Whale Tail






Humpback Whale Tail 2

Humpback Whale Tail 2

Humpback Whale Tail 4

Not much to say except that Angus (guide and owner) got a great sequence of photos. Even thought there are many whales in our viewing area it is still hard to be in the right place at the right time and get a good photo especially when you are the one operating the boat and that is a full time job.



Who Eats This Salmon

Grizzly cubs salmon over fight

The mother caught the salmon now the fight is to determine the eater. This family was just below the viewing platform we use after August 24th. The water is about one meter (three ft.) deep which is ok for the mother but once the cub has the salmon it is necessary to get to shore to eat. So the family fight is to retain the salmon and to make it to the nearest shore about five meters (yards) away. The good news is that there is an abundance of salmon so everyone will get their fill.



Estuary Grizzly Bears

River Grizzly Bears

Prior to August 25th grizzly bear watching from our lodge occurs in the Glendale River bay and estuary. We travel one hour and fifteen minutes by boat up Knight Inlet to the river. At the river we transfer to a 5.5 meter (yard) flat bottom skiff. The shallow draft of the skiff allows us the move closely along the shore and to go up the river as the tide rises. The grizzlies have accepted our presence allowing us to get close enough for good photos. No this photo was not taken with a “large” zoom lens rather my small Pentax Optio 6 mp 3X Optical Zoom point-and-shoot camera which is waterproof. The waterproof is important because I am in the water pulling the boat up the river. The conclusion to make is that we were close to these grizzly bears.



Killer Whales Dorsal Fin – Collapsed

Killer whale

A wild orca often travels far, and quickly, in deep water. The water provides pressure to the fin, keeping the tissues inside healthy and straight, and encouraging the dorsal fin to remain straight. However, it is not impossible for a wild orca’s dorsal fin to collapse or become bent. A study in 1998 of killer whales in New Zealand showed a relatively high rate (23%) of collapsing, collapsed, or even bent or wavy dorsal fins, and noted that this was higher than that observed in populations in British Columbia or Norway. It has been found from a well-studied group of wild killer whales (the ones in our viewing area) off the coast of British Columbia that the total rate of dorsal fin collapse is around 1%.  This is only the second collapsed fin I have seen in ten years.  Researchers have theorized that dorsal fin collapse in wild whales may be due to age, stress or altercations with other killer whales.



Killer Whale Dorsal Fin

orca reflection

A male killer whale’s dorsal fin can grow to as much as 6 feet tall. Despite the fact that the dorsal fin is very straight, it is not supported by bone, but a fibrous connective tissue called collagen. This male is a member of the “A” Clan. The northern resident population numbers approximately 250 whales made up of three clans – A, G, R Clan. Resident (fish eaters) killer whale pods are MATRIARCHAL, meaning that sons and daughters stay with their mother throughout their lives, even after they have offspring of their own. The bonds between siblings usually remain strong even after the mother has died. A matriarch and all of her descendents are referred to as a MATRILINE. A POD is a larger unit that is made up of one or more matrilines that travel together at least half the time and that probably stem from a deceased matriarch. A CLAN is a group of pods that share similar calls or dialects.



Humpback Whales Lunge Feed

Humpback whale

This is one of the reasons for our day of whale watching from Grizzly Bear Lodge. The numbers of humpback whales that are in our viewing area has increased dramatically over the past five years from four or five a trip to twelve to sixteen. The whales are frequently seen lunge feeding, tail-lobbing and breaching. The picnic lunch break while whale watching is normally the best time for photos because we stop the boat in an area of active whales and drift. The only problem guest have is to decide to eat or take pictures and on most days the realize that it is best to eat because the whales will be there when they finish.



Just One More

one more salmon

This past summer there was an abundance of salmon and as the previous post suggests many were allowed to drift down stream to the less fortunate. The other factor in salmon selection by the grizzlies is that they will often discard the male salmon (no eggs) but they still have other fatty parts. Several of the bears around the viewing stands did not waste energy chasing salmon rather they sat on the shore and eat those drifting by or in this case piling up on the bank. In this photo the mother had eaten her full and was heading for a rest while her two-year-old want another.



Grizzly Bear Eating Style

Grizzly eating salmon

The view from our platform on Knight Inlet’s Glendale River overlooks the entrance to the man made spawning channel.  After August 24th this is the centre for the grizzly bear watching tours. This grizzly eating the salmon headfirst may seem strange. But when salmon is very abundant the skilled grizzly bears that catch lots of salmon will start only eating the fattiest parts of the fish – the brains, eyes, skin and eggs. They then drop the discarded salmon into the water where it is swept downstream to be eaten by smaller or less experienced bears, gulls, ravens, crows, eagles and other scavenging animals. See tomorrow’s post.