Grizzly Bears all seem to have their own fishing style. Often the larger, more mature bears are far more patient opting to let the calories come to them rather then run around burning calories in hopes of maybe catching a salmon. This bear sat for two hours picking off the occasional pink salmon as it swam by. Initially just due to the bears size we assumed it was a male. After a “better look”, however we discovered that this is in fact a very healthy female Grizzly.
No matter where we are going at Sailcone’s Grizzly Bear Lodge, the guides are always keeping their eyes open for wildlife. This could be a Black Bear on the way to view Grizzlies, an eagle family or in this case a group of Pacific White Sided Dolphins. These dolphins are common in our area and it is not unusual to spot them in large groups. They are incredibly intelligent and often come to us for a closer look.
Felix Rome (a photography student who helped us out this summer) took this photo of a pacific white sided dolphin. It is a very cool capture and quite unique. https://felixrome.smugmug.com/
We use speedboats to get from the lodge to the bear viewing area. They are fast and comfortable, but draw too much water to be effective for bear watching in the shallow estuary. For that reason we transfer over into a small flat bottomed skiff. Often the guide will use chest waders and just pull the boat along quietly in the shallow waters. This lets us get good views of the bears, without disturbing their routine.
Grizzly Bears are very comfortable in the water. When the salmon are running they spend a great deal of time in the river often swimming across it multiple times. They are also excellent long distance swimmers easily swimming across Knight Inlet, which is approximately 1 mile wide. Thanks to Britt for the picture
This young Grizzly Bear is standing in the river estuary likely looking for salmon. Tides play a huge roll in these shallow river estuaries. At high tide the water will be right up to the sedge grass in the background covering the area where the bear is standing. At this time the water is deeper and the salmon are able to pass through the lower river easily. When the tide is low the fish are much more exposed and bears will take advantage of this as they struggle up the shallow riffles.
In August and early September it is common to get some fog while whale watching in the early morning. Usually by eleven this marine layer burns off and we enjoy a sunny afternoon. It can make finding the whales a little more difficult in the early morning, but does make for some peaceful and dramatic scenes. It is amazing how far the sounds of the whale’s blow travels on a calm foggy morning.
Salmon are the lifeblood of our coastal ecosystem. Their journey back to their home rivers to spawn is often not an easy one. The salmon return to the same river which they were born years prior. How they know where they are going remains one of life’s great mysteries. The lucky few return, spawn and then all pacific salmon die after spawning, providing nutrients to the river and forest. This is a coho salmon leaping over the falls on the wild river trip.
The humpback whales come to our area for one reason and that is to feed. They feed heavily on krill and small fish such as herring. In this photo you can see that the humpback has done what is called a lunge feed. This is where they come straight up with their mouths open and try and consume as many fish as possible. The small fish you can see jumping are herring.
Thanks to Felix Rome for this great shot of the river at night. Felix stayed up there and helped Rick this summer while working on his photography for university. I think he has a pretty nice office.