Orca Tail Slapping

Tail slapping or lob tailing creates loud sounds above water and under water as well as providing a dramatic photo opportunity. It is said that orca may do this to relieve an itch, as their outer skin layer is continually sloughed as they swim. The growth of killer whale epidermal (skin) cells is about 290 times faster than that of a human forearm. Studies also suggest that killer whales are curious, with great tendency to “play” and to manipulate objects.  The killer whales in our viewing area, the Johnstone Strait, rub their bodies along the pebbly bottoms of shallow bays or “rubbing beaches” located in the Robson Bight. It is assumed they do it for tactile stimulation, or it may help remove external parasites and their outer skin. The reason is secondary the sight is s spectacular.

tail slapping killer whale
Click to enlarge then click again

Juvenile Grizzly Bears Fishing

 “Not all fishmen are created egual” this saying applies to grizzly bears as well as humans.  Some bears seem to spend much of their time running and splashing in the water without catching many fish.  But the key to their succes is the size of the bear.  Although the two grizzlies in the photo appear to be three year olds they also look pretty healthy for this time of the year so their fishing style must be working.

Juvenile Grizzlies Fishing



Grizzy Bear Migrating

Grizzly swimmingGrizzly just out of waterThe photos are not as clear as they could be but my excuse is that I was maneuvering the boat while taking photos one-handed.  The interesting aspect is the location. We were heading back to the lodge from a day’s successful whale watching to find this grizzly swimming between islands.  We were about eight miles from the lodge toward Vancouver Island.  It has become more common in the past five years to see and have reports of grizzly bears in the area of the lodge and closer to Vancouver Island.  As a result of the healthy population of grizzly bears in Knight Inlet the sub-adult bears are being forced out of the area and are starting to migrate down the Inlet and across Johnstone Strait to take up residence on Vancouver Island.  Grizzly bears have been sighted on the Island from Sayward to Port McNeil. To view a map of the areas mentioned scroll down the sidebar on the left to “Pages” then to “Google Map of Grizzly Bear Lodge Itinerary”.


Four month grizzly bear cub

Grizzly and cub

In late may the grizzly bears bring their cubs to the beach in Knight Inlet.  The first beach is one that is tucked in behind a small inland about two miles west of Glendale River where most of the grizzly bear watching occurs. This is a small quite area free from male bears and provides the new cubs some sanctuary. I remember this photo taken by fellow guide, Glen, because on the first viewing of this cub it ran into the grass behind the beach logs. The second time, a day later, it also ran but came back our and hide behind it’s mother. This picture is the third visit where it sat and watched or boats.  They learn from their mother and in all that time the mother grizzly ignored our presence.  Not hard to tell that this is an early spring bear with the long appearing legs because the belly has not the full look of the late fall bears.

Perfect Eagle Picture

perfect bald eagle
Click to enlarge

Thanks Glen to one of the lodge’s guides we have the perfect eagle picture. An eagle coming down to pickup the pinky orange rock cod floating in the water. When the eagles are about the lodge and we have rockfish we gather guests on the floating dock and throw out the fish and this should be the result.  The biggest problem is the one or two second delay on most digital cameras.  Solution have a SLR digital to listen to the guide when he says click do it because that is your two second warning or all you will get is a tail shot or a ripple on the water.

Humpback whale at lunch

Humpback WhaleHumpback whale close upOn whale watching tours from Grizzly Bear Lodge we spend the day in the area of Johnstone Straits.  These pictures were taken at Bold Head in Blackfish Sound about a fifteen-minute boat ride from Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island. I remember this day well as I normally take our guests to Bold Head and we tie up in the kelp bed to have our picnic lunch as it is a quite area frequented by humpback whales most of time several hundred meters (yards) away. However on this day in August one humpback came to visit us and played in the kelp. The first photo gives an idea of how close it came to the boat the second even closer.  No the second photo is not a blow up of the first because if you enlarge the second you will see a harbour seal’s head in the background.  Humpback whales often play in kelp beds and I believe the reason that this one came so close is because we were sitting quietly, motor shut off, and eating lunch. There were no other boats in the area and after the whale came close we were very quite in the boat and no one hit the side of the boat or made noise moving about as these noises are easily transferred through the water.  We had more than a thirty-minute visit.


Grizzly coming to investigate

Classic Grizzly PoseGrizzly bear viewing from the lodge on Minstrel Island requires run up Knight Inlet to the Glendale River estuary.  Once we arrive we transfer to sixteen-foot flat bottom skiff which allows us to travel in very shallow water. Being able to move in shallow water means that your guide can leave the skiff and manoeuvre the boat by walking along side. This permits us to move up the river at a low tide where as using a motor we would need to wait longer and the bears would have left the estuary. As I recall this picture is an example were a grizzly came to investigate and we slowly backed down river until curiosity was satisfied. No we were not in danger as any loud noise such as banging an oar on the metal boat and the bear would have left immediately.  The bears we view have come to accept our presence and do not show aggression only curiosity.



Spring Grizzly Bears Mating

Female GrizzlyMale grizzlyGrizzly bear’s mating time is late May through June in the Glendale River area of Knight Inlet. It is also the same time that the mother grizzlies are bringing their new cubs to the estuary area for the first time.  This is potential a dangerous mix as males have been known to kill cubs as it is believed that the females will come into season. The courtship we watched unfold seemed to involve an uninterested female who was trying to avoid the male. The male was following her along the beach until she took to the water and eventually swam past the bow of our boat.  The male was undeterred and wadded along the shore to keep pace with the female. This continued up the delta grassland of the estuary until they disappeared in to the surrounding forest.


The Four Austrians 11 of 11

Trapper Rick's fishingGuest showing salmonAfter catching the pink salmon in the river at Trapper Rick’s it is a short journey to thinking of a fishing trip to the lodge and catching the larger Chinook salmon.  Grizzly Bear Lodge has a partner website under “Sailcone Wilderness Fishing Lodge” for guests interested in a few days fishing or guest who salmon fish while their spouses enjoy the wildlife viewing. In this case a guide had a day off and went salmon fishing and his catch became a photo opportunity for the guests.

The Four Austrians 10 of 11

Trapper Rick's cabinrick's fishingGuests electing to stay an extra day in the lodge cross-Knight Inlet Inlet and pass through Thompson Sound to the Kakweikan River located in the coast range of BC mountains and spend a day with Trapper Rick. If you take time to scroll down the side bar on the left and go to “Pages” and then “Google Map of Grizzly Bear Lodge Itinerary” it will show the remoteness of this river valley.  Rick’s cabin is an “A” frame left by the Department of Fishers when they built a salmon ladder on the river. Beside the natural beauty of the area, Rick’s many stories of trapping in the valley; the chance of seeing a grizzly bear there is always the fishing. Many guest say they have no interest in fishing until they have a rod in their hand and a quick lesson on how to “spin cast” and then “fish on” and they are hooked on fishing. The next challenge the guide has is to get back to the lodge before dark.