“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.
The 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”.
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.
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.
On 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 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.
Grizzly 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.