Over the past five years humpback whales have become summer residents in the area we travel to look for killer whales (orca). The area of Johnstone Strait especially around Bold Head in Blackfish sound has become the summer home of humpback whales and their calves. It is common to view between eight and twelve whales on each trip from the lodge. The whale watching safari’s normally see orca, humpback whales, minke whales, sea lions, harbour seals, dolphins, harbour porpoise, dall’s porpoise, eagles and the occasional black bear.
Your first evening at Grizzly Bear Lodge involves an evening boat run in the local waters looking for black bears. At low tides the bears come to the beach to roll rocks for protein in the form of small crab, clams, barnacles, amphipods and other tiny invertebrates. Guest often ask how do the bears know when there will be a low tide? When we travel along the shore by boat it is possible to pick up the smell of the beach and it is said that bears are thought to have the best sense of smell of any animal on earth. For example, the average dog’s sense of smell is 100 times better than humans. A bloodhound’s is 300 times better. A bear’s sense of smell is 7 times better than a bloodhound’s or 2,100 times better than a human. Simply stated they smell low tide and food.
A great action photo of one grizzly asserting its fishing rights. Almost looks like a lecture but I think it has gone a little beyond a discussion. The disagreements on the Glendale River, which is Grizzly Bear Lodge’s viewing area, tend to be settled with a few roars and mock charges and then all is well and life continues. The compatibility of the bears is due to the common reason for being on the river; that is food in the form of salmon to provide the fat to survive the winter. In the end survival always wins.
Whether on a whale watching safari to Johnstone Strait, grizzly bear trip up Knight Inlet or on the way to Trapper Rick’s on the Kakweikan River there is a chance to play with dolphins. Dolphins are spending their summers in our viewing area and at time in pods of several hundreds. They tend to be very active and to not shy away from boats in fact if you want to be left alone it is necessary to stop the boat and wait until they pass on to another area.
A well-fed family. This photo of a mother grizzly bear and two-year-old cubs was taken in October near the end of the salmon run in Knight Inlets’ Glendale River. These grizzly have had all season to put on their winter layer of fat to make sure they would be able to survive hibernation. The spring tours from the lodge would find these bears on the beach turning over rocks for protein as well as eating sedge grass. In the summer they still appear on the beach at low tides but substitute berries for the sedge grass. And of course in by late August they are on the river enjoying the abundance of pink salmon returning to spawn in the Glendale River. The tour schedule from Grizzly Bear Lodge follows the bears as they change their feeding habits viewing first from the water in the estuary to the viewing stands at the spawning channel.
If you stay the extra day at Grizzly Bear Lodge you visit The Trapper on the Kakweikan River at the head of Thompson Sound. Rick has lived and trapped in the area over the past twenty years and has a passion for the area and the grizzlies of “his” river valley. Few people outside of our guest visit the area as it is not open to public fishing therefore access to the area is limited. The first photo is the view from front deck of Rick’s cabin where it is not uncommon to see grizzly feeding below the falls. The second is the approach to the cabin through a trail covered by a canopy of alder trees. The main concern of walking the trail is to avoid stepping in the bear scat.
This is a photo from early October. The salmon the bear has are not the silver of fresh august salmon more than likely they have been picked off the bottom of one of the deeper pools at the entrance to the salmon spawning area. In this case the bear has two, the one being eaten and a stand by in its arms. No need to waste time when the main goal is to put on that last few pounds of fat before all the salmon are flushed out of the river by the fall rains and hibernation is approaching.