Orca dorsal fin height

pair of killer whales
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The whale watching safaris from Grizzly Bear Lodge has a good chance of finding resident orca or killer whales.  The resident orca is the fish eaters while the transient orca are the male eaters and are less common in the summer.  This photo demonstrates the difference in size of the dorsal fins between a male and female orca. The males fin can be up to two meters (six feet) while the females are often less than half the height.

Grizzly Tour Lunchbreak

picnic lunch
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Picnic lunches are taken on all day tours.  Grizzly bear tours and whale watching trips normally leave the lodge at 8:00 am in the spring and summer and after August 24th at 7:30 am.  Whale watching picnic lunches are normally eaten in the boat while drifting with the humpback whales.  This most often occurs after a bathroom break in Telegraph Cove. The grizzly bear day’s lunches are eaten on the float tied up in the mouth of Glendale Bay.  Eating lunch in a skiff closer to the bears is not a good idea, as they might want to join the picnic, especially if smoked salmon is part of the lunch. The lunches are good with enough variety that even the guides do not become bored with the food and enough food that in my nine years with the lodge we have yet to eat all of a lunch. This photo is from late September as the guests are still wearing their coast against the chill of being on the water.

Grizzly Bear eating Sedge grass

spring grizzly
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In the spring quests on the tours from Grizzly Bear Lodge view the bears in the sedge grass.  Sedge grass stalks are spiky, wide and stiff but the sedge grass is up to 25% protein, and this is the reason why grizzly bears prefer eating it to other grasses.  The spring a grizzly bears diets consist of approximately 70% of sedge grass to replenish their lack of proteins during hibernation. Diets shift with the seasons, as summer approaches the berries start to replace the sedge grass and fall brings the salmon into the Glendale River.

Steller sea lion haul-out

sealions on rocks
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Steller sea lions use land habitat as haul-out sites for periods of rest, molting, and as rookeries for mating and pupping during the breeding season. In this case it is a resting area as they migrate along the coast spending part of their spring and fall in the area where we watch whales. Steller sea lions have been known to migrate large distances (>400 nm) but it is presumed their routes remain coastal. They are solitary hunters but are often seen small groups, but may gather in large “rafts” at the surface near rookeries and haul outs. The haul-pouts are a noisy area as they are capable of powerful vocalizations that are accompanied by a vertical head bobbing motion by males.

Rising Tide in Estuary

grizzlies wait for tide
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Spring grizzly bear tours from Grizzly Bear Lodge require a boat ride up Knight Inlet to the area of Glendale River. At low tide the bears come to the shore to roll the rocks in search of protein or to feed on the sedge grass along the shore. As the tide comes in we are able to move up the river estuary into the river channel and observe the bears on the mud flats. In this case it is a mother grizzly with a third year cub still tagging along. Cubs generally stay with their mother for two years, although they will stay for three or four if the sow does not become pregnant in the fall of their second year.

Orca listening to hydrophone

orca comong
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Although the weather does not look the best it was one of the most interesting experiences of my summer. It was a foggy morning and thus a challenge to find the orca but the whale watching companies work together and being the faster boat on the water we were able to find the orca first. As they came out of the fog we had a hydrophone in the water listening to their calls to help locate them.  Two orcas came very close to the boat and stayed on the surface as the calls came over the speaker. These two remained in position for several minutes and did not go back down until the calls stopped. Orcas are members of the dolphin family and at times their curiosity is amazing. Note: as normal the fog lifted by noon and we were able to enjoy an afternoon with humpback whales.

Grizzly Bear and bald eagle

grizzly and eagle
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Two of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest best fishers, a grizzly bear and a bald eagle.  This photo was taken in the mouth of Knight Inlet’s Glendale River an estuary, which becomes filled with salmon after mid-August.  Once the salmon have arrived the eagles that are normally found along the shore of the Inlet move to the river mouths, as fishing becomes much easier. Eagles are an opportunist feeder and the remains of salmon left by the grizzly bear provide the ideal opportunity for an eagle.

Months old grizzly cub

fist year grizzly cub
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Grizzly bear cubs are born in the den in January or February. Cubs weigh 500 grams (1 lb.) which is less one-tenth as much as human babies and are born blind. Once they have left the womb, the find their way to their mother’s teats where they feed on milk (and grow) until the spring. This photo from early June means the cub is likely less than five months old.  The male Grizzly bear’s hibernation ends in early to mid March, while females emerge in April or early May.  Although this cub may have been out of the den for little more than one month and is still nursing we observed it eating solid foods.

Grizzly mother with triplets

grizzlies on river
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This photo is either a mother Grizzly with triplets or the middle bear (cub) has a very long and twisted body.  Triplets are not uncommon in Grizzly Bear Lodge’s viewing area but they are allot more work for the mother grizzly at this time of the year.  That extra mouth to feed and one more cub to keep track of in an area with many other bears means less time to fish. On this day there were other mothers and cubs in the fishing pool and it took time for this family to join the group and feel comfortable enough to start fishing.

Grizzly Bear tours in river estuary

river skiff for tours
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The grizzly bear tours from the lodge require a one and a quarter hour boat ride up Knight Inlet to the Glendale River estuary.  In the spring and until August 24th viewing takes place along the shore and in the river estuary while after the 24th guests travel to the viewing stands further up the river. For both trips we tie up to a large float in the bay and transfer to an aluminum skiff to either go ashore for the ride up to the viewing stands or to view the grizzly bears along the shore or in the river. The skiff shown was made for the lodge to provide a safe and solid boat, which allows the guest to move about and take pictures. The spring tours will have a maximum of four guests in the boat leaving lots of room for camera equipment.  The shallow draft of the skiff makes it ideal for the guides, enabling them to pull it easily up the river as the tide rises. Yes waders are a required part of a guide’s “uniform”.