This photo taken on August 27th shows a grizzly and her first year cub on the walkway between the two viewing stands. Just passing beneath our viewing stand and walking down the road. This bear is still pretty lean without the fat “belly” she will need prior to denning for the winter. The salmon have just arrived in the river and over the next two months her cub and her will need to add enough fat from gorging on salmon to survive the winter.
This is a great pose of a mature bald eagle with a solid white head without any dark feathers and the bright yellow in beak and claws. As common as eagles are on the whales watching and grizzly bear tours it is still difficult to obtain a good picture. The important part is the dark background so that the eagle does not blend with the sky. At times it is hard to find and eagle sitting low enough in the trees to achieve the necessary background.
Mid July on a grizzly bear tour up Knight Inlet to the Glendale River estuary and a family of grizzly bears grazing on the breach. A family with first year triplets. One to the left of the large rock, one on the rock and one just behind the right edge of the rock. Sorry the best I could do while maneuvering the boat so we would not get to close and scare them into the high sedge grass. Twins are common in the area; triplets’ not that unusual and this past summer there was even as set of quadruplets a first for the lodge viewing records. On this day the guests got some great pictures much better than mine but that is the most important part of being a guide to ensure the guest photos a better than the guides.
The extra day at Grizzly Bear Lodge is spent on the Kakweikan River with Trapper Rick. The first picture shows Trapper with two guests who appear to be taking pictures of the falls. Twenty minutes earlier there were grizzly bears where they are now standing and they were the subjects of the photos. Now they are trying to capture a photo of the salmon leaping over the falls. With the large lens they are using such a photo takes time and a certain amount of luck but most guests manage a reasonable shot. To the left of Rick is the entrance to the salmon ladder that bypasses the falls. If you walk back up the ladder about thirty meters (yards) one is able to see the fish in the ladder as in the second photo. Not as dramatic as jumping but guaranteed.
Steller sealions have become common on whale watching tours. With the abundance of herring in the area of the day trips the sealions have started to stay all summer rather than just in the spring and fall on their coastal migration. Several dozen of these large males frequent the small island in Weynton Pass across from Vancouver Island’s Telegraph Cove.
Today’s posting is the opposite of yesterdays. We were still going up the river but these grizzly bears were coming down river. It was a high tide and we were about as far up the river as we were able to go in the skiff. We were hugging one side of the river when the mother and cub came around the corner and passed on the other bank about fifteen meters (yards) away. Over a period of several weeks last summer we viewed mother grizzlies and their cubs on a daily basis as we all moved up and down the river with the tide.
The Glendale River, which flows into Knight Inlet, is a tidal river located about an hour and fifteen-minute boat ride from the lodge. As tide rise we can go up river in a shallow draft eighteen-foot skiff and follow the bears. On this day a mother and cubs were slowly grazing in the sedge grass along the riverbank as they made their way up river. The orange arm in the photo belongs to a guest and provides some perspective of the closeness of the bears. We followed this family for about thirty minutes before they wandered into the forest.
The grizzly bear tours from the lodge after August 24th as permitted up the Glendale River to watch the grizzlies catch and eat the spawning salmon. In this case the two year old cubs wants a share of mother’s salmon but mother thinks that at this age it should be catching it’s own food. Grizzly cubs have been known to stay with their mother three or four years if she does not become pregnant but they could also be denning on their own after the second summer.
The black bears we view along the beach whether on a grizzly bear or a whale watching tour or most often on a beach with rocks that can be turned over in search of food. But they also like the larger boulders because of the number of barnacles and black mussels. They will scrap the barnacles loose with and eat them shell and all. The same goes for the mussels. This is a good source of protein for the black bears. They do not have access to the salmon rivers in this area because the grizzly bears control the rivers.
This was the first time I saw this site on a whale watching tour from the lodge. As the pictures show it was a foggy morning and we were in Blackney Passage off Cracroft Point about fifty minutes from the lodge. The other larger boat was also whale watching from Telegraph Cove with a few guests on board. This morning only twenty or so guests were aboard when they often have between forty and fifty. In the first photo there are a number of pacific whitesided dolphins playing and on the right side the large back of a humpback whale. In the second photo you can clearly see a mother and calf being harassed by the dolphins. This harassment continued for about fifteen minutes until the humpback took a long dive and disappeared. It is common to view Steller sealions playing with the humpback whales but a first for the dolphins.
Killer whales live in tight-knit families or pods, which are matriarchal family groups. Animals born into a pod stay in the pod their entire lives. Each matriline often contains three or more generations. The head female or matriarch leads the pod, as orcas are a female dominated species. The matriarch tends to be the oldest female in the extended family. Her experience and knowledge guides the pod, and the matriarch teaches younger dolphins about everything from parenting skills, feeding tactics, and navigation through the vast territories that they cover.
Orcas have long life expectancies, 60 to 80 years for females and 40-60 years for the males. Females have the ability to reproduce as early as 14 years of age, but it is more common to see a female first calf at around 17 to 18 years old. Males reach sexual maturity between the ages of 17 and 20, but DNA research has revealed that older males are more successful. An orca gestation period averages 16 to 18 months.