This sub-adult grizzly bear was coming down river as we were moving up with the tide. It was not a bear we normally saw in the area but familiar enough with the boats that it did not run into the forest. As you can see it had been in the water but moved to the shore as we approached. The shore being about 20 meters (yards) away, which shows again that it was not afraid. We bears we see on our tours have accepted our presence, which is another way of saying if we do not see them they must be strangers and they stay off the river.
The last 3 years we have been starting to view sea otters in our area more regularly. They are still often a distance away, but the sightings are increasing with some “rafts” of them developing in areas near the western portion of our whale watching trips. These animals were hunted heavily for their fur and were completely wiped out of British Columbia waters. Re-introduction occurred from Alaskan otters in the 1960’s. They have long been protected and their numbers have been steadily increasing along the exposed BC coast and are now moving back into inside waters. They are unique in that they don’t have the insulating blubber that other marine mammals use to keep warm. As a result they have dense (over 1 million hairs per square inch) fur and feed heavily. They are important in balancing the eco-system. They eat a lot of sea urchins, which eat a lot of kelp. Kelp is extremely important as it provides cover for juvenile fish and is where the herring spawn in the early spring. With the increase in these otters we are seeing a greater abundance and healthier kelp forests.