Grizzly bears mate in the spring and their babies are born from January to March so it can live in its den for about four months during the coldest weather. The grizzly bear cubs of Knight Inlet first appear on the shore with their mothers in late May. This meas the cubs are three to four months old and will remain with their mothers or two or three years. Although still nursing this cub copies mother and will start on solid food.
Suddenly she stops and looks toward us. The problem is that she is less than 25 meters (yards) from where I am sitting on the bow of the skiff and I had stood up and started to move the skiff backward to give her more room to fish. Wrong move on my part. She froze looking at me so I sat down and she…
…they suddenly turned and ran directly toward us. As the picture shows they did manage to flick a salmon on to the bar and proceeded to fight over it’s possession. One of the two year old cubs came up winner so mother continues to fish…
I remember this day well. Prior to August 25 all grizzly bear watching is in the Glendale River estuary. It was a slow day with no bears and I was pulling the skiff up river in low water. If one waits for the water to rise with the tide it is much easier but then the water is too deep for the grizzlies to trying and catch the salmon as they try to move up over the shallow gravel bars. We had just reached an area below a gravel bar when these grizzlies appeared….
July and a mother grizzly bear and her cub of the year are on the beach working on a meal of mussels. The mother on scrapping them off a log while the cub was more into turning over rocks. The mother persisted on the log and was eventually join by her cub. Note: the mothers back upper leg has not regrown the fur that was rubbed off during hibernation.
Until the salmon arrive in the river in late August the grizzly bears of Knight Inlet find their food on the beach. This bear was scrapping mussels and barnacles from the rocks to obtain the protein necessary to keep it alive. These are eaten “in the shell” and with our motor turned off we can hear the crunching as well as the scrapping of claws. This look was “you are in my comfort zone” so we slowly backed off a few meters.
Once the salmon have arrived and after August 24th (per Government Regulations) we move up the Glendale River to the viewing platform to view grizzlies waiting for salmon. These two grizzlies (look carefully) were very good at catching salmon as one caught and moved off it eat its fish the other waited for a salmon to come within reach.
Grizzly bear cubs are born in the den in January or Febuary. The cubs will weigh approximately 500 grams ( 1 ½ pound) at birth, and arrive into the world blind, hairless, and toothless. The cubs will grow to weigh 3-4 kg (7-9 lbs.) prior to emerging from the den in spring. This photo was taken in early September so these first year cubs are six or seven months old. As you can see from the photo that this mother grizzly is still nursing. The milk from a grizzly is rich in fat, approximately 30% compared to a cow at 3% so these cubs will weight 27 – 45 kg. (60 to 100 pounds). Also the photo shows the difference in size in the three cubs the one being much larger. This is common and shows which of these cubs has a better chance of survival.
This grizzly bear had just spent some time rolling in the grass at the backside of the first viewing stand on Knight Inlet’s Glendale River. If you take time to look at January 1, 20014 post it shows a section of Google map showing the location of the viewing stand on the rivers spawning channel. This bear has just left from beneath the stand and is strolling down the finger of land that separates the natural river from the holding pool where the salmon wait before entering the spawning area. The grizzly bears in our viewing area have come to tolerate or presence and ignore the click of cameras. As long as there are no flashes or sudden loud noises all in fine. Tim O’Neil of Great Britain provided this photo.
Grizzly bear watching from late May until August 24th occurs along the shore of Knight Inlet and most often in Glendale Cove and on the River. We travel up the inlet to the cove and transfer to a 5.5 meter (18 ft.) flat bottom skiff we use to move along the shore and up the river with a rising tide. Grizzlies are on the shore turning over rocks for the crab, clams, barnacles, amphipods and other tiny invertebrates. In the river they graze on the sedge grass and dig up roots. In all of this time they are waiting for the salmon to arrive. On this day we have five grizzlies, one in the water looking for salmon, and four on the bank digging and grazing. The first half of the season tends to be eye level viewing whereas that changes in tomorrow’s post.
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.