Bears, and grizzlies in particular, have always fascinated me. From the playful cubs, which under the guidance of their mother explore their surroundings, to the adults, which try to make a living in a wild and sometimes hostile environment. Then there are the young adults with their carefree nature, which sometimes let the observer chuckle with their antics. So I was quite ready for another grizzly adventure.
My chosen location to start another adventure was once again Telegraph Cove, a small community just south of Port McNeil on Vancouver Island. I had used the same tour operator on previous occasions and I was never disappointed. This time around was no exception. This was the latest in the season I had been there and my hopes were that I could finally see the bears to catch some salmon. But more about this later.
The forecast was for rain all day long as we set out on our journey but the weather held. For now there were only clouds, which I thought was perfect. Our first stop was a colony of stellar sea lions. I had been there the previous year and the number of sea lions seemed rather small in comparison. I asked myself whether it was the lack of salmon or some other reason for their small number.
After a few minutes at that location and started sailing toward the rising sun, which provided an opportunity for some nice shots. Along the way we encountered a pod of orcas. we observed them for a while before continuing on our way. We spotted a black bear swimming in the water close to the shore. He had come from one of the other islands and was perhaps looking for some greener pastures. We watched him until he climbed up onto the shore and disappeared into the dense forest.
A short distance away we spotted two grizzlies sleeping on the shoreline. It was a mother and her cub. Eventually the mother got up and disappeared into the forest with the cub eventually following suit. As we continued on our way the clouds parted and gave us some sunshine, at least for a short while. A flock of cormorants followed us for a short while before heading into a different direction entirely and after an uneventful journey we reached our final destination, Glendale Cove. There we transitioned onto some flat bottom skiffs so we could navigate the shallow waters of the estuary. There we spotted one individual grizzly, which was on its way along the shoreline undeterred by our presence. Further on we spotted several more bears but instead of feeding on salmon they were digging up roots. So far the salmon had not come!
As we returned to the dock for some lunch the heavens opened finally up and gave us all a good soaking. We headed back to observe the bears some more after lunch.. It broke my heart as I watched these magnificent creatures dug up roots in order to survive. Don't get me wrong, roots are part of their diet but not this time of year. With hibernation just around the corner they should be feeding on salmon to build up their fat reserves. Our guide informed us that salmon numbers were down all over and that she was concerned about the future of some of the bears. I sincerely hope that there was a salmon run after the tourist season ended to give them the opportunity to properly fatten up for the winter.
On our way back to Telegraph Cove we encountered two more grizzlies. They frequented the shoreline below the high water line and were feeding on the mussels, which are abundant here and cling to the rocks.
After our arrival back at Telegraph Cove I watched as a cruise ship navigated the waters of the Queen Charlotte Straight. And this concludes another adventure on British Columbia's West Coast.
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