The miserable rainy weather continued and the wind and waves in the ocean were ugly, so we headed northwards in the protection of Peril Strait. We had a lot of quiet time with all those rainy days, though at one point I dressed in my foulies and went out in the kayak despite the pouring rain. As we headed north into Chatham Strait the weather started to ease and dry out a bit – some relief! Pulling into an anchorage one day we remembered that it has a big stream that was probably full of salmon right now… meaning that we were likely to see bears too.
This is the time of the year when the best food is available to the bears, and they have a short time to eat as much as they can before the long winter sets in. For the bears, a salmon stream is all about survival so we make sure we stay far enough away so we don’t alter the bear’s feeding behavior.
We sat for hours over two days, watching as many as 7 bears feeding in the stream. Low tide seemed best, with mothers (sows) teaching their cubs to fish or sharing their catch.At one point, a sow with cubs got into a fight with another sow. The cubs retreated to shore and the two sows stood their ground, growling, baring teeth, and snapping at each other. I will confess that the growling made my shutter finger shake!There was so much action in the stream that it was hard to know where to focus the cameras – the bear running after a fish on the right, the sows fighting in the middle, or the cubs sitting on the shore. These two cubs are 2nd year cubs, meaning that they were born in February-March of 2015. We also saw 1st year or spring cubs, born during hibernation this past winter. One of the days we were watching for a while and the tide had fallen quite a bit during that time. With so many bears in the stream and the bear pecking order re-sorting itself as various bears came and went, a good-sized bear started moving towards where I was sitting. She was moving slowly, catching and eating a fish along the way, but she was getting closer.I took the photo when she was close enough, just before I had to wave my kayak paddle and talk to her to get her to move off. She wasn’t threatening in any way, but a bear is a bear. It seems that I was probably in the way of a path she wanted to take to get to a lower part of the stream, and she was looking to see if she could pass by. Yes, it took a while for my heart rate to slow down. I had bear spray at hand in case the situation changed. People come to that particular spot to view the bears so they are exposed to humans sitting quietly nearby at this time of the year.
Our butts were pretty sore from sitting in the kayak or on rocks for two long days watching the bears, but it was worth every second!