We’re going on a bear hunt
We’re going on a bear hunt
We’re going to catch a big one
We’re not scared
What a beautiful day
We are still at Skagway and are off on a tour to see if we can see some wildlife in the wild. Particularly a grizzly bear or two. We have seen black bears and a grizzly (brown bear) would be good. Now a grizzly is very distinguishable from a black bear because it has a hump on its back behind its head. Its snout is also a bit longer. It is also a bit more aggressive if annoyed, challenged etc.
We are off to Haines which is a town on an inlet about a 45 min boat trip away from Skagway. There is a small river here that runs down into the bay. It is a spot were the salmon run. And the salmon are running strongly when we arrive. Our transport heads up the river and stops for all to alight to check out the river and the salmon, there are lots of sea birds flocking around and the salmon are going this way and that.
The ones that haven’t spawned yet are heading up-stream and the ones that have spawned, well they are dying and thrashing around in the shallows and pooling against the river bank. On the bank itself we have to be careful where we tread as there are lots of dead salmon lying around on the ground. Bellies slashed open and innards exposed. These have been the victims of bears it seems.
Bears like to eat the roe of the yet to spawn female salmon and don’t worry too much about the other parts, so just leave them lying around to rot away. Apparently, a bear can pick the female salmon from the male salmon and so the male may well feel more secure in his travels. Comforting thought if you are a male salmon.
We then come across evidence of bear, a modest size bear paw print in the muddy bank. There is a lot of interest shown in this bear paw print by our fellow travellers. Cameras are working hard.
THEN someone gets excited and calls out BEAR, and on the other side of the river this grizzly comes out of the brush beside the river and proceeds to gaze at the stream. Then with a bit of a splash she wades into the water and starts chasing fish around. Our guide lets us know that this grizzly is about 2 and a half and is ‘learning’ how to fish. For about 40 minutes we follow this bear up and down the river as she chases salmon around the shallows. She is sometimes up to her neck in the water and at others plunging around after fish. Quite a show.
Our guide said that the bear would have known we were around watching the performance, but being on the other side of the river was not in an insecure place. So she was quite happy to put on a show for us! We lingered a while watching this inter play of nature before heading back down to the river mouth to see some seals patrolling the river mouth and eagles flying around cleaning up fish pieces drifting by into the bay. We finally headed back to Skagway for an 8.30 sail away.
We are now at sea for a couple of days making our way north-west to Anchorage …………… but before reaching it we will check out a few more glaciers. You could well ask whether once you have seen a few glaciers do you have to see any more? Only time will tell it seems!