The grizzly bear viewing at Knight Inlet Lodge has remained fantastic throughout the month of September. Lately it has featured rather friendly interactions between grizzlies that we believe are unrelated. This unusual activity includes a young male hanging around with an older male that Researcher Mel Claphm believes is about 4 years older. This pair also tolerated Flo, a young female, fishing for salmon with them for over an hour. Flo who was a regular in 2010 has only just returned this season. She is the grizzly bear that seemed to find our bus interesting last year.
Chris & Helen Rose visited Knight Inlet Lodge in the middle of August this year and have been kind enough to share some of their photos with us. In my opinion they are some of the best we have seen in awhile. Thank you Chris & Helen.
Knight Inlet Lodge guide Lori Kublik has kindly supplied us with the following report.
Yesterday and today a LOT of salmon moved up into the spawning channel during the hot, sunny afternoon when the bears must have been hiding in the shade. Yesterday late morning me and my group of guests were VERY lucky to see adult grizzly bears playing together. It started with a male and female, and they wrestled in the water, play biting each other. Then they separated as they noticed another male arrive. The two males then started playing together, while the female swam off to go check out the salmon in the deep pool.
Those two males played, bit, hugged, wrestled and swatted for over half an hour! It was totally wild. One of the most amazing wildlife experiences I will ever have, I’m sure. We were all flabbergasted. Not sure if all 3 of these playful bears are siblings, or if they’re just happy to have so much salmon around that they’re willing to play with anyone?? This morning we saw the same male and female playing in the spawning channel on the drive back out of the channel, and the other day Mel saw this female nuzzle the nose of another female who had a salmon in her mouth, in a friendly way, so she thought they were siblings. Who knows. Pretty cool to see adult grizzly bears playing.
Peanut was hanging out at the weir while the bigger bears were playing, and he was so focused on watching the bears downstream, and hoping for salmon, that he didn’t notice a female approaching. She stealthily moved under our stand, down the bank, into the water, right up to Peanut. She bit him on the side before he knew she was there, jumping in shock and running out of the water and out of sight. Hilarious! We figured he must have been pretty embarrassed.
The bear that bit him didn’t stick around too long, so Peanut returned to his favourite spot just below the weir. All the while the big bears are still playing. The female who had played with one of the males got bored of swimming in the deep pool of salmon, and she approached Peanut at a slow walk. Peanut ran out of the channel up onto the road when she got close, and she ran up after him. He ran for about 15m then slowed, thinking she wouldn’t follow. She kept running, and he glanced back and realized it and really turned on the speed. The last we saw of them they were tearing down the road out of sight. Hee hee.
Peanut survived alright, because we saw him later that afternoon, no new scars. In fact, it looked like the same female that chased him in the morning was sharing one side of the weir with him for fishing, so maybe they reached a truce. VERY interesting bear dynamics this year.
On a Glendale Cove estuary tour this afternoon we also saw Bella and her cubs near the water’s edge, and the cubs were playing quite a bit. Very cute.
Grizzly Bear Research in Glendale Cove
Some of you who have visited the lodge in the past three years may have met me during your stay. My name is Melanie Clapham and I have been conducting research out of Knight Inlet Lodge since 2009. My research is looking into how grizzly bears communicate with each other using their sense of smell. This forms the basis of my whole PhD project, of which I am now in my final year. My project is co-funded by Knight Inlet Lodge and the University of Cumbria in the UK. This is where I am based during the winter months, analysing the data I have collected in the previous summer/fall, and writing up my findings. I am now back at the lodge conducting my final field season, and will be here until October. When I am here my days are usually spent searching the estuary for bears, and out in the forest maintaining my trail cameras. These heat and motion-sensitive cameras are the main method of data collection I am using. By placing these cameras facing bear ‘marking trees’ (or ‘rub trees’ as they’re known), I am able to monitor natural scent marking behaviour by different individuals in the population. This way I am also able to assess whether its adult males which seem to be communicating, or adult females, or subadults, and so on. I am also looking at which individuals investigate the scent marks of others, but don’t actually mark on trees themselves. By conducting this data collection between May and October, I can assess how marking behaviour changes during different seasons i.e. the breeding and non-breeding season.
In addition to looking at the social function of scent marking, I have also been documenting the trees which bears mark on. Focusing on what we call ‘traditionally used trees’ which are trees marked on by different bears over many generations, I am looking at whether it is the species, the size, or the location of the tree which makes it favourable to be marked on over others. I believe this is key to explaining the use of trees for scent marking by bears, rather them just been used to relieve an itch. It seems that the selection of these trees is much more structured. So by studying differences in marking behaviour by different age and sex classes, and analysing the trees which bears use to mark on, we are beginning to fit different pieces of the puzzle together in understanding the complexities of chemical communication in grizzly bears.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Wyatt and all the staff at Knight Inlet Lodge for their continued support and field assistance throughout this whole project.
University of Cumbria
Knight Inlet Lodge is actively working to improve the salmon stocks on the Glendale River. One project towards this end is the fry monitoring program that we operate from late February until early May. The purpose of this project is to count pink salmon fry as they move down the river towards the ocean. We accomplish this by positioning a RST (rotary screw trap) in the river. This system allows us to catch a portion of the escaping fry without harming them in any way.
An encouraging 18,500,000 fry were estimated to have left the Glendale spawning channel in the spring of 2010 which points towards a very good pink Salmon return in the fall of 2011. As you can see from the photo below working in Glendale Cove during the winter months can be a challenging proposition.
PAULINE & IAN ANDERSON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 2010.
It was with great excitement that we looked forward to our return visit to Knight Inlet in October last year. Having enjoyed “The Grizzly Bear Adventure” with Titan HiTours 2 years earlier we booked the same tour, this time extending our stay at the lodge by an extra 2 nights – what indulgence!
Knowing what to expect did not detract from our anticipation &, as in 2008, we had a truly wonderful time. It was like going to visit old friends – indeed we were recognised by some of the guides & staff (rather worrying!!).
The weather was very different this time – dull & raining almost every day. Did it matter? Certainly not – we were comfortably togged-up in our orange suits & under cover mostly. The Rainforest Walk was rather wet but, nonetheless, thoroughly enjoyable.
The Whale Watching day trip was excellent – the only one of the 5 days when the sun shone & it was beautifully calm on the Johnstone Straits, thankfully. We saw a number of Humpbacks & several very vocal sealions but the pod of Killer Whales was elusive despite the best efforts of our 3 guides.
The main attraction of the holiday was, of course, the Grizzlies. I could quite happily stay at the viewing stands all day watching the bears while they fished the waters & ate their catch, or just lazed on the banks. Twice we were entertained by a sow & one of her twins rubbing against a tree just a few metres away from us. I almost wore out my camera battery during one episode! The 2 year old “white” cub put in a couple of appearances with its sibling & mother. They never came too close, seeming rather timid, whereas some others were as intent on watching us as we were on watching them.
Our guides were all excellent – very helpful & friendly, knowledgable & multi talented. The evening interpretive talks in the warmth & comfort of the lounge were very interesting & entertaining, & all of the meals & snacks were first class.
Knight Inlet Lodge certainly has our vote for “Top Holiday Destination in the World”. I see previously on the blog that one lucky traveller has visited 3 times – we can’t be outdone & are saving hard for another trip!
The Bear that got away with the Fish.
My brief stay in 2002 at floating Knight Inlet Lodge was wonderful, and I was looking forward to seeing the grizzly bears.I was not disappointed as they turned up, one at a time to look for the fish they were expecting to catch. It was the time for the salmon run and I waited expectantly on the platform overlooking a small weir, where it is easier to catch the salmon as they fight their way upstream, and a good place view them at close quarters. Well, I was not disappointed as they turned up, one at a time to look for the fish they were expecting to catch, and appeared to be making a circuit, patrolling the weir. Some stood on the bank looking up and down while others waded into the stream,gazing despondently at the empty water. You could almost hear them thinking: “Where are the fish? But no fish appeared because there were no fish that we could see. What had happened to the salmon run?
Then, all of a sudden, one bear came rushing round the base of our platform in a great hurry and plunged into the water excitedly. He stood on his hind legs to get a good look then dived into the water and came up with – yes, a fish in his mouth!! Of course my camera battery decide to expire at that very moment but I managed to get a departing view of the bear, fish in mouth, striding into the bushes. He was not taking any chances that it might be stolen from him and had decided to eat it in solitary enjoyment.
I saw many bears in those two days of fantastic bear watching, but there was only one fish! I couldn’t help but wonder what they would do when it was time to go into hibernation as there would not be much fat on them to exist for all the time spent away from the world. No one seemed to know why the fish had failed and I felt so sorry for them and often wondered how they managed. It was sad to see their puzzled expressions when the fish they were expecting for a good meal failed to arrive, but glad for the lucky one although one fish would not go very far. Better than nothing I guess!
Although the salmon runs does vary in timing and size from year to year we are happy to report the bears are doing very well 8 years later. This story was contributed by Elvor Shaw who was heading out to go line dancing, at age 88, after emailing me the photo in this story. Way to go Mrs. Shaw!
Knight Inlet Lodge guest Brian Glozier took this footage of grizzly bears fishing for salmon on the Glendale River while at Knight Inlet Lodge in early October. We would like to thank Brian for allowing us to pass the word around about his video on YouTube. To view Brian’s video click here Patience please at it takes few minutes to download!
Knight Inlet Lodge is based in Glendale Cove on the coast of British Columbia. Canada and is considered by many to be the premier wilderness destination in the country.
It was a clear October (2009) morning as we departed Campbell River on Vancouver Island Air’s turbo Otter. We could see for miles in every direction and had amazing views of all the grand mountain peaks and fjords of the BC Coast as we flew into Knight Inlet Lodge in Glendale Cove. On the flight was our family of four and six other guests. As it was near the end of the season Knight Inlet Lodge was able to accommodate our family with our two children Zach 8 and Clem 6
Within an hour of arriving at the lodge we were viewing our first grizzly bears – a sow and her cub in the estuary. These would be the first of many that we would see during our two-day stay at the lodge. In the afternoon, after a hearty lunch, we went up to the ‘Weir viewing stand’ to try and see more bears. Another sow with two cubs were there feeding on the abundant salmon when we arrived and two more quickly joined them. Our guide Jamie explained that there was a good return of Pink and Chum salmon this year so the bears had lots to eat. It appeared as so as the bears could easily and effortlessly scoop up salmon with their paws or their mouths.
When we returned to the lodge we had the option of participating in a marine cruise up Knight Inlet, which we were all eager to join. Highlights of the cruise included waterfalls, humpback whales and Dahl’s porpoise all within an hours boat ride from the lodge. Our guide also shared some stories and legends from local First Nations people. After dinner we were treated to an interpretive talk by one of the naturalists. Then it was a quick hot tub before bed.
With all the highlights of our first day I wondered what was in store for us on our second day. I wondered if we would see the blond grizzly cub the guides were talking about. After breakfast our guide Jamie offered to take just our family on an interpretive walk to find animal tracks and other signs of wildlife. He brought along some plaster to make some casts if we found some good animal tracks. We did find lots of great tracks of bear, wolf and cougar among others, but the best were two perfect deep grizzly tracks in a sand bar by the river. While we let the plaster set Jamie took us back to the ‘Weir viewing stand’ and then to the ‘Finger viewing stand’. Like the day before we saw lots of bears, and yes we also saw the blond cub.
That afternoon we went on a family paddle in the lodge’s kayaks. We paddled up into the estuary to see the ducks and sea birds. The boys got a bit chilled so we warmed up in the hot tub when we returned to the lodge. After another great dinner and interpretive presentation we retired to our comfortable suite. We spent the next morning lazing around and checking out the Lodge’s salmon hatchery before departing. Jaime gave the kids the plaster casts of the bear tracks we made the day before. They were all nicely wrapped and safe for the trip home. There couldn’t be better souvenirs from our stay.
Thanks to Dean and Kathy and everyone at Knight Inlet Lodge for two amazing days of adventure, learning and exploration. The tour package was seamless right down to every detail, from start to finish. We look forward to our next adventure in British Columbia’s wilderness.
Evan, Sue, Zack and Clem Loveless
This story was posted by Knight Inlet Lodge guest Yvonne J. Thank you Yvonne!
In September 2010 we stayed in Knight Inlet Lodge. A trip down to paradise! We had the time of our lives. We experienced some great bear viewing. What a thrill to see the bears in their natural habitat. Chasing and feeding on salmon, bears walking down under the viewing platform, but the icing on the cake was when one bear jumped up on the car! Talking about close encounters! The bear was very interested in the window wipes and was not impressed when the guides tried to chase her away, afraid she would might wreck the car. She didn’t wreck anything, but she sure put on a great show! The whole trip was an experience of a lifetime! The flight down there, the lodge, the staff and the great bear viewings made a big impression I will never forget!