SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 16, September 2016 - Page 90

I hate to say it, but the bears I saw looked hungry – eating grass like grazing cows, tearing at pieces of kelp, mashing colonies of barnacles with their paws and lapping up the salty gruel right off the intertidal rocks, gnawing on whale vertebrae like a dog with a mighty bone. Locals say the salmon run was poor last summer and late this summer – not much to go on without real data, but I’d be interested know if it’s true.

Bears exhibit such personalities and such a range of emotions that watching their wordless interactions, it is perfectly clear what dynamics they are encountering, exchanging, absorbing and reacting to amongst the individual animals. I enjoyed watching them in moments of careful concern between relatives, as well as in flashes of aggression and competition for food. The safety of a Zodiac bobbing just offshore is the perfect place to watch these ursid goliath brown bears.

Image below: This young bear was showing ribs and tearing at kelp — not much of a menu item…

Image right above: One grumpy old bear charges another younger one in a dispute over a carcass washed up on the beach in Geographic Harbor.

Image right below: St. Matthew Island’s bird cliffs, Pribilof Islands