Postcard from Alaska – Grizzly

We expected to find the bears at the back of the bay, where the stream and the salmon would be.

The mission of the morning was to see bears. So we cast off lines at Tenakee and headed up Tenakee Inlet. There are several side bays along this large inlet, each with streams that attract the bears. The salmon had not quite started to move into the streams, a bit early in the season yet, but they were around. We hoped the bears would be around as well, congregating at the streams in anticipation of their yearly feast.

It was a surprise when my dad spotted this bear, we were just starting into the bay and still a mile from where we expected to find bears. As everyone grabbed binoculars we steered towards shore to get a better look.

So often the bears will run for the woods when a large white object appears. This bear just kept eating grass. A further surprise… Just as we got closer a small bear cub appeared at mother’s side. Deep water just off the rocky shore allowed us to get the boat in quite close. On occasion the mother would look up at us as we drifted in for a closer look. The array of pointing humans, binoculars and cameras were dismissed as unimportant as she continued to graze along the shore.

The cub was a handsome fellow, dark, with a collar of golden fur. He stayed close to mother, but seemed curious. We may have been the first humans he had ever seen. He watched us intently from the safety of mother’s side.

There were several bears at the stream and the grassy flats at the top end of the bay. But the shallow water would keep us from getting anywhere near with the boat. The total was nine bears that morning, including four cubs, three with the same mother. With the morning’s plan a success, we headed back to Tenakee to collect our crab traps.

Grizzly with Cub
A mother Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) and cub on the shore in Long Bay, Tenakee Inlet, AK

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

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