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Official Blog of the Great Bear II

First class wilderness adventures and holiday cruises on the coast of British Columbia.

Current | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 |2019 | 2018-2016 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006-2004

Tuesday, March 5, 2022


Close-up of Herring Spawn

Normally a vibrant yellow, the rock weed in these photos were blanketed in the eggs of Herring, deposited in just a few hours!

Each year in early spring, tens of thousands of tons of Pacific Herring migrate from offshore to near-shore habitats to spawn en masse in one of nature's most spectacular events. The waters along shorelines flow chalky white with herring milt and eggs. The spawning herring and their eggs attract both marine and terrestrial predators - at a time when food sources tend to be low.

Herring Spawn on SeaweedTens of thousands of Herring Eggs

Branches from trees that have been immersed in the sea during high tides... now they are covered in Herring eggs. Coastal First Nations have for millennia, put trees branches and seaweed fronds in the water for the Herring to lay eggs on as their methods of harvesting.

Other than the wild Pacific salmon, few species in B.C. are as ecologically, culturally or economically important as the Pacific herring. They are a keystone or foundation species of the marine and terrestrial food web, directly supporting salmon, halibut, seals, sea lions, and whales, and many species of seabirds. At low tide, the table is set for terrestrial animals such as eagles, wolves and bears who come to the beaches to feast on the Herring spawn that has attached to rocks, seaweed, and branches.

The Pacific Herring have also fed coastal First Nations for thousands of years. The traditional First Nations spawn on kelp (SOK) fishery involves the suspension of tree branches, kelp fronds and other seaweeds in sheltered areas where herring spawn prodigiously in early spring. The roe builds up in multiple layers until harvesters collect it, and the adult fish are left to spawn again in the future.

Solitary Dorsal Fin Bald Eagle feasting on a freshly caught HerringStellar Sea Lions fishing for Herring
Seabirds and Coastal Wolf looking for Herring spawn

Seabirds, Eagles, Sea Lions, Whales, Wolves, and other territorial and marine animals come to feast on the Herring and Herring row.
...and a big male Orca swimming towards us to check us out.

In contrast, industrial seine and gillnet fisheries (collectively known as the sac roe fishery) net and kill the herring and export the roe, while the rest of the fish is mainly used for pet food, fish farm pellets and fertilizer.

In 2018, the Heiltsuk People of Bella Bella ended the industrial seine and gill net fisheries in their territory as have the neighbouring Kitasoo/Xai'xais People of Klemtu.

It is in the territories of the Heiltsuk People of Bella Bella and the Kitasoo/Xai'xais People of Klemtu, that our early Spring 2019 trip took place.

In the weeks that we spent with these tiny Pacific Herring, "seeing it is believing it" took on renewed meaning.

Female Herring laying eggs

A tiny Pacific Herring female struggling to lay her eggs on the rocks.

As we watched a tiny female Herring, struggling, literally half-in and half-out of the water, to lay her eggs, the profound meaning of her importance to the web of life on earth, became very clear.

Tears streamed down my face as I realized the enormity of what we were witnessing.

Surf Scoters

HUGE flock of Surf Scoters which we have seen in the thousands!

I'm convince that if every person could realize what we did during these two weeks, there would be a lot more effort to ensure the survival of the Pacific Herring!

We will offer these soul-stirring trips again in the early Spring of 2022, for which we are already taking reservations. Contact us to book on Herring trips in 2022.

Join us and witness one of Nature's Greatest Events!

February 24, 2022

WHAT'S HAPPENING in the GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST? Learning how to eat Sedge grass Tucked safely away in their dens, often in the roots and hollowed out trunks of old Cedar trees, some mother Bears are giving birth to tiny, new cubs.

Learning what to eat Grizzly Bear mothers choose dens higher up mountain slopes while Black Bear mothers choose dens in lower elevations. At birth, Grizzly Bear cubs weigh about 11 ounces to 1 pound 6 ounces, while Black Bear cubs weigh between 8 and 12 ounces.

When the cubs emerge from the den with their mothers, they are approximately 10 - 12 weeks old with Grizzly Bear cubs weighing approximately 10 - 20 pounds and Black Bear cubs weighing about 4 - 8 pounds. Copying mama's every move

Grizzly Bear cubs typically stay with their mothers until the spring (when they turn 3), while Black Bear cubs generally stay with their mothers until the spring (when they turn 1 or 2, depending on food availability).

Right now, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest on the central coast of B.C., there is snow still on the ground in most areas where bears are denning. Some are more shy than others

When we begin our trips there in May, most bears are out of hibernation and have come to the river estuaries to feast on the protein rich sedge grass and early Salmon berries. The bear cubs are learning from their mothers by copying her every move: what and how to eat different foods, where to find fresh water and how to stay safe from predators.

Nothing is sweeter than watching tiny bear cubs sampling Sedge grass or Teredo (which are a tiny saltwater clam that burrows in old wood) or Skunk Cabbage roots, sweet Salmon berries and even Barnacles.

These lessons are not only crucial to the cubs' own survival, but important for female cubs to teach their cubs one day.

The trusting relationships we have built with Bears, over 25+ years in this part of the world, means some extraordinary shared moments with mother Bears and their cubs.

Their trust in us is humbling and reminds us of why it is SO important that our guests learn who these bears really are and not the scary monster stories told to so many people, by those that kill bears for cash, kicks and trophies.

While we understand of course that these beautiful animals are not "teddy bears", the way in which we conduct ourselves in their homelands makes ALL the difference. Four month old Grizzly Bear cubs playing Sweet, curious little Girl Bear What are they talking about?
Bears are emotionally intelligent beings which is often demonstrated within these bear families. Watching bear cubs play with each other, snuggle up to their mothers when they are scared, the way the mother holds her cubs when she nurses, and the way she assures them, are only a few of the many behaviours that prove that bears are indeed sentient beings and very worthy of our respect, considerations, and most of all worthy of us speaking up for them when they misunderstood.

Our relationship with bears is not only crucial to their well-being and survival, but to our own. As the world seems to spin out of control, nature is all important. We need to remember that we are not separate nor superior to nature, but a part of nature itself and in truly understanding this, we will lead healthier, more fulfilled lives.

While we watch tiny bear cubs swing in the low branches of bushes and trees, while they wrestle with each other, and while their mother holds them and hums to them while they nurse, we are grateful for and humbled by their trust in us and shown the truth of who bears really are.

We are also grateful for and humbled by all the First Nations People in whose territories we travel, who take stewardship of their lands and animals, so seriously.

In spring, we are traveling primarily in the territories of the Heiltsuk People of Bella Bella and the Kitasoo Xai'xais People of Klemtu, and sometimes a little into Gitga'at Territory, home to the People of Hartley Bay.

If you have a trip planned with us in Spring in the Great Bear Rainforest, we look forward to meeting you in person and sharing our favourite part of the world with you. Until then, we hope you are enjoying nature where you live and travel! Mother Grizzly Bear humming and nursing her yearling cub
Humpback whale surfacing

Join us... and discover how "you're connected with everything."

Current | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 |2019 | 2018-2016 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006-2004

First class BC wilderness cruises, coastal tours and charters on the West Coast of British Columbia aboard the 54 ft. Great Bear II, out of Vancouver, BC.
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