"An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." ~Martin Buber
VISIT OUR HOMEPAGE FOR A NEW SLIDESHOW OF OCEAN ADVENTURES TRIPS.
Over the wet, snowy months of winter our thoughts have often turned to the bears that we know on the coast — wondering where they are in their winter dens and hoping they're warm and safe. Some mum bears are, as we speak, giving birth to new cubs — some the size of tiny kittens!
Over the winter we also check the Pacific Marine Weather reports — wind and wave heights can be exciting to see on the screen of our computer — and happily, not through the pilothouse windows of our ship, Great Bear II!
It's also a time to check in with friends along the coast and hear of the beauty of winter on the central and north coasts. Our favourite inlets, still, and blanketed in snow, must be unforgettable! A photo sent to us from friends on the north coast speaks volumes to us — 2 very healthy looking wolves stand at the edge of a meandering rain forest creek, in a meadow with backdrops of the snow shrouded trees. The card the photo came on reads "Peace on Earth". "That's what we wish for wolves" I think to myself, "Peace on Earth".
Only 2 ½ more months and we'll be heading north on the Great Bear II for "Magnificent Inlets of the Grizzly", "Islands at the Edge", and then over to the "Haida Gwaii" to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. The excitement begins!
Winter has also been a time for reflection on our past season — and more moments that will forever be indelibly etched in our memory. The following is a story of one of our most memorable days on the north coast this past fall.
The ebony coloured granite cliffs rise like monuments, thousands of feet above us. Every gouge, every crease, every undulation, carved and polished by ancient receding glaciers, can be seen in the afternoon sun. Ledges in the cliff face provide a foothold for grasses, small bushes and even a few dwarf trees, looking like perfectly terraced gardens. Left over from the latest rainstorm, water first trickles, then cascades and finally plunges over the cliffs and into the inky blue sea. The sound of water over polished granite completely mesmerizes me and for a moment I forget where I am.
Seabirds taking advantage of the warm granite and afternoon sun, lazily stretch their wings and ruffle their feathers — drying out from the rain. As we make our way further up the tidal channel, ravens announce us, and songbirds provide musical interludes. On snags and from the tops of mammoth rainforest trees, eagles survey their realm and plan their next meal.
The edge of the rainforest seems like a curtain, providing sanctuary to what lays within. Stately hemlock trees stand, laden with long hair like strands of moss that eerily sway in the wind. Giant cedars, with their lacy boughs allow only a glimpse of what lays beyond — leaving me wanting more. Ancient, fallen trees, covered in bright green moss and delicate ferns, each their own little ecosystem, provide life and shelter for others.
In the distance, with only their heads above the long grass, a Grizzly mum and her cubs can be seen in their search for dinner. It's time to leave the calm of this channel and make our way up the river.
As we enter the river, thousands of seabirds that have come to feast on the salmon, rise in clouds in front of us and then settle on the water again as we pass. Everywhere I look I witness signs of the abundance and beauty of one of the estuary's greatest seasonal events. The return of the wild pacific salmon, floods the estuary with food and nutrients for every living thing — bears, wolves, birds, insects and the giant trees of the Great Bear Rainforest — all will benefit.
As we navigate the river, its banks strewn with the carcasses of dead and dying salmon, the pungent smell of decaying fish, fills the air. This isn't a 'smell' to the Grizzly bears — this is an 'aroma'! Just ahead of us on the grassy bank of the river, stands a huge, fat Grizzly, his nose to the air. Something on the opposite bank of the river gets his attention, and he wades into the icy water of the river and starts to swim. The river, swollen from the rains, makes this swim less than ideal, and the bear is now up to his ears in water and being swept towards us. The skies have again opened up and torrential rain pelts us as we try to hide our cameras in our rain jackets — not what I want to do when a large Grizzly is being swept ever closer to us! A shaft of sunlight appears further up river, creating the perfect silhouette of the Grizzly's head as he swims, and lighting up the gulls that swoop over his head in anticipation. This is one of those moments when I feel that I can sacrifice my camera!
As I eagerly photograph this amazing scene before us, I see the Grizzly finally make some headway in the river and manage to exit the raging waters onto the riverbank opposite us. With a quick glance over his shoulder at us, he waded back in, plucked out a salmon, and sat down to dinner. Between the shrill cries of the gulls, we could hear every mouthful being enjoyed — the crunch of the salmon's head in the mighty jaws of the Grizzly and then the lip smacking noises as the bear seemed to savour every morsel. Which reminded me — I needed to return to the ship to start our dinner. The tide was falling and with the huge tides after the full moon, we all needed to leave the river and return to the deeper waters at the edge of the estuary or risk being stranded here overnight.
As I was preparing dinner, someone motioned for me to come outside. As I stepped out onto the forward deck of the Great Bear II and into the sun's last glow of the day, the most amazing scene stretched out before us. The giant, black cliffs at our side were still alive with the sound of trickling water — its granite face, laced with waterfalls. The edge of the forest, with its giant stands of cedar, hemlock and spruce were in shadow — but seemed to anchor the scene and bring a stillness to it. In front of the forest, the estuary with its golden grasses, clumps of small bright green young trees and its smooth sandy mudflats, were alive with sights, sounds and smells. There were bright white bands along the shores — gulls that now seemed to be still except for occasional interruptions by scavenging young Grizzly bears. The two young bears at first seemed only interested food, but as we watched, it seemed like they were mostly interested in playing on the mud flats in the sun. All seemed quiet except for the distant splash of a salmon that had finally come home, or the scolding cry of a gull as the young bears came too close, or the sounds of the young bears' paws as they crossed the gravel beds at the river's mouth. Especially after the rains, and with such a low tide, the estuary and surrounding cliffs offered up layers of smells — the smell of dark, rich mud; the smell of water falling over thousands of feet of granite; the smell of the salmon coming home; the smell of the sea meeting the tidal flats; and when a soft breeze blew out of the mountains, the smell of the cedar, spruce and hemlock.
As the sun continued to set, the estuary fell into evening and all seemed still and satisfied. As I returned inside to finish making supper, I knew why I'd been given this gift. These most special moments in time remind me of why I'm here and what's still left to do. As I looked around at the others, some with tears running down their cheeks and others with huge smiles on their faces, and still others nodding their heads knowingly, I'm reminded how nature can really define, invigorate and heal us.
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." ~Anatole France
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BC GOVERNMENT FAILING TO PROTECT CANADIAN GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST
BELLA BELLA, B.C. — Two years after B.C. Premier Campbell announced a "historical land use agreement" that was intended to protect Canada's Great Bear Rainforest, it remains unlegislated.
Although the land use agreement was supposed to establish new conservancy boundaries, new large scale industrial proposals are planned within these same areas — leaving the world renowned Great Bear Rainforest under threat once again.
"People across BC, Canada and around the world supported the effort to protect this magnificent forest and applauded Premier Campbell for his visionary achievement," states Ian McAllister of the BC Environmental group Pacific Wild, "and now we watch in dismay as taxpayer funded environmental assessments take place on projects that should simply be shelved."
Wind farms on Banks Island Conservancy. The Provincial Government and the Canadian Wildlife Service are conducting an environmental assessment for a massive wind farm, which will include a 150km high power transmission line that extends through four other Great Bear conservancies. Where is the announced protection?
Flooding of the Nascall Conservancy. This proposal would destroy one of the most spectacular lake systems on the British Columbia coast. In 2001, the NDP Government of the day designated the entire Nascall drainage as a conservancy. In February, 2006, the BC Liberal government under Premier Campbell confirmed the designation. Where is the announced protection?
The Spring Trophy Hunt opens across BC on April 1st. It is a sad April Fool's joke that hunters will be permitted for sport to kill wolves, grizzly bears and black bears. The hunt includes bears with the recessive gene found in the endangered BC Spirit Bear, which is found in the remote river valleys of the Great Bear Rainforest. Where is the announced protection?
Premier Campbell appears to think he can have it both ways. Announce a "historical land use agreement" to make the public happy, while quietly encouraging and permitting industrial development in the very Great Bear Rainforest conservancies that he vowed to protect only two years ago. Flooded rivers, dead bears and massive wind farms are not what the people of the world were promised.
"This is an action alert! It is time again for us all to do what we did before. Demand that Premier Campbell honour his promise to protect the Great Bear Rainforest and the wildlife that lives within it," urges Ian McAllister.
Ian McAllister is a co-founder of Pacific Wild and has been at the forefront of wildlife protection campaigns in Canada for twenty years. He is the author of 'The Last Wild Wolves'07' and 'Great Bear Rainforest'. He was awarded Time magazine's "Leader for the 21st Century Award" for his efforts to protect Canada's Great Bear Rainforest.
For more information: Contact Ian McAllister, Pacific Wild
You Can Make a Difference...
Public pressure can make a difference! After a world wide, overwhelming signature and letter writing campaign, the Japanese halted Humpback whaling this year!!
Ways Ocean Adventures and our guests make a difference:
VALHALLA WILDERNESS SOCIETY
Valhalla Wilderness Society is one of our most often recommended environmental organization, to support. No words could ever even adequately describe the monumental projects they are involved in, so we suggest that you visit http://www.vws.org to learn more about them.
If you're wondering how you can make a difference in British Columbia, we urge you to join Valhalla Wilderness Society and "TAKE ACTION".
On this amazing website, read "The Passing of a Warrior", about the extraordinary life and contributions of Colleen McCrory, one of the founding members of Valhalla Wilderness Society.
Coming in our next edition of "What's New", learn about Pacific Wild (http://www.pacificwild.org), another grass roots environmental organization doing very important work on B.C.'s coast!
MAKE A DIFFERENCE BY VOICING YOUR OPINION ON:
If our Premier Gordon Campbell and his B.C. government are so concerned with "Going Green", why do they continue to allow and even promote Sport and Trophy hunting in B.C. — and worst of all, even in many B.C. Parks?
If you have a comment or idea regarding Sport / Trophy hunting in B.C., please let us know. We encourage you to also email our Premier at firstname.lastname@example.org with your views. Remember, your voice does make a difference!
The Enbridge Gateway Project still has plans to see OIL TANKERS travel up Douglas Channel to Kitimat to pick up crude oil! If having the moratorium lifted on oil tankers on our coast bothers you — please contact Premier Gordon Campbell and Prime Minister Stephen Harper!! One spill from an oil tanker on our coast would be a certain catastrophe. Please see the website of the Dogwood Initiative for more information and to see what you can do: http://www.dogwoodinitiative.org.
Read about what Katabatic Power and the B.C. government have in mind now! Wind farms sound like good clean energy — BUT — before you feel too comfortable with that idea, go to: http://www.sierraclub.bc.ca/media-centre/press-clips/power-plans-threaten-coastal-forests
Let Katabatic Power (http://www.katabaticpower.com) know how you feel about this project.
"Use the talents you possess — for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except for the best" ~Henry Van Dyke
Reflections Newsletter Archive
(Right: Photo credit to H.Brink)
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." ~Rachel Carson
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