When a salmon comes into a river system they are full of energy.They’ve come here to party like its 2018! They have this very strong primordial desire to mate! Once they do, their energy levels begin to drop fast.(kind of like human males) Basically they begin to die & they know it.
When they get weaker they cannot swim out in the middle of the fast moving river.They come into the shallows to get out of that strong current. It would be similar to you running a marathon & there is a strong head wind against you! Getting out of that wind is all your thinking of!
Once they move into the shallows they become easy prey for the bears! The bears patrol the banks of the river each day.One might go upstream in the morning & maybe come downstream in the afternoon.
They are looking for salmon like our friend here.If a bear comes along,it’ll invite Mr.Salmon to dinner.They then will go for a short walk into the forest.
Both the Daredevil & Romeo were gone tonight.They must both be at the salmon grounds.My girlfriend was home however! Maggie saved my butt tonight.I haven’t been skunked yet with my eagle friends.Theres always one home.
One thing I learned a long time ago is never to drink the water during spawning season!
WHY?………The water has Tape worm larvae in it.Bears drink the fresh water & get tape worms.You can see one hanging out of its butt.
With the rain we got all week, Tranquil creek turned into Tranquil river! This bear swam across to the other side.I had been walking upstream with my canoe in this very spot last week. Not a chance today!
I tied my boat up along a downed tree downstream.I was walking back to my boat when this bear came out of the forest in front of me & began walking downstream as well. It spied my boat & was curious. When it walked along the down tree to inspect my boat I yelled at her! Last thing I need are her claws puncturing the air tubes! She looked wide eyed at me for a second,turned & ran into the forest.
I got into my boat & began to drift downstream.She came back out looking rather perplexed…….”What did I do”?
During spawning season there are many bears wandering around.I’m mindful of that fact.My head is constantly swivelling around like a radar dish ever watchful.
Having said that If a bear walks by me I do become focused on its activities. I was taking shots of one bear walking past & after it left I looked around behind me & found this pretty 3 year old female just staring at me with such a beautiful look! I swear she knew me & seemed almost glad to find me! She was not more than 15 feet behind me.She just stood there waiting for me to notice her waiting patiently. I walked down stream away from her & she walked downstream following me.I moved 4 times & she did as well.
Her patience was rewarded by finding a salmon in a set of washboard rapids! She walked off with her treat & before she disappeared into the forest I yelled out “bon appetite”.
Her patience was rewarding by finding a tasty salmon for dinner! She slowly walked off into the forest to enjoy her salmon dinner in private.Most of the time the bears do not finish their salmon. They eat the best parts & leave the rest.This salmon will now decompose & act as fertilizer for the forest.The trees surrounding a salmon bearing stream grow larger as a result!
All the nutrients the salmon gathers over its 4 years while out in the open ocean are eventually brought back to the forest.
The bears wander up & down the streams banks searching for salmon.I’m standing in the middle of the stream for hours watching these bears walk past me.The salmon can see any movement near the bank & will dart away.While canoeing upstream many of them hit the bottom of my canoe in the panic to get away.Because I stand still in the water many times they will swim between my legs.I always hate when they splash near me & draw the attention of every bruin.Last thing I want is for a Bear to come crashing towards me!
Catching a “fresh” salmon is very hard as they are full of energy & quick! After a few weeks……not so much.They grow weaker & so get out of the rivers current by going close to shore.Thats exactly where the bears grab them!
They splash about seemly teasing the bears most of the time.
Whenever a bear grabs a salmon its always very mindful of other bears seeing & wanting it’s prize. This bear was scared I was going to run over there & take its salmon!
These are Surfbirds resting.They are migrating right now southward.Rankin rocks provides them with a safe place to rest.No ground predators about. Migratory birds use these places in the same way you would use a hotel on your vacation.
Many birds tuck their beaks into their feathers while they are sleeping.
I’ve noticed many of these Harbour Seals show signs recent wounds.I now believe its not from predators but from infighting amongst themselves.Strange thing is I’ve never seen them fighting while up on the rocks.So my only conclusion is that they must fight while in the water where they are far more maneuverable?
I was trying to line this Heron up with the moon.It took me into the shallows.I was worried about my prop being smacked by a rock.It took my attention away for just a few seconds but long enough for me to miss it “jumping”! Would of been a great shot!
I believe the Surfbird in the top picture is a immature.The lower bird is definitely an adult.
I was so happy to see my fine feathered friend Maggie back from the salmon grounds! I haven’t seen her in over 2 months at least.
I suspect her & Moe are too old to breed anymore,so she could afford to leave earlier than normal?
It was so good to see her flying out to greet me tonight! I recognized her immediately!
Romeo was back from the salmon grounds! I missed him! He probably will be going back a few more times before the run is over.I didn’t see Juliette anywhere,so assume she’s gone back herself?
Tranquil One killed a duck.He likes this spot to rest & eat but he doesn’t like me very much so he took off with his prize.
Tranquil One killed a duck & flew to Rankin Rocks to chow down.He upset a flock of Surfbirds who were already resting there.
Bears like to wade across the streams.Sometimes they will spook a salmon & that salmon will freak out & high tail it out of there……but sometimes in their rush they swim right up onto the rocks! Thats when the lucky bruin says “thank you very much”!
They basically act like a dog flushing Grouse out of the bush.
While I’m outstanding in the cold water for hours many bears will walk past me on both shores searching for dead salmon. They never bother me but are more concerned if I will attack them.
Most bears eat salmon that are already dead.A salmon will die & sink to the bottom.When it rains the creek turns into a river.The current increases & all those dead salmon resting on the bottom begin to move downstream.Most of them get flushed out into the estuary but many become snagged by trees that have fallen into the river.Thats what these bears are doing.They know trees act like a net & grab the salmon bouncing along the bottom near shore.
This is a male Chum salmon.After a few weeks in fresh water their bodies start to break down.The first thing to go is usually their skin. They get skin rot.They loose scales making them turn whitish in colour.When you see that they are getting close to checking out.
I found this guy in the shallows. When they first come into the river system,they are full of energy & very active! They can swim against the current no problem.After they spawn their bodies become weaker,so they cannot swim against the strong current anymore.They prefer to swim/stay in the shallows where the current is weaker. Notice how this guys dorsal fin is exposed.This is exactly what the bears are looking for! A bear will walk along the shore searching for these spent salmon. They’ll grab it & hurry off into the forest to enjoy their salmon dinner.
This is a recent video I shot up in Tranquil.It shows Chum salmon doing their dance of life! Once I let the “drift rig” go,it points where the current takes it.(the “Drift Rig” I made is three feet long.If the depth gets less than three feet it’ll drag along the bottom)This footage has not been edited.