Some may know that many years ago we worked as commercial fishermen on vessels based in Seattle that made the yearly voyage to western Alaska via the incomparable “Inside Passage”, a magnificent coastline stretching north from Seattle that connects almost 850 miles of wild fiords mostly in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska. This area is almost entirely devoid of human development with the exception of a few small ports and legacy villages from the per-European contact days. In 1997 a significant portion of this region was recognized and protected in British Columbia by a collaboration between First Nations tribes, Conservation NGO’s and the BC Provincial government in an area branded The Great Bear Rainforest and now covers an area of approximately 12,000 square miles.
The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled temperate rainforest left in the world. The area is home to species such as cougars, wolves, grizzly bears, salmon and the rarely seen Kermode bear, known by First Nation people as the “Spirit Bear”. a unique subspecies of the black bear, in which one in ten cubs displays a recessive white colored coat. On our many trips through this area on fishing boats we had never taken time to explore the BC wilderness and observe its unique and abundant charismatic wildlife. Therefore when we had the chance to team up with our friends at Apex Expeditions (apex-expeditions.com) to organize a trip we were keen to go. An intrepid group gathered in Bella Bella, BC to board the 68 ft. Island Odyssey for the first portion of our expedition into the wilds of The Great Bear Rainforest. One primary target of the expedition was to track and photograph one of the rarest bears in the world, the “Spirit Bear”. In September the salmon runs are active spawning in most of the rivers on the coast; an activity which brings all bears to the BC rivers to feast on the abundant fish to stock up on fat reserves for their long winter hibernation naps. Connected to an excellent local guide we were still believing we had only a 1 in 5 chance to see the spirit bear since there are so few and their home terrain is rugged and remote. But as luck would have it in driving rains and gale force winds we were finally rewarded with a sighting of this living legend and there was so much more. Check out the following images of cratures large and small and the dramatic landscapes of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.