Spirit of the River

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia

I have a passion for Kermode bears, also known as spirit bears, and enjoy visiting the British Columbia rainforest to photograph them. They are a unique and beautiful subspecies of black bears that have recessive genes for white fur. Their black noses help keep them from being confused with albino bears, which can also occur in nature. It had rained in this area for the previous three days and the river was quite swollen. In fact, at one point, I had tried to cross the creek and almost got swept away. The force of the water shows the strength of these bears, as this individual was able to stand in the powerful river current with little effort. I literally took hundreds of images in order to get one where the bear is not moving but I could also get the blurred effect of the river in motion. It takes about a half to a quarter of a second of exposure to blur the fast-moving river, but is almost too long for the bear to be completely still. This bear waited for hours to catch a salmon, which the bears heavily rely on for food. It was a lot of work and a lot of patience, both for the bear and the photographer. You would think I would get this shot quickly, as they seem to stand still waiting for a fish, but their eyes, noses and heads seem to be constantly in motion. At one point this bear left the river and I still didn't have the shot I wanted. I was fortunate when she returned and I was finally able to get this image, and the bear was able to get a fish. There are a lot of legends surrounding these West Coast bears. In some of them, Raven, The Creator, wanted to make every tenth bear in the British Columbian coastal region white to remind people of a time when the land was covered in ice and snow - a reminder that there had been an ice age. A theory of why they are white is that the light colour makes them more successful in catching salmon.  As salmon swim upstream, they will look up from the river bottom and would be less likely to notice the lightly coloured bears that blend in more readily with light skies. It is said they are more successful fisher bears than their black counterparts. 

Limited Edition 8x10 and larger to 750

Conservation Edition 30x40 to 20


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