Bears and more bears!

Published: July 24th 2011
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Taking off in HomerTaking off in HomerTaking off in Homer

We're off in a Cessna 206 for the big adventure!
Walking back from dinner at the Fresh Catch in Homer, still daylight at 9:00 pm, two eagles flitting overhead after a day of bear watching for me and a day of fishing for Jim – life doesn’t get much better. Would you have ever thought to put bernaise on grilled salmon? Not me, either, but I had grilled sockeye salmon served on a bed of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus, topped with Tanner crabmeat and bernaise. I cleaned my plate. Jim opted for prime rib served with macaroni and cheese. He cleaned his plate as well. Yummy!

It was a beautiful day for flying, clear and about 65 degrees. I got lucky in not having to report for the 6:00 am flight. My flight left at 12:45. The flight times are dependent on the tides as the planes land on a beach. With the 25’ swing between high and low tide, it’s apparent that the planes have to land at low tide. We flew for about an hour to a spot where the pilot/guides had spotted a beached whale and seen bears feeding on it. As we landed, I spotted a wolf on the beach, but couldn’t get
Mt Augustine volcanoMt Augustine volcanoMt Augustine volcano

Hard to see but it is steaming
a picture. Once landed, we were given a bear-safety review: told that we would approach the bears single-file so as to appear smaller and not threatening. Once at the viewing site, we would spread out to appear larger so they wouldn’t approach us. We were also told that should a bear approach us, we were to stand our ground, even if the bear charged us. Ominous words even if they were from guys who had over 300 hours of experience with the bears. Luckily, there was only one bear who got curious and came close enough to test the pilot/guide a little. He didn’t charge and responded appropriately to being “shooed” away.

I know you don’t want to see all 674 pictures I took today while watching the brown bears, but I’m tempted to post them all. We sat no more than 20-30 yards away from them (as many as 8 at one time) while they fed on the beached whale. The interaction was fascinating. There is quite a pecking order. The guides said that it was very unusual for this many bears to be feeding together as they are fairly alone animals. Even the guides kept saying how
View from where plane landedView from where plane landedView from where plane landed

You can see how close we were to bears and whale. We sat just at the edge of the meadow on the beach, probably 20-30 yards away.
big these bears were, the largest being close to 1900 pounds most likely.

After about 3 hours of watching bears, we took off from the rocky beach and went “flightseeing” over the area. The pilots told us that the volcano we were going to fly over had been a mountain peak last year. This year, the crater was filled with glacial water, opaque because of the glacier flour (minute bits dissolved in the water).

Back in Homer, Jim said he’d fished some at the Fishing Hole. Since a picture is worth 1000 words, the pictures posted will have to tell the story.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 23


Linda and the bearsLinda and the bears
Linda and the bears

At one time, there were 8 bears feeding or around the whale.
Closer and closerCloser and closer
Closer and closer

Curious bear gets closer!
Pilot/guide Doug at the readyPilot/guide Doug at the ready
Pilot/guide Doug at the ready

Note he has his flare ready, but simply shooing him away worked.
Digging inDigging in
Digging in

Standing on the whale attempting to get through the tough skin
Enjoying the treatEnjoying the treat
Enjoying the treat

Whale meat is such a treat compared to all the grass and berries!
Mouthful of whaleMouthful of whale
Mouthful of whale

Once the skin is ruptured, the real meat is devoured.
Another mouthfulAnother mouthful
Another mouthful

Enjoying every bite!
Cooling offCooling off
Cooling off

After a big meal, there's nothing better than a cool off and a nap
Loving my whale!Loving my whale!
Loving my whale!

A different bear comes in for his meal
Blowing bubblesBlowing bubbles
Blowing bubbles

Not sure why they do it, but while swimming, they blow bubbles!
Bear talk: get away from my whaleBear talk: get away from my whale
Bear talk: get away from my whale

Big bear chases away a slightly smaller bear
So cute and cuddlySo cute and cuddly
So cute and cuddly

White claws indicate that this bear is an older bear
Taking off from the rocky beachTaking off from the rocky beach
Taking off from the rocky beach

It was just a little bumpy!
Glacial moraineGlacial moraine
Glacial moraine

The foot of the glacier - the part that advances and recedes - filled with debris and dirt.
Glacial moraineGlacial moraine
Glacial moraine

This moraine feeds into a lake then into the bay. The color of the lake feeds that color into the clearer water of the bay.
Strange patternsStrange patterns
Strange patterns

Funny cracks in the glacier
Crater and lakeCrater and lake
Crater and lake

Volcano erupted last year and created this crater which has now filled with glacial water.

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