August 12, 2008

The weather report had predicted a storm overnight, but it blew by further out to sea. As the morning dawned, the bay as flat as glass, I was the first person up on deck to capture Kukak bay in the morning light. Again our little group of seven donned our hip waders and headed out in the skiff for the mouth of the river where the bears often feed. We didnt need to go far from the landing zone to find several males fishing. By now I was also getting more adept at crossing fast moving streams in the hip waders and not slipping on the slimy rocks. My best motivation was in trying to make sure my two camers stayed semi-dry. Often we crossed the rivers in pairs, holding hands, in case someone slipped. I should mention that the landscape scenery around Kukak Inlet is gorgeous. There are rock bluffs covered in wildflowers and glaciers hanging above us. There are also four active volcanoes in the immediate area, and the hills are shadowed with ash from past eruptions. The bears could not have chosen a more picturesque area. Our favorite bear character of the day was a young healthy male with a very light blonde patch of long hair around his ears and neck. We named him ‘Beach Boy’ and watched him in action for quite some time as he ran after the fish and pounced on them with his paws. It was a formidable sight! Just as we were about to leave for the day Pythagoras and Beach Boy crossed paths farther out on the flats. news36Apparently Beach Boy did not perform the appropriate reverential posture as he passed the older more dominant bear and the two ended up in a terrible battle. Both bears stood on hind legs and battled ferociously and eventually the older bear prevailed, body slamming the younger one to the ground and pinning him. The young bear was quite injured and unable to move for some time. Old Pythagoras sauntered off, leaving his injured victim to lick his wounds. Eventually Beach Boy got up and hobbled away limping badly on his left hind leg. We hoped the injury was not serious, as he would quickly become prey for stronger bears if he became disabled. We left the beach and headed back on the skiff with mixed emotions about the events we had seen.


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