The Alaska Series (Bears and more)
Hi Everyone! We are finally back from the incredible place that is Alaska. There are lots of stories to tell but I’ll get to all of them as I post photos from the places we went. But before we get to that I wanted to use this first post to talk about the reason we went there – to photograph the Brown Bear. Alaska has the vast majority of Brown Bears in the US although there are significant populations within the Rockies also. Brown Bears are also commonly known as Grizzly Bears but the Grizzly is actually a subspecies of the Brown Bear family that is used to describe the bears that live inland. The Bears that we were visiting were Coastal Brown Bears in an area called Hallo Bay. The coastal brown bear is primarily differentiated from the grizzly by their size – where an adult grizzly may be as little as 200 lbs, the adult coastal brown bear can reach as much 1500 lbs. The explanation for the size difference is the diets these bears eat in their respective habitats – the coastal bears have the benefit of the salmon to provide a diet rich in protein. As you’ll see during the upcoming posts the coastal bears also dine heavily on the coastal sedge grasses and on clams.
I chose these first photos to give you a close up look at the Bears. The first photo is of a female bear and gives you a nice close-up of their face. Bears this time of year still have much of their winter coat of guard hairs so they look very full and well nourished. I am always struck by their eyes and wonder what they are thinking – especially about these gangly two legged creatures that are invading their territory. While they cast you the occasional curious look, they are very busy grazing and stocking up on food and don’t pay us too much attention. That being said, they are obviously interested and if you sit there quietly, they will often pass close by you just to “check you out”. Speaking of which – you can click on the photos to get a much closer view of these fascinating creatures!
The next photo is of a male bear and is intended to give you a full body view of the bear. As you can see in this and other photos to come one of the defining features are the large protruding claws. While black bear claws are kind of small and not very visible, the brown bear claws are always in view and are definitely imposing. Before someone asks, you cannot tell the sex of the bears by their color – both sexes can be either light or dark. The best way to tell the sexes is to observe how the bears urinate – front “firing”= male.
Thats it for this morning. I hope you enjoyed the intro to the Brown Bears. There is ALOT more to share. Tomorrow’s post will be about camping in Brown Bear territory and a little about OUR environment for the week…..