Alaska – Clamming it up with the Bears
The Bears of Hallo Bay have two pretty good options for plentiful food – the grasses of the meadows and the clams in the tidal flats. It was really interesting to watch the Bears at low tide on the flats find and eat the clams. They kind of wander around sniffing the ground, find a promising spot, and dig a hole with a swipe or two of their powerful claws to get to the clam. It was very unusual to see any of them dig a hole that didn’t contain a clam. It was also interesting that each of the Bears seemed to have their own method for opening and eating the clam. This one would put the clam on the back of one of its paws and then open it with its jaws – others had different methods.
As in the meadows our approach to the bears was to stake out an unthreatening position (kneeling with lots of room for the bear to move around us) and let them determine how comfortable they are with our presence. We had a great view of them and they had an equal view of us as there was no foliage or cover out on the flats. In general we found them to be very comfortable with us and more times than not, they approached our positions pretty closely before moving on about their business. It was a very exciting (but not frightening) experience to have them approach, cast a glance our way, and then continue the feeding ritual. This photo gives a pretty typical view of what it looked like as they approached our positions – pretty cool, huh?