The west coast of Canada and Alaska is one of the world’s last sanctuaries for the brown bear, or grizzly bear. Bear cruise tours make an ideal platform for visiting these areas, with experienced guides, and access to these watery fjords, we are able to view the bears in a sustainable manner that is healthy to the bears and their important habitat.
- British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest encompasses 6.4 million hectares of temperate coastal rainforest. This rare intact ecosystem makes up one quarter of the worlds temperate rainforest, thus providing a haven for coastal grizzly bears. Within these valleys, fjords, forests, and estuaries is a grizzly bear population larger and more dense than anywhere else in Canada.
- Alaska’s Tongass National Forest covers most of southeast Alaska and has one of the highest densities of brown bears in the world. Tongass contains an interesting subspecies of brown bears on Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof Islands that are more closely related to polar bears than other Alaskan brown bears. It is thought that polar bears were stranded on these islands after the last ice age and gradually morphed into brown bears through millenia of mating with the brown bear population.
Early spring and summer are times of foraging. During a bear cruise groups will take shore trips to estuaries where grizzlies can be found digging in the tall green sedges, the roots of which provide an important protein to their diet. Watch carefully as the sedges grow tall and can at times hide a napping bear! Berries, rice root, and sedges are just some of the foods these coastal bears find throughout the early season. These delights will satisfy the bears throughout the summer until the salmon return.
- In Alaska, this season lasts for May and June.
- In British Columbia, this season lasts for May, June, July and part of August.
While mainly solitary animals, coastal grizzlies display amazing interactions during gathering events throughout the fall salmon runs. Each year as salmon return to their natal streams to spawn, grizzlies on the coast of BC come out of the forest and into the estuaries to feed on the plenty. This occurs every season from late summer into the fall and is a crucial time for the bears as they build up their fat reserves
before winter hibernation. Tours to see these foraging bears are led by our crew who are certified bear viewing guides.
- In Alaska, this season lasts for July and August and into early September.
- In British Columbia, this season lasts from mid-August until November.
Our Bear Viewing Trips
Throughout our tours in the Great Bear Rainforest and Alaska, we are able to witness these amazing wild life events and see how grizzly bears play a crucial ecological role within the temperate rainforest and estuary. From digging for roots which aerates the soil and promotes new growth, to feeding on salmon which bring nutrient rich carcasses onto the land and into the forest, we are able to observe it all by visiting the area each spring, summer, and fall.
On each bear cruise knowledgeable crew will lead you by zodiac and by foot into estuaries where you can safely view these calm bears together as a group. A skilled naturalist will accompany you as you explore these intimate bear habitats, providing insightful interpretation and a resource for all your questions.