“Spirit Bear” – Coastal British Columbia, Canada – Iain Williams – Featured Photographer
I remember the first time I ever saw a photo of this beautiful bear was in National Geographic magazine several years ago. This photograph would have blended in well with the article. I can’t help but think of this spirit bear as being a wise old elder at the sacred fishing grounds. Iain does an amazing job of not only capturing the bear’s expression, but the fish as well. Please read the story and then visit Ian’s just as spectacular blog and website!
Here is Iain:
The Kermode Bear (Ursus americanus kermodei) is a sub species of the American Black Bear. It lives deep within the temperate rainforest in British Columbia, Canada and is often referred to as the Spirit Bear. The creamy-white coloring of the bear’s coat is not caused by albinism, but a recessive allele. It’s estimated that there are between 400-1000 individuals in the wild, the bear owing its survival to the indigenous people who featured the bear’s ghost-like appearance in their mythology and never hunted the bear or mentioned its existent to early fur trappers.
The photograph was taken along a creek line which is assessable only by live aboard boat and hiking. I timed my visit with the salmon spawning season as the bears come out of the rainforest to fish for salmon as the fish make their way upstream to spawn. It was raining heavily on the day I took this photograph and keeping the camera equipment dry was difficult. I placed myself at the forest edge adjacent to the junction of two streams and waited until the bears made their way downstream to fish. I used a sturdy tripod, Canon 500/f4.5 lens and a Canon EOS 1D MKIII camera. The available light was minimal due to overcast skies and rain necessitating an ISO of 400 at 1/250th at f4.5.
Interestingly, bears with white coats have a greater chance of catching fish than black bears. This is because the fish finds it difficult to see the bear’s white coloring.
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