by Polar Bear Guide Andy MacPherson with photos by guest Denae D’Arcy
Our first record bear day on Birds, Bears and Belugas started after having lunch down by the Seal River.
The mud was flying as we traversed the shoreline on our ATV tour to the mouth of the river. Once there, we enjoyed a spectacular lunch of tomato bisque and egg salad filling in a sundried tomato wrap, followed by espresso with lemon raspberry cupcakes.
Following lunch, we took a short walk to the shore of the river and soon saw a mother and COY (cub of the year). We realized as she walked by us that our coolers, containing the remains of our lunch, were being threatened by her interests. We discouraged that, so instead she decided to lie down in front of us to nurse her cub!
We backed off to see if we could find another bear and lo and behold, around the corner, a mother and two COYS had followed the tracks of the first bears! Mother was a big bear and her cubs looked healthy, but she soon wandered into the bushes and we lost sight of her.
We were again focused on the nursing Mom when another single bear surprised us from the bushes. We were surrounded, but the single bear backed off to the sound of Andy clapping his hands, entered the water and swam off to the north. Then the Mom and two cubs reappeared, looking off to the west, and we soon noticed that she had her eye on another big male bear that was moving with a calorie conserving gait.
As we were watching the big male, another smaller male passed by the bigger male and disappeared into the bushes. Now the second Mom with the two cubs settled down to nurse in front of us. She finished nursing and decided to lie down, but was looking behind her, scenting.
Soon the young male came out from behind the cabin and spooked her. He circled around past her and pushed her towards our group. We stood up and told her she couldn’t come any closer, and she trotted by us, looking over her shoulder and hissing at the male bear, who was by now chasing her, very excited and interested.
She would have none of that. She ran off into the water with her cubs and swam straight out, heading south. Andy admonished the other bear to leave her alone. The bear skidded to a stop and scented around her trail. He was wound up and decided our group looked more interesting. The guides discouraged him with their superior intellect and he eventually thought better of it and wandered off.
The big male who had witnessed all of this lifted his head at all the excitement and wandered in for a look of his own. While at a slow, purposeful gait, he checked us out and then settled down into a picturesque bed of yellow mastodon flowers alongside some seaside chamomile. At the same time, three other bears appeared, two of them running from a huge male across the river.
This brought our total bear count for the day to 11, and set a new record for polar bear sightings on a single day at Seal River Heritage Lodge this season!