Introducing a Great Grizzly Mom

A further teaser from my recent trip to the Great Bear Rain Forest on Canada’s North West Pacific coast.  On a small estuarine inlet with a small river an meandering creeks and during the course of a very wet afternoon with torrential rain we found a number of grizzly bears scavenging salmon.  The highlight was a mother and three cubs who emerged and spent considerable time foraging and eating salmon followed by a berry desert.  

It’s quite unusual to see three cubs with a mother because that needs the mother to be very fit overwinter during her pregnancy and then able to support the family through the following months and indeed years.  It’s worth noting that grizzly’s are able to control their pregnancy both with the implantation of embryos and the ability to reabsorb them if they cannot be supported. Consequently, this mom must be experienced and good at her job.  Despite grizzly’s reputation for fierceness (and definitely deserving full respect) she was comfortable with out presence (on a small boat) even with her young cubs around.   

( Update 5 Oct: I’ve added a fuller gallery of this family with all three of the cubs and mom here.)   

Gear and settings.  Possibly the most challenging set from this trip.  Very low light and, for the beginning of the session at least rain plus backlighting. We finished early evening with almost no light. Consequently, ISO ranged from 3200 through 6400 and ended up on 12800.  I was surprisingly happy with the D500 plus 200-500mm f/5.6 performance here in what would rightly be the natural domain of a D5 plus 500mm f/4.