Spring Diversity in the Great Bear Rainforest
The scale and diversity of wildlife, weather, and scenery of the Great Bear Rainforest is incredibly vast. Each island, estuary, inlet, and river mouth offers distinguishing features and creatures, specific to each unique ecosystem.
We explore the different regions of the Grear Bear at different times of the year based on a range of ever-shifting variables. Climate and weather are always considerations on an expedition aboard the Passing Cloud and can determine where, whether, and how often we sail, go ashore, and certainly what kinds of animals can be spotted in a particular area based on migratory patterns and seasonal change. This can affect the water conditions for spring herring spawn, where and when bears will emerge from hibernation, and which species will be migrating through these waters.
Exploring the Great Bear Rainforest in the spring is a newer offer with Outer Shores. Our first early season visit was with Sierra Club BC in the spring of 2017 as an exploratory expedition to test the waters – we were blown away at not only the diversity of land and seascapes of the southern region, but the abundance of marine life. We loved the long spring days and the spectacular colours of wildflowers against a backdrop of dramatic snow-capped peaks – we had to go back.
We started planning new routes to explore with less distance travelled and more time in each area. We discovered that we needed a variety of expedition offerings to really delve into the many aspects of this area in the springtime. We’ve broken down the main differences between each of our Great Bear departures next spring. Find out which best suits your expedition hopes.
May 6-13: 8-days/7-nights
Bella Coola to Bella Coola
Departure Highlights: Hakai Institute, sea otters, killer whales, hot springs, dolphins, outer islands
As we depart the glacier-carved fjords and dramatic granite peaks of the Bella Coola Valley, we head for the white-sand beaches of the outer islands. Every spring, we’ve been amazed by the large pods of hundreds of Pacific white-sided dolphins that come here to feed on abundant forage fish. And, if we’re very lucky we might even encounter a super-pod with over 2,000 animals! We’ll keep our eyes out for returning migratory whales – humpbacks, fins, and greys, as well as the Northern Resident killer whales that are drawn to the region by the early-run Chinook salmon.
On our way to the outer islands we’re on the lookout for large rafts of sea otters that have repopulated this southern region. A highlight of this departure for guests and crew alike, is our visit to the Hakai Research Institute on Calvert Island where we’ll get an inside peek into the ongoing coastal research being conducted here. On the way back into the mainland fjords, we’ll stop for a soak in some of our favourite natural hot springs of the Central Coast and be on the lookout for spring bear viewing opportunities in coastal estuaries.
May 22-29: 8-days/7-nights
Bella Bella to Bella Bella
Departure Highlights: NEW Heiltsuk Gvákva’áus Haíłzaqv (House of the Haíłzaqv) Big House, Fjordland Conservancy, mainland estuaries, emerging spring grizzlies, Mussel Inlet, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Big House
We begin this departure in the Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella, where we’ll be greeted with a tour of the recently completed Gvákva’áus Haíłzaqv (House of the Haíłzaqv) Big House. We head north and begin to weave our way in and out of the biologically rich mainland estuaries of the Fjordland Conservancy, in search of emerging grizzly bears with their cubs-of-the-year coming out to feed on grasses and sedges.
As we sail into the deep fjords, lined by dramatic mountainous peaks, we’re very excited to visit a new region for Outer Shores known as Mussel Inlet, or Láiq, Special Management Area, protecting this critical grizzly bear habitat. Spring bears, both black bears and grizzlies, are a main focus for this departure, although we’re always on the lookout for coastal wolves foraging in the intertidal zone. As we make our way south again, we’ll visit the First Nation community of Klemtu in Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Territory for a visit of their Big House and learn about the iconic spirit bear that calls this region home.