Last year in August , I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the most unique spectacles that nature has to offer.. It’s the sight of hundreds of brown bears gathering at a lake where the Salmons are rushing back to their original place of birth to spawn. This magic happens at Kurile Lake in Kamchatka which is located in the far east wilderness of Russia. From our electrically fenced lodge we could see the area at the far end of the lake where these bears congregated to catch the salmon
To get closer look we would walk from the lodge onto the beach about 800 metres to reach the place where we are located about 20 metres away from these bears. The backdrop is is phenomenally beautiful with mountains, volcanoes, clouds.
Various shapes and sizes of bears were seen playing, fighting, avidly splish splashing in search for salmons all around us almost as if one is watching a water polo match. The water seems to be boiling and basically the frothing appearance is because of thousands of salmons in that
What I want to focus here is on a few sets of mother and cubs in this congregation of brown bears and their interactions amongst themselves and around. On one hand they were extremely protective about their cubs wellbeing and on the other to feed themselves. The mother would be seen at times standing tall on her two feet to look out for salmons coming in. Bears apparently have poor eye sight and they rely on smell and to visualise they need to stand tall to be able to locate the moving salmons
At times another male would get closer to her cubs and she would go rushing at the male threatening him with all her vigour. You can see the cubs barely trying to hang on to their mothers back whilst she scares the male away
Every now and then the mother would dive in and grab a salmon to feast on
When mommy gets the salmon they are really excited and follow her to learn to play with the catch.
At times mommy leaves a salmon with the cubs and the strongest one would grab it and provoke the siblings to see if they wanna come and grab it from him
Often we would see the bears drying themselves once they got out of water. Almost seems as if they are spin drying themselves with a mist of spray all over them
There would be some really funny sights where the cubs are standing on their feet next to each other trying to catch the action and see if their mommy is gonna get them a salmon or not
Often we would see different pairs of mothers and cubs walking through the lake towards us with mommy keeping a watchful eye
We were fortunate enough to see a special feeding session where the mother lies down and the cubs start to suckle
The mother bear is tired with the days activies and is seen resting against the most beautiful backdrop of kurile lake whilst the cubs are playing
This photo evokes the special bond of a mother and cub almost as various lessons are being taught on growing up and facing the future