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The elusive Kermode or “spirit bear” is endemic to the Great Bear Rainforest on B.C.’s west coast. It is a subspecies of the more common American black bear that, due to a recessive gene, has white or cream-coloured fur.
On this particular occasion, we followed this young male nicknamed “Mushroom”, while he was fishing along a small river. Once his belly full, he settled for a nap on a beautiful mossy log. Despite the fading evening light, we decided to approach.
From time to time he would open his eyes, glancing at us, but he never showed any sign of fear or anxiety. We got so close we could hear him breathing. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. • 📸 + ✍️: @daisygilardini at Great Bear Rainforest
The Great Bear Rainforest on Canada’s West Coast is the home of the elusive Kermode or Spirit Bear, a subspecies of the American black bear that, due to a recessive gene, has a white or cream-coloured fur that makes it unique.
At low tide, the bears stick close to the coastal tideline, where mussels and barnacles are to be found on rocks and dead trees are exposed to the elements. Kermode bears love snacking on shellfish, To the bear, it’s a little like snacking on beer nuts and pretzels during Happy Hour. • 📸 + ✍️: @daisygilardini at Great Bear Rainforest
Wapusk National Park is the world’s southernmost polar bear denning area. While during the day we are out looking for bears, the night brings magic to the sky. Science tells us that the Northern Lights appear when electrically charged particles from the sun collide with the Earth’s atmosphere
Mythology tells us even more interesting tales. In Finland it’s believed the lights are sparkles created by a running Arctic fox. In North America it’s believed that the aurora is the dance of animal and human spirits.
Whether one chooses to believe in science or mythology, witnessing the Northern Lights in person is both enchanting and mesmerizing. • 📸 & ✍️: @daisygilardini at Wapusk National Park
📸 + ✍️: @daisygilardini • We followed the tracks of this mother polar bear and her two cubs in our snow-van for hours, in outside temperatures that dipped to -50C at times.
Finally, struggling through an almost total white-out, we spotted the mother resting close to a few willows. She was a bit nervous at first, because of our presence. She calmed down, though, when her two cubs started playing among the red leaves of the willows.
Once a photo shoot starts, one must leave the comfort of a heated van and are exposed to the same extreme elements as the bears themselves.
This kind of cold — mind-numbing and soul-penetrating — is hard to describe. Every inch of one’s skin must be covered and protected, in order to avoid frostbite. Breathing can only be done through a mask, otherwise you risk your lungs collapsing and every hair in your nose freezing solid. The only word I’ve found that even comes close to conveying the discomfort of such temperatures is “unBEARable “ — forgive the pun — as it’s the kind of cold that only one species of bear on planet Earth has evolved to survive. at Wapusk National Park
📸 + ✍️: @daisygilardini • A remarkable event happens in Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada, every year, in March and April. Polar bears who entered “maternity dens” the previous October and gave birth in November are ready to leave their dens for the first time, their nowfour-month-old cubs in tow.
The timing coincides with the annual seal birthing season on the pack ice in Hudson’s Bay — easy food for the polar bears.
It’s extremely rare to witness the exit of the bears from their dens and one has to face incredibly challenging conditions. Temperatures can drop as low as -54C. Winds will gust up to 60 kms (38 miles) an hour.
That effort is well rewarded, though, if you’re able to witness the most iconic animal of the Arctic kingdom in such close proximity, at its most intimate moments.
This mama bear was headed toward the pack ice to hunt, when she decided to take a break along the way, cubs at her side. Mother and cubs seemed relaxed and at ease with our presence. The cubs snuggled together and cuddled, totally ignoring us. The moment I pressed the shutter release, my heart started to beat wildly. I knew I had something special. I’d been photographing polar bears since 2008, and I‘d never seen anything quite like it, before or since. at Wapusk National Park
📸 + ✍️: @daisygilardini • In this particular episode a mother was resting with her two young cubs in a day den on her way to the pack ice to hunt. Day dens tend to be in wind-protected areas, where snowdrifts and trees form a natural shelter.
Mama bear remained calm as our vehicle approached the location giving us the opportunity to photograph both her and the cubs for several hours before she suddenly decided it was time to leave.
She flopped downhill in deep snow when one of her two cubs decided it was more convenient to hitch a ride on mama’s behind. The cub jumped up and held on with a firm bite on mama’s furry backside — a charming and totally unexpected behaviour.
Wildlife photography is all about patience and perseverance. Despite the challenging conditions and long hours waiting for something to happen, the experience of witnessing something so rare is beyond price. #sharecangeo #explorecanada #takeover at Canada
📸 + ✍️: @daisygilardini • Pregnant polar bears enter their maternity dens in November and fast for anywhere from four to eight months, neither eating nor drinking. Their sole purpose is to provide for their cubs. Cubs are born in December. They measure 30 to 35 cm (12 to 14 inches) at birth and weigh little more than half a kg, or one pound. They grow quickly, nourished by the richness of their mother’s milk (36 percent fat) and are ready to exit their den by early spring, in March or April. The mother will continue to nurse the cubs for at least a year and a half. The cubs will stay with their mother until they reach the age of two and a half to three years old. #sharecangeo #instagramtakeover #polarbear at Canada
📸 and ✍️: @daisygilardini • Two young males spar on the coast of Hudson’s Bay in Manitoba. Polar bears are normally solitary, but in November each year they congregate around this area, waiting for the water to freeze and form pack ice thick enough to support their weight, so they can hunt for seals.
Play-fighting during this period is normal behaviour. It serves as practice for the more serious standoffs during mating season. at Manitoba
📸 and ✍️ from our new Photographer-in-Residence @daisygilardini: The Northern Lights are triggered by sun storms. They form when electrically charged energy particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. Quite aside from the scientific explanation, the Lights themselves are enchanting to watch. at Canada
Today we announced our new Photographer-in-Residence, @daisygilardini. In celebration, Daisy will be taking over @cangeo and @cangeotravel, sharing photos from Canada and abroad. • 📸 and ✍️ by @daisygilardini: The Kermode bear is one of the rarest bears in the world. Due to a unique recessive gene, this subspecies of the American black bear has white or cream-coloured fur.
No more than 400 to 1,000 individuals are believed to remain. They’re unique to the Great Bear Rainforest, a 400 km (250 mile) corridor of temperate rain forest along Canada’s west coast.
This unique ecosystem, where everything is interdependent, needs protection. Salmon are the natural link that connects the forest to the ocean, through their cyclical spawning seasons. Bears will catch a fish and then drag it into the forest to eat. Birds and other mammals feed on the remains. Marine nutrients, together with the bear’s droppings, help fertilize the forest soil.
As conservation photographers it is our duty to capture the beauty of places and species at risk, and raise awareness trough the universal power of the images we capture. at Great Bear Rainforest
The final photo from @paulzizkaphoto’s @cangeo takeover. Click over to @cangeotravel to see his final travel shots! at Banff, Alberta
😱 • Photo taken by @paulzizkaphoto in Banff, Alberta. at Banff, Alberta
Hard at work. • 📸: @paulzizkaphoto at Athabasca Glacier
Meanwhile, in Banff. 🙄 • Only three shots left in @paulzizkaphoto’s Instagram takeover. Stay tuned! at Banff, Alberta
One more shot from Two Jack Lake in @travelalberta, photo 11/15 by @paulzizkaphoto. #explorecanada #explorealberta at Two Jack Lake
This is backcountry. • 📸: @paulzizkaphoto at Banff National Park
The good ol’ hockey game. 🏒 • Photo 9/15 taken by @paulzizkaphoto in @travelalberta. #explorealberta #sharecangeo at Vermilion Lakes
That moment when the aurora lights up the night sky. • Photo 8/15 by @paulzizkaphoto. #explorealberta #explorecanada at Vermilion Lakes
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