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Bear Tracking in Ketchikan

Today, we boarded a bus and then a small boat to take us to Neet’s Bay.   Bear tracking in Ketchikan is not difficult! There is a not-profit-salmon hatchery based there, which makes it good territory for bear tracking.

Keeping a plentiful supply of salmon going is very important to the isolated communities in this area, which is known as the salmon capital of Alaska. Apart from providing a good food source generally, there is money to be made from sport fishing, which is a popular pastime here.

Ketchikan
Ketchikan
Ketchikan Neet's Bay Alaska
Neet's Bay - Our Boat
Ketchikan Earphones for the commentary
Earphones for the commentary

We saw a large black bear almost immediately we arrived at the bay.  

Although the small boat was very close to the coast, the bear seemed totally not bothered by either us or the seagulls that at times surrounded him.  He was just interested in finding salmon.

It was between salmon runs and the silvers had not yet started, but there still seemed to be plenty of fish in the sea.

Ketchikan
Ketchikan Black bear ignoring the seagulls
Black bear ignoring the seagulls
Ketchikan Black Bear fishing for Alaskan Salmon
I'm coming for 'ya!
Ketchikan Black Bear fishing for Alaskan Salmon

The salmon jumped from time to time and I was fortunate enough to be able to capture this on video while the bear was feeding. They are huge creatures, but surprisingly agile and able to climb trees and run quickly as well as swim.   Most of the time though, they see to amble round slowly, looking for their next snack of berries or salmon.

In Summer, they are really a content eating machine – a bit like some of our fellow cruise passengers (!)

The bears were fascinating to watch and because they moved more slowly than some of the other wildlife we had seen so far on the trip, we could concentrate more on just watching them than trying to photograph them, which was welcome. They ate the salmon whole, spitting out the tail.
Ketchikan Black Bear Fishing for Salmon Alaska
Eat it whole - but leave the tail!

A couple of float plane expeditions annoyingly joined us at this point, drawn by the sighting of the bear. They soon left us to it after the first bear had been and gone though and Neet’s Bay soon returned to the calm and peaceful place it is meant to be as an atmospheric mist began to roll  in from the sea.

Ketchikan Intruding Floatplanes
Intruding Floatplanes
Ketchikan Mist rolling in from the sea
Mist rolling in from the sea
The weather began to clear and we saw seals and sea lions swimming in the bay – such beautiful colours. Then we spotted an eagle and managed to get a few shots of him in flight. The boat trip back was peaceful, admiring the mist gracefully draping itself over the forests lining the sea.
Kdetchikan Eagle
Eagle

The tour was arranged through Princess Cruises, but if you were travelling independently, you could enquire about booking it directly.