Spirit Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest
November 26, 2010 4:19 AM   Subscribe

The Kermode bear or Spirit bear is a an all white subspecies of the American Black Bear. Their white fur is the the result of a recessive allele and is believed to give them an advantage in daylight fishing for salmon, but places them at a significant disadvantage in areas inhabited by Grizzly bears or wolves, who prey on them.

One of their last strongholds is the Great Bear Rainforest. Recent plans for an oil pipeline between Alberta and the coast of British Columbia may threaten that habitat.

In response, environmental group Pacific Wild has partnered with the International League of Conservation Photographers to carry out a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE). The resulting photos and video of Spirit bears and the Great Bear Rainforest are spectactular.
posted by Ahab (13 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Ha, that video under the 'advantage' link is great.
posted by joost de vries at 4:26 AM on November 26, 2010

There's a rain forest in Canada? Who knew!?
posted by londonmark at 4:41 AM on November 26, 2010

Doh. Borked one of the links to the iLCP Spirit bear photos (though the Great Bear Rainforest stuff is still great). Here's a set from iLCP photographers on ABC with more pics of bears.
posted by Ahab at 4:46 AM on November 26, 2010

The gingers of the bear world, you say? I love them already!
posted by Mizu at 5:02 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Q. What did the Kermode bear say before he ate you alive?
A. I have a sense of your ending.
posted by Beardman at 5:33 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a rain forest in Canada?

Yep. It goes all the way from Alaska down to Northern California/Oregon. The redwoods in California are in the southern end of it. This ecology is one of the most productive, in terms of biomass, in the world. Several of the largest species of trees, the Redwood, the Sitka Spruce, the Douglas Fir are found only in this region. It gets a mind-boggling amount of rain, in some places exceeding 4 metres a year. The part of it discussed in the post is even called the Great Bear Rainforest.
posted by bonehead at 6:16 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]

There's a rain forest in Canada? Who knew!?

Temperate rainforest stretches along the west coast of North America from northern California to Kodiak Island in Alaska and goes a couple hundred miles inland at it's thickest point (in BC). Tall trees, lots of rain, coffee shops, Gore-Tex, Frasier, grunge music... it's not easy to miss.

An oil pipeline to Kitimat is safer and more environmentally sound than rail or highway transport, in my opinion. Rail and road access are already well established there, and a properly designed pipeline should have minimal impact.
I'm no fan of the tar sands or fossil fuel burning as an energy source, but the Pacific rim market isn't going away anytime soon, and it makes sense to make the best of a bad situation.
My main concern is lack of government/public regulation and oversight. The current provincial administration here tends to put pro-corporate ideology ahead of practicality. And no one wants to see another Exxon Valdez-type incident.
posted by Pseudonumb at 6:39 AM on November 26, 2010

I want to hear Kermode the Bear sing "It's not easy being white".
posted by Kabanos at 8:52 AM on November 26, 2010

I had a picture of one of those beautiful bears once. I did not know any thing about them until now! Thanks!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:39 AM on November 26, 2010

la morte, your Mark Kermode Bear definitely needs flappier paws.
posted by memewit at 11:49 AM on November 26, 2010

Locally, they're sometimes called glacier bears. There was a spirit bear seen locally for a while that head a lot of black coloring on it's snout. Also, there is a sub-species of brown-colored black bears called cinnamon bears so there is already a ginger of the black bear world.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:28 PM on November 26, 2010

A few years ago here in Victoria we had statues of Spirit Bears all over the city, I believe they were auctioned off for some charity, but they were all the same form which were painted and decorated (I remember one had a mosaic theme) by various artists.

The name (Kermode) actually comes from the former director of the museum here.
posted by addelburgh at 2:25 PM on November 26, 2010

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