24 Aug 2019

Kamchatka Brown Bears and Cubs at Tintikun Lagoon

Jewel of the Russian Far East

As we approach Bukhta Lavrova we're excited to see eight Kamchatka Brown Bears roaming the shoreline and hills of the fiords. The foggy weather lends a mysterious atmosphere as the mountains' peaks disappear into the clouds. Next to an abandoned fish factory we encounter an adult Steller's Sea-eagle, the heaviest species among the eagles and only found between Kamchatka and Hokkaido, which keeps a watchful eye over our passage. As we continue to cruise along the shoreline we spot two Brown bears so engrossed in feasting on berries and pine nuts they don't even know we're here. In the water, a grey outline appears, then quickly disappears below the surface. After turning off our engines we are surrounded by around 100 curious Largha/Spotted Seals. The animals are as intrigued by us as we are of them, and we spend a delightful moment watching them popping their heads out the water all around the ship to check us out.

The afternoon sees us landing at, and exploring the shore of, Tintikun Lagoon. There is strong evidence of bear activity all around us as we marvel at the size of their paw prints. Returning to the Zodiacs and cruising along the shoreline we notice a brown dot in the distance. Closer inspection reveals it's a female with three cubs and, unbothered by our presence approach us. For the next half hour we are treated to a magical encounter watching the female eat salmon on the shore as one of her cubs licks her face and the other two play in the bushes and practice standing on their hind legs. It's a rare encounter that leaves us speechless and with smiles all round. Not long after, on the other side of the lagoon, we are approached by another female bear and too larger cubs as they amble by searching the shoreline and bringing the number of bears spotted today to 14 - what a day!

Image (c) S.Blanc, Heritage Expeditions

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