Salmon, spirit bears and Ma’ah.

A spirit bear standing on a rock in the Great Bear Rainforest

This is Ma’ah. Her name means grandmother in the language of the local Tsimshian First Nations language. She is perhaps 18 years old, and she is a really special bear. Not only did Ma’ah appear on the cover of National Geographic for Paul Nicklen’s 2011 spirit bear story, but, somehow, being in her presence puts one at peace. It is a gift to spend time with her.

Lucky for her there was a good berry crop on the coast this year, because there were very, very few pink salmon in the river valley where she likes to fish each fall.  Salmon are such an important part of the ecosystems Ma’ah inhabits, it was very distressing to see so few fish return this season. But salmon numbers are known to fluctuate – sometimes drastically – over time.  And, Mother Nature can also be extremely resilient. So fingers crossed the salmon bounce back from this poor year. I’ve seen it happen before—and Ma’ah surely has too.

Now that the season is over and the bear watchers and guides have gone home, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever see Ma’ah again? She is slowing down, losing muscle mass and showing her age.  Like anybody who has been lucky enough to see her, I have my fingers crossed that this beautiful elder bear will make it through another winter.

4 thoughts on “Salmon, spirit bears and Ma’ah.”

  1. I hope this sweet old girl makes it through the winter. I would love for you to introduce us next year Tim.

  2. what a wonderful life you have! I Can feel your kindness and love for your bears and their habitat! Thank you for sharing that with us!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  3. Lovely Blog. Is she also known as “Honour” whom I was introduced to 2 years ago or is that a different bear?
    Thanks and Happy New Year

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