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Fishing with Spirit Bears

There's something slightly impersonal about a rod and a reel after watching bears fish for salmon.

By April BenczePublished 3 years ago 3 min read

Supported ByUntamed Photographer


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Story Behind the Photograph: Fishing with Spirit Bears

There's something slightly impersonal about a rod and a reel after watching bears fish for salmon. Long claws, sharp teeth, and a quickness you would not assume from a bear slowly meandering their way up a river. The dance of predator and prey awakens something primal in us, oft dormant in those born to a city. The relationship between life and death; raw and integral in reminding us of the interconnectedness of all things.

Watching bears fish for salmon has shattered my delusion of independence. It has irrevocably awakened me to the interdependence I share with the planet, and especially with the plants and animals I rely on to nourish my body.

In this particular salmon river, there are bears with white fur and pink noses who fish for salmon in Gitga’at First Nation territory on the west coast of North America. I watched this bear, face scarred from a life lived in earnest, leap onto this fish. In a flurry of motion, the bear and the salmon both emerged from the river, one in the jaws of the other.

This white-coated subspecies of black bear is culturally significant to the Gitga’at people who have been in relationship with this land for thousands and thousands of years. A rare recessive gene gives the bears the white fur that sets them apart from their black-coated kin. So, at this same river, one could see a black bear with a white cub, or vice-versa.

There are only a few hundred white bears, or Spirit bears, walking about and catching fish, who exist in the world. It is an honour to be in the presence of any bear, and I count myself fortunate to be given an opportunity to spend an afternoon watching this Spirit bear fish for salmon.

About Untamed Photographer

Untamed Photographer is an online art gallery that brings together wildlife photography and stories from a range of international environmental artists, both emerging and established.

Structured as an online marketplace, Untamed Photographer offers a selection of handpicked, limited-edition works of art, alongside the photographers’ compelling stories of what occurred in the wild to get the shot. The exclusive limited-edition pieces are printed in Miami and come with an artist-signed certificate of authenticity from their respective worldwide locations.

The Nature Trust of the Americas (NTOTA) was founded with the mission to give back. While building awareness for NTOTA’s causes, the founders met talented nature photographers who are passionate not only about photography, but also about saving the planet. Their life’s work and stories are inspiring, and their art, passion and stories deserve to be shared on a platform that benefits the environmental causes they are dedicated to.

Just as the photographers preserve the beauty of the planet in their art, Untamed Photographer is dedicated to preserving the planet for the future. All profits from photographs go to Untamed Photographer's two pillars: the artists and causes that protect the environment, ecosystems, and wildlife.

About the Photographer: April Bencze

April Bencze engages in wildlife conservation work through visual storytelling, writing, and collaborative projects that center the dynamic relationships between people, wildlife, and place.

She is dedicated to the coastal ecosystems and communities that she lives within and is supported by; April was raised in Wei Wai Kum First Nation territory (Campbell River) and now lives in Ḵwiḵwa̱sut'inux̱w Ha̱xwa'mis First Nation territory (Gilford Island).

April works as a creekwalker, monitoring salmon populations and habitat with a local non-profit. As a result, salmon are a focus of April's work and life.

April is a lover of plants, the interconnectedness of all things, and the woods.


About the Creator

April Bencze

Ḵwiḵwa̱sut'inux̱w Ha̱xwa'mis First Nation territory (Gilford Island, BC, Canada). Creekwalker. Writer. A lover of plants, rivers, the interconnectedness of all things, and the woods.


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