Dean M. Chriss
Grizzly on Holiday
(Click image to enlarge)
This grizzly bear
is swimming across a glacial stream. The water is an
iridescent green-blue color due to glacial silt, often called "rock flour", suspended in it. This
rock flour consists of very
fine particles of rock generated by mechanical grinding of bedrock by the glacier.
The scene looks idyllic but the water is always very cold. It is unlikely that
the large grizzly is swimming here for enjoyment. Unfortunately for him, a
frigid swim is the only way to get to the other side.
Adult male grizzly bears in this part
of Alaska usually weigh 600 to 800 pounds while females weigh
about 350 to 450 pounds. Grizzly bears are most easily identified by the large hump of muscle above
their front shoulders. Grizzlies are known to dig more than
any other bear species, and those muscles give them the strength to do it.
Their claws, which can be 4 inches in length, also help with digging.
Grizzly bears are omnivores and their diet varies greatly with location. In
areas where fish and meat are less plentiful over 75% of their diet can
consist of berries, leaves and nuts.