2022—Threatening? No Way!

Looks can be deceiving. This young Kodiak Brown Bear was not growling or threatening in any way. He was actually trying to dislodge bits of shell and rock that had stuck in his teeth. The gyrations of his jaw were necessary to continue consuming the barnacles that he was feasting on. The process of eating barnacles requires the bear to scoop mouthfuls of barnacle-covered rocks and inevitably some of the gravel surrounding them and crush the small shells to extract the live barnacles inside. It’s amazing to watch because the barnacles are so small, most under a half inch in diameter. If you look closely at the rocks under the bear, the small round barnacles are visible, clinging to the rock surfaces. I do not know the nutritional value of a small barnacle but it must take an awful lot to sate a 500 pound bear. On a couple of occasions, we watched this guy and another bear that we dubbed Barnacle Bear for hours grazing along the shoreline. The expressions they conveyed during this process were fascinating and could be easily misconstrued if you didn’t see what was actually happening.