Where Great Bears Reign

Photo credit: Brodie Guy -  www.brodieguy.com

Photo credit: Brodie Guy - www.brodieguy.com

Situated in northwest British Columbia in Canada, the Great Bear Rainforest is the subject of a new IMAX movie that’s being released this month. Shot over three years, it offers up a glimpse of true wilderness that just a small number of people will ever see in their lifetime.

Covering an area of 15.8 million acres, the Great Bear Rainforest is in a remote region that is inaccessible by land; you can only get there by air or sea. Yet, for the three reigning bear species that live there, it's the perfect place to be.

With few humans around, rugged and photogenic grizzlies thrive in this wild environment where there is plenty of salmon in the rivers and protein-rich sedge grass to feed on in the estuaries.

Recognized for its untouched, pristine beauty, this temperate rainforest is also the domain of the rare white bear. Pale and ghostly in appearance, they are a sacred animal of the forest and known as spirit bears, moskgm'ol, Kermode or ghosts bears.

They are closely related to black bears and have a special genetic trait that makes one in every ten bears white or cream coloured. Spirit bears are legally protected and survive in remote solitude among the green mosses and lush conifers growing by the sea.

Black bears are also residents of the Great Bear Rainforest and are valued by Coastal First Nations, including the Kitasoo/Xai'xais, Gitga'at and Heiltsuk. Embodied in their art, stories and way of life, respect has always been given to these impressive animals that dwell in their surroundings.

Along with narration by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, these bears have their own major roles in the upcoming film. They themselves are the reason the Great Bear Rainforest is great. Continuing to take care of it is our gift to the Earth's future.

Angela Gnyp