Photo Essay: Exploring the Great Bear Wild

“Through breathtaking photographs and moving prose, McAllister’s Great Bear Wild presents a compelling case for the urgent need to protect, in perpetuity, one of the most magnificent ecosystems on the planet—the increasingly threatened Great Bear Rainforest.” –Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace

Great Bear Wild combines more than one hundred full-color photographs of the astonishing biodiversity of the Great Bear Rainforest with essays that illustrate the  threats that climate change, oil pipelines, and resource extraction pose to the region. Author and photographer Ian McAllister has dedicated his life to documenting and preserving this remote ecosystem and cofounded the organization Pacific Wild to support his efforts. Read more about McAllister’s conservation activism in this Q&A. In the meantime, we invite you to take a visual tour through the stunningly beautiful world of the Great Bear Rainforest and to meet the animals and sea creatures who inhabit it.

1. Spirit bears remain an iconic symbol of the fragility and uncertainty facing Canada’s northern rainforest.

Photo by Ian McAllister.

2. A marine mammal-eating Bigg’s killer whale circles a sea lion hangout hoping to surprise its prey. Capable of a century-long life span, these whales cannot afford to lose an eye to a seal or sea lion, so prefer to attack quietly and by surprise to avoid risk of injury.

McAllister_pg 147

Photo by Ian McAllister.

3. Anemones, starfish, and kelp. A strong tidal current, nutrient-rich, and pollution-free waters make the BC north coast one of the best dive locations in the world.

McAllister_pg 122

Photo by Ian McAllister.

4. Curious, gregarious, and agile, Steller’s sea lions are making a remarkable return to BC waters after decades of government-sponsored kill programs. Before they were protected in the 1970’s their numbers were reduced to one-quarter of their historic population.

Anemones, starfish, and kelp. A strong tidal current and nutrient-rich and pollution-free waters make the BC north coast one of the best dive location in the world.

Photo by Ian McAllister.

5. A mother bear successfully catches a coho salmon while her cubs encourage her from above. Salmon may be the reason for the spirit bear’s evolutionary adaptation of a white coat, as it acts as camouflage against a bright sky.

McAllister_pg 37

Photo by Ian McAllister.

6. Sea wolves live almost exclusively on deer and what the ocean provides, unlike wolves closer to the mainland, who have access to mountain goats, deer, moose, and beaver. These wolves are eating herring eggs at low tide.

Sea wolves live almost exclusively on deer and what the ocean provides, unlike wolves closer to the mainland, who have access to mountain goats, deer, moose, and beaver. These wolves are eating herring eggs at low tide.

Photo by Ian McAllister.

7. Steller’s sea lions move effortlessly through the offshore kelp forest.

McAllister_pg 135

Photo by Ian McAllister.

8. Princess Royal Island. The interface of ocean and rainforest define the ecological richness of the Great Bear Rainforest. The sunflower sea star is the largest of its type in the world.

McAllister_pg 17

Photo by Ian McAllister.

9. A waterfall drops into a vast stretch of rainforest near Dean Channel.

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Photo by Ian McAllister.

10. Until there is a legislated ban on tankers in the Great Bear Rainforest, the future of this coastal paradise remains uncertain.

McAllister_pg 179

Photo by Ian McAllister.

Ian McAllister is a cofounder of the wildlife conservation organization Pacific Wild and an award-winning photographer and author of The Last Wild Wolves. Time magazine named him one of the Leaders of the 21st Century. Great Bear Wild is available for purchase from the University of Washington Press website or anywhere books are sold.

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