Clams are an important part of the grizzly bear diet on the coast of Alaska. Bears use their amazing sense of smell to locate clams under the sand. The extreme tidal variations in Alaska allow miles of the ocean floor to be uncovered at low tide – an excellent opportunity for clamming.
Archive for the Grizzly Bears Clamming Category
This grizzly bear female is delicately prying open a clam using her nails. Grizzly bears have different techniques for opening clam shells. Some crush the entire clam in their mouths, then spit out the shells (which reminds me of how humans eat sunflower seeds with the shell on). Other bears eat the whole clam shell. Others will twist apart the top shell from the bottom shell using the palm of their front paw.
Two adult grizzly bears choose to clam right next to each other. Coastal grizzlies in Alaska are much more social than inland grizzly bears. Often adult bears choose to spend time near one another. These bears, for example, could be clamming just as successfully far apart from one another. There are miles of empty mud flats in this bay where the clamming is great. Why did they choose however to clam side by side? I believe grizzlies are far more social than they are given credit for in scientific literature. On the Alaska coast I’ve witnessed countless adult bears enjoying each others company and playing for fun.
Like human children, grizzly bear cubs learn by imitating their mothers. Here, two grizzly bear cubs follow their mom as she is digging for clams. I realized that their mother was leaving small bits of the clams behind for the little cubs to discover and eat. This encouraged them to explore the holes left by their mom as she dug up at least 20-30 clams. The cubs had fun chewing on the clam shells which had meat stuck to them.
We named this subadult grizzly bear “Bobby” since he reminded me so much of an adult bear we call Bob. They both had the same funny, round, blond mickey mouse ears on the tops of their heads. Bobby is most likely four years old, and on his own for the first summer. Mother bears will drive away their cubs during their third or fourth year. He was a small little guy who liked to dig for clams along the river.