September 2010
projects
Great Bear Rainforest RAVE
2010

The Scoop

The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) has teamed up with Pacific Wild, Sierra Club BC and the Gitga’at First Nation to bring images from the Great Bear Rainforest to communities across Canada.  We continue to focus on sharing the beautiful imagery captured during the 2010 Great Bear Rainforest RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition) as a way to raise awareness about all that would be threatened by Enbridge Inc’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline and tankers project.

The proposed project would see an 1,100 km (680 mi) twin pipeline built between Burdenheim, Alberta and Kitimat BC, crossing hundreds of salmon bearing streams—the lifeline and staple diet of many northern people’s—and introducing more than 200 oil tankers per year to BC’s pristine North Coast.  The Northern Gateway Pipeline project would lead to rapid expansion of the tar sands, threatening Canada’s Boreal forest and Athabasca River by increasing demand for what has been coined the dirtiest oil on earth.  The construction of the pipeline and inherent risks associated with a potential spill threaten over 600 freshwater systems, many of which are the heart of BC’s salmon culture.  At it’s destination point, in Kitimat BC, the pipeline would funnel crude bitumen into super tankers that would then navigate BC's rough and dangerous waters bound for Asian markets.

 

The 14-day expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest brought 7 world-renowned photographers and 3 videographers to thoroughly document the region’s landscapes, wildlife, and culture. The RAVE continues to provide media support to the First Nations and environmental groups seeking to stop the proposed Enbridge Gateway pipeline and tankers project (and thus expansion of the tar sands) and to expose the plan to lift British Columbia’s oil tanker ship moratorium.

 

Original supporters of the Great Bear RAVE include Pacific WILD, the Gitga’at First Nation of British Columbia, LightHawk, TidesCanada, Save our Seas Foundation, Sierra Club BC, and the Dogwood Initiative.

 

 

Photographers

Guest Photographers:

Pat Freeny, and Marven Robinson

Partners

Affiliates

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  • GBR Exhibit Opening at Canoe Brewpub
    Video
  • Great Bear Rainforest - Oil Pipeline Threat
    Video
  • SPOIL
    Video
  • Paul Nicklen: TED talk 2011

  • Sierra Club BC RAVE Scoop
    Video
  • Scouting Mission: Great Bear Rainforest RAVE
    Video
  • Enbridge Pipeline: iLCP Focus on Great Bear Rainforest
    Video
  • SPOIL Trailer : Great Bear Rainforest RAVE
    Video
  • Great Bear Rainforest RAVE
    Video
  • Great Bear Rainforest RAVE: Q&A with Norm Hann
    Video
  • Oil in Eden: The Battle to Protect Canada's Pacific Coast
    Video

GBR Exhibit Opening at Canoe Brewpub

by Sierra Club BC


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Great Bear Rainforest - Oil Pipeline Threat

by Save Our Seas Foundation


Thomas P. Peschak takes us behind the scenes of his latest expedition to document the seascape of the Great Bear Rainforest.

SOSF Chief Photographer and iLCP Fellow Thomas P. Peschak takes us behind the scenes of his latest expedition to document the seascape of the Great Bear Rainforest. This pristine environment is under threat from a proposed oil pipeline.

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SPOIL

by EP Films and iLCP


Will the Great bear Rainforest RAVE team find a spirit bear?

iLCP teamed up with EP FIlms to create a documentary that tells the story of the threats facing the Great Bear Rainforest and the continued efforts of  the First Nations communities and conservations groups to protect this wild landscape.

About the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE

The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) has teamed up with Pacific WILD, the Gitga’at First Nation of British Columbia, LightHawk, TidesCanada, Save our Seas Foundation, Sierra Club BC, and the Dogwood initiative to carry out a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE) in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. We are focusing our energy and cameras on this pristine region in response to plans by several large multinational companies to build a pipeline for heavy crude oil from the Alberta tar sands across British Columbia to the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest.

The tar sands in northern Alberta are arguably one of the world’s most environmentally-devastating extractive industries and the proposed pipeline would put one of our planet’s most ecologically-sensitive and intact marine ecosystems at risk for a catastrophic oil spill through increased mega tanker traffic.

The 14-day expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest called upon 7 world-renowned photographers and 3 videographers to thoroughly document the region’s landscapes, wildlife, and culture. The RAVE provided media support to the First Nations and environmental groups seeking to stop the proposed Enbridge Gateway pipeline project (and thus expansion of the tar sands) and to expose the plan to lift the oil tanker ship moratorium.

News and Updates on the film

SPOIL premiered at Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City California January 2011

Awards

Best Environmental Film, Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

Nominated for the Telluride Mountainfilm 2011 Moving Mountains Award

Best Long Film Award at the Coastal Film Festival judged by First Nation Youth

Merit Award for Musical Selection, Best of Craft, Best Photography, Best Environmental Film (Category Winner)at CINE 2011

Best Environmental Film,  Artivist Film Festival 2011

Best Human Interest award, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival 2011

For most recent news and updates check the SPOIL Facebook page here!

 

Spoil Promote Your Page Too

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Paul Nicklen: TED talk 2011

by TED


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Sierra Club BC RAVE Scoop

by Sierra Club BC


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Scouting Mission: Great Bear Rainforest RAVE

by iLCP


Cristina speaks for a threatened landscape and way of life.

Having Just returned from the June scouting trip for the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE, Cristina Speaks for a threatened landscape and way of life.

Large tankers plan to travel through fragile ecosystems on the BC coast in the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR). While a major oil spill is a leading concern, just the presence of these tankers disrupts the ecosystem on which the First Nations rely as well as many species which call the GBR home.

Photography: Cristina Mittermeier Video: Jenny Nichols

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Enbridge Pipeline: iLCP Focus on Great Bear Rainforest

by Common Sense Canadian


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SPOIL Trailer : Great Bear Rainforest RAVE

by EP Films and iLCP Multimedia


The trailer to SPOIL, the film produced in partnership with EP Films. This film is one of the outcomes for the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE.

The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) has teamed up with Pacific WILD, the Gitga’at First Nation of British Columbia, LightHawk, TidesCanada, Save our Seas Foundation, Sierra Club BC, and the Dogwood initiative to carry out a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE) in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. We are focusing our energy and cameras on this pristine region in response to plans by several large multinational companies to build a pipeline for heavy crude oil from the Alberta tar sands across British Columbia to the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest.

The tar sands in northern Alberta are arguably one of the world’s most environmentally-devastating extractive industries and the proposed pipeline would put one of our planet’s most ecologically-sensitive and intact marine ecosystems at risk for a catastrophic oil spill through increased mega tanker traffic.

The 14-day expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest called upon 7 world-renowned photographers and 3 videographers to thoroughly document the region’s landscapes, wildlife, and culture. The RAVE provided media support to the First Nations and environmental groups seeking to stop the proposed Enbridge Gateway pipeline project (and thus expansion of the tar sands) and to expose the plan to lift the oil tanker ship moratorium.

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Great Bear Rainforest RAVE

by iLCP Multimedia Jenny Nichols


The Multimedia produced for the press conference for the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE in Vancouver October 16, 2010.

The Multimedia produced for the press conference for the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE in Vancouver October 16, 2010.

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Great Bear Rainforest RAVE: Q&A with Norm Hann

by iLCP Multimedia, Jenny Nichols


Norm has been an amazing liaison between the RAVE expedition and the community of Hartley Bay. Many thanks Norm!

Q&A with Norm Hann

Norm first came to The Great Bear Rainforest through King Pacific Lodge where he worked as a guide. He has since been living with the Gitga'at First Nations community in Hartley Bay off and on for the last ten years. Working within the community coaching, teaching and participating in student mentor programs. through his involvement with the Gitga'at community, Norm found inspiration to engage in the struggle against Enbridge, the twin pipelines and oil super tankers in the pristine waterways of the Great Bear Rainforest.

This past May, Norm completed a standup paddle board journey from Kitimat to Hartley Bay to raise awareness of the oil super tanker route. He chose May so as to coincide with the annual salmon runs.

Norm has been an amazing liaison between the RAVE expedition and the community of Hartley Bay. Many thanks Norm!

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Oil in Eden: The Battle to Protect Canada's Pacific Coast

by Pacific Wild


It's one of the last bastions of Canadian wilderness: the Great Bear Rainforest, on BC's north and central Pacific coast. Home to diverse marine mammals, fish, and wildlife - from Orca and humpback whales to wild salmon, wolves, grizzlies, and the legendary spirit bear - this spectacular place is now threatened by a proposal from Enbridge to bring an oil pipeline and supertankers to this fragile and rugged coast.

It's one of the last bastions of Canadian wilderness: the Great Bear Rainforest, on BC's north and central Pacific coast. Home to diverse marine mammals, fish, and wildlife - from Orca and humpback whales to wild salmon, wolves, grizzlies, and the legendary spirit bear - this spectacular place is now threatened by a proposal from Enbridge to bring an oil pipeline and supertankers to this fragile and rugged coast.

The plan is to pump over half a million barrels a day of unrefined bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands over the Rockies, through the heartland of BC - crossing a thousand rivers and streams in the process - to the Port of Kitimat, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. From there, supertankers would ply the rough and dangerous waters of the BC coast en route to Asia and the United States. Dubbed the Northern Gateway Pipeline, the project is of concern for three main reasons: 1. It would facilitate the expansion of the Tar Sands, hooking emerging Asian economies on the world's dirtiest oil; 2. the risks from the pipeline itself; 3. the danger of introducing oil supertankers for the first time to this part of the BC coast.

Now a growing coalition of First Nations, conservation groups, and concerned citizens from Canada and around the world is banding together to say no the Enbridge project, in what is shaping up to be the defining Canadian environmental battle of our time. Produced by Canadian filmmaker Damien Gillis for Pacific Wild, This 16 min short documentary - featuring stunning images from the Great Bear Rainforest - provides a summary of the key issues involved in this battle over the pipeline, tankers, and Canada's Pacific coast.

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  • Lost World - Below the Great Bear, with Ian McAllister
    Jan 15, 2013
  • Spirit Bear in New York City
    Oct 19, 2011
  • Great Bear Rainforest Exhibit shines in Prince George
    Aug 31, 2011
  • Q&A with Ian McAllister August 2011 Photographer of the Month
    Aug 4, 2011
  • Paul Nicklen: Spirit Bear Blog
    Aug 2, 2011
  • National Geographic: Kermode Bear
    Jul 18, 2011
  • Rally for an Oil-Free Coast, Prince Rupert
    May 20, 2011
  • Pacific Wild Launches New Animated Film on the Great Bear Rainforest
    Apr 13, 2011
  • A Call to Action: SPOIL Wins Top Environmental Film at Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival
    Feb 22, 2011

Lost World - Below the Great Bear, with Ian McAllister

Ian McAllister
Jan 15, 2013

"On the outer coast dives, with the storm surge and strong currents it was a challenge to not get thrown into urchin and barnacle encrusted walls, but throw in a large underwater camera housing and strobes and it gets really interesting."


Join Ian McAllister, photographer and Conservation Director at Pacific Wild in exploring the underwater world of the Great Bear Rainforest."There is simply no way to describe the diversity of life, the kaleidoscope of colours and the jaw-dropping exquisiteness that each dive presented to us." - Ian McAllisterhttp://blog.pacificwild.org/2012/12/31/lost-world-below-the-great-bear/ Share or comment on this story >

Spirit Bear in New York City

Oct 19, 2011

We set up tripods, we followed guides, we lived on sailboats and tugboats, we were welcomed by the Gitga’at community, we took to the air - swam in the ocean and shimmied on our stomachs with salmon...


It’s been over a year since we were in the Great Bear Rainforest - heard whispers of the Spirit Bear, the Kermode Bear, that graces this wild landscape with its presence. It's been over a year since we listened to the stories of the Gitga’at people, stories of their culture so entwined with the ocean, so balanced with their land.We listened as they wove threads of a sustainable future with the threats of impeding mega tanker traffic. Mega tankers that would be transporting dirty oil from a pipeline originating from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, headed to markets overseas. We listened with disbelief that the wreckage and oil seeping from the Queen of the North, a ferry that sank on a routine trip, has not yet been cleaned up. We grew wary as we heard from local conservation groups that the Canadian government is not making moves to stop this tanker traffic or the pipeline. We were inspired to use the tools that we possess to get involved with this story, to help stand up to this challenge, to join this campaign to save the Great Bear Rainforest. We set up tripods, we followed guides, we lived on sailboats and tugboats, we were welcomed by the Gitga’at community, we took to the air - swam in the ocean and shimmied on our stomachs with salmon working their way upstream to their spawning grounds. We set up rain canopies to protect equipment, we were encouraged to wear galoshes, rain coats, water proof pants (we needed them). We captured this unique landscape, where a wild ocean meets a wild rainforest, through imagery, through video, through stories and experiences shared. We now strive to use these images to give the Great Bear Rainforest and the Coastal First Nations communities a voice, - to show people what stands to be lost, and illuminate for all those that see that this is not a local issue, it’s not a BC Coast issue, it’s not a Canadian issue or even a North American issue, it’s reach is global.Let the government of Canada know that places like this need to be protected and that the peoples that call it home need to be empowered to continue their way of life. A way of life that is one with the wilderness around them, a symbiotic relationship, an example we can all learn from.Take action with Sierra Club BC and Pacific WildAbout the Great Bear Rainforest Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE):The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) has teamed up with Pacific WILD, the Gitga’at First Nation of British Columbia, LightHawk, TidesCanada, Save our Seas Foundation, Sierra Club BC, and the Dogwood initiative to carry out a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE) in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. We are focusing our energy and cameras on this pristine region in response to plans by several large multinational companies to build a pipeline for heavy crude oil from the Alberta tar sands across British Columbia to the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest.The tar sands in northern Alberta are arguably one of the world’s most environmentally-devastating extractive industries and the proposed pipeline would put one of our planet’s most ecologically-sensitive and intact marine ecosystems at risk for a catastrophic oil spill through increased mega tanker traffic.The 14-day expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest called upon 7 world-renowned photographers and 3 videographers to thoroughly document the region’s landscapes, wildlife, and culture. The RAVE provided media support to the First Nations and environmental groups seeking to stop the proposed Enbridge Gateway pipeline project (and thus expansion of the tar sands) and to expose the plan to lift the oil tanker ship moratorium.SPOIL, a documentary about the iLCP RAVE and the Great Bear Rainforest is playing in NYC:SPOIL is screening this Saturday, October 22 at 3pm as part of MountainFilm in New York. Buy tickets for SPOIL hereAbout the filmmakers:Trip Jennings is a videographer, director of photography, and producer. In 2007 he was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Honoree for his work in Papua New Guinea. He's most proud of his work stopping timber sales in Oregon's old growth forests and growing delicious vegetables.Andy Maser is an experienced cameraman, producer, and film editor. A National Geographic Young Explorer grantee, he's equally at home filming wildlife deep in the jungle, as he is documenting stories of science, conservation and adventure. Share or comment on this story >

Great Bear Rainforest Exhibit shines in Prince George

Aug 31, 2011

Bring your family and friends to this free exhibition and film series at UNBC and experience the awe of the incredible flora and fauna of this coastal rainforest.


Sept. 1 to Sept. 30The Rotunda Gallery and UNBC Arts Council, in conjunction with Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance and the International League of Conservation Photographers, presents the Great Bear Wild Photo Exhibit. This traveling exhibition features stunning images of the Great Bear Rainforest taken by world-renowned wildlife photographers and shows the fragile ecosystem where the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines are proposed go through in order to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to ocean-going tankers in Kitimat BC. This extensive exhibit features some of the same photographs that appear in the August 2011 National Geographic Article, “Pipeline Through Paradise."Bring your family and friends to this free exhibition and film series at UNBC and experience the awe of the incredible flora and fauna of this coastal rainforest. Patrick Freeny’s images of the great Spirit Bears, Thomas P. Pechak’s underwater “Seal Lion Ballet” and the work of many other photographers communicate the fragile and vulnerable beauty of this complex habitat. There is also a community bulletin board for you to post your own nature and wildlife photographs and/or drawings.Exhibition opening celebration on September 13, 6pm to 7pm. Light refreshments will be served. Following the opening is a discussion and screening of the film “SPOIL” in the Weldwood Theatre 7pm - 8:30pm (room 7-238).UNBC Rotunda Gallery
University of Northern British Columbia 3333 University Way Prince George, BC    V2N 4Z9
CANADA
September 1 - September 30, 2011

Great Bear Wild

September 13 Opening Night 6 - 7 pm

SPOIL” screening 7 - 8:30pm following exhibit

Regular gallery hours are Monday to Friday, from 9am to 9pm.Films free or by donation in the Weldwood Theatre (7-238), UNBC; 7-8:30 PM:The following films will be screened to highlight the concerns and risks that could result from the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project:Sept 13: SPOILSept 20: End:CivSept 27: Awakening the Skeena, with Ali Howard as our guestOct 4: On the LineFilms free or by donation in the Weldwood Theatre (7-238), UNBC; 7-8:30 PM  Share or comment on this story >

Q&A with Ian McAllister August 2011 Photographer of the Month

Ian McAllister
Aug 4, 2011

The Spirit bear is a worthy ambassador of the mystery and magnificence of this rainforest.


An award winning photographer and author, Ian McAllister co-founded the wildlife conservation group Pacific Wild, a leading voice for protection of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.Ian’s images have been published in four award-winning books Last Wild Wolves, Great Bear Rainforest, The Salmon Bears and The Sea Wolves. He has also been the recipient of a number of awards for his environmental work, including Time Magazine’s “Hero for the Planet” award, Rainforest Action Networks “World Rainforest Award” and NANPA’s “Vision Award”. Ian continues to pursue photography and film work as a cornerstone of wildlife conservation on Canada’s Pacific coast. He lives on a small island with his family in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.Q: What drew you to the Great Bear Rainforest? What is unique about it?I was fortunate to have been born in British Columbia and formative years included exploring the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island. Along the way I met local explorer/photographers like Mark Hobson and Adrian Dorst who were living out of zodiacs and documenting the wild beauty of the North pacific. The passion of these individuals, the contribution they were making to ancient forest protection and the lifestyle they pursued inspired me to forge a similar path. However, it was the brutal clearcut logging destruction of over 80% of Vancouver Islands old growth forests and the realization that the same logging companies were getting geared up to liquidate the rainforests of the BC north coast – a place now know as the Great Bear Rainforest - that really became the game changer.It was an amazing time to be part of such a significant conservation campaign - but also a challenge to adequately document a coastal wilderness bigger than Switzerland while helping forge a science-based conservation design that would be supported by intransigent governments and timber companies. When I first saw the countless river valleys that formed the temperate rainforests of the BC north coast there was no turning back. Even today it feels like seeing the place for the first time – it is so full of life and beauty and mystery. To find huge tracts of intact ancient forests broken only by wild rivers teeming with salmon, grizzly bears, wolves, whales and so much else. To know that First Nation communities are still living in their ancestral territories and still being provided for by the ocean. It deserves the best kind of protection that we can give, it does not deserve to be a door mat for oil companies.Q: How would the GBR and the coast of BC be affected if the Northern Gateway pipline and resulting megatanker traffic goes through?Over the last twenty years it has been inspiring to work alongside so many talented and dedicated environmentalists, First Nations and citizens who have stood up for protecting this place. We managed to keep open net-cage salmon farms from expanding here, over 30% of the rainforest is now in various levels of protection, we bought out some trophy hunting licenses to help protect wildlife and First Nations are driving the conservation vision forward. There is plenty of work left to be done, but progress is being made. The idea of introducing super oil tankers, the noisiest vessels on the planet, to this fragile coast will displace acoustically sensitive marine mammals, such as humpback, Orca and fin whales. Their ability to communicate and forage would become so compromised that they simply will not exist here. If a tanker disgorges its oil after slamming into any one of the countless reefs and islands along the proposed tanker route our coast would be finished. It would cause a cascading series of ecological collapses culminating in the ruin of coastal communities and economies. First Nations with over ten-thousand years of continuous occupation here simply have nowhere else to go. Their way of life would be so fundamentally altered that this pipeline proposal is being described by many as a form of cultural genocide.Q: If you could choose 5 words to describe the GBR what would they be?Culturally, ecologically, spiritually – rich and profound.Q The Spirit Bear clearly is a local treasure. Is it more than a valued anomaly? Does it have magical or shamanistic qualities? What role does it play in First Nation iconography? How do the First Nations protect this region?The Spirit bear is a worthy ambassador of the mystery and magnificence of this rainforest. Hidden from the outside for so long it has been forced to emerge as an icon to inspire people to protect its threatened coastal habitat. Conservation photography and film work is needed as much today as it was twenty years ago. Case in point. We are being contacted from people around the world who have just read Paul Nicklen and Bruce Barcott’s feature story in the latest issue of National Geographic Magazine on the Spirit Bear and the Enbridge pipeline/tanker proposal. This is conservation journalism at its best because people are simply being shown what a globally unique and rare ecosystem this is and the potential threat it faces. It does not take people long to reach the conclusion that it is a bad idea to be transporting half a million barrels a day of the dirtiest oil in the world across the rocky mountains and the coast mountain range, over some of the worlds most productive salmon rivers and a coastline of rock strewn wave encased reefs where hurricane force wind events are common.We have every single oil company in the world (they are all invested in the Canadian tar sands) backed by a sympathetic and petro dollar blinded federal government lined up against the spirit bear, the majority of Canadians and a long list of courageous First Nations. If I was an Enbridge shareholder I would be running the other way. In many respects this pipeline is a pipe dream but Canada won’t wake up until more people make their voice heard.Q: What can readers do to get involved?It is deeply frustrating to see how few North Americans are aware that Canada has joined the planets elite roster of petro states. The far reach of the Canadian tar sands should be of greater international concern, more people need to look closely at Canadian energy policy and what extracting oil from the tar sands is doing to the health of the planet. Currently our national energy strategy is 100% about rapidly increasing tar sands oil production and selling it to the highest bidder and when a country owns the second largest known oil reserves in the world it cares less and less about international obligations or scrutiny. Does Canada really need to hook Asian economies on the dirtiest most environmentally harmful oil in the world at the expense of one of the last great coastal rainforests?Visit pacificwild.org. Contact us and we will help direct your support in the best way possible. Share or comment on this story >

Paul Nicklen: Spirit Bear Blog

Paul Nicklen
Aug 2, 2011

" Despite the near-daily downpours here, I have woken up at 4am every day for 18 days to begin the long trek to the hidden post where I hope to photograph one of the rarest animals on Earth: the elusive Spirit or Kermode Bear." -Paul Nicklen


Written for Hauser Bears

Everything around me is wet. The forest is cloaked in a wonderfully thick cushion of lush, green, slippery moss. As uncomfortable as it is to spend day-after-day completely soaked, the sodden environment is one of the things that makes this place - the Great Bear Rainforest - so distinctive. Located in northern British Columbia, the Great Bear Rainforest is the largest remaining tract of Pacific Northwest Coastal Rainforest, an ecosystem that harbors hundreds of species including cougars, black bears, grizzly bears, and a highly adapted coastal wolf, the only of its kind to specialize in seashore scavenging for mussels, clams, seaweed, and salmon.Despite the near-daily downpours here, I have woken up at 4am every day for 18 days to begin the long trek to the hidden post where I hope to photograph one of the rarest animals on Earth: the elusive Spirit or Kermode Bear. The Spirit Bear is a black bear that, due to a rare genetic trait, has developed completely white fur. This trait is passed from generation to generation but not to all offspring. For this reason, it is possible to see a white Spirit Bear mother with black cubs, or a black bear mother with white Spirit Bear offspring. Either way, spotting one of these creatures is like seeing a ghost in the forest. They are enigmatic, and very, very evasive.The story I pitched to National Geographic Magazine focuses on this mythical creature. Hard to see and even harder to photograph, the Spirit Bear is the iconic symbol of a unique ecosystem that has mystified me for a very long time. I conceived my story as a natural history essay on this strange animal but, when I arrived in the Rainforest, I was saddened and frustrated to learn that this idyllic corner of the world is facing a massive threat.Due to the massive oil deposits found in the Alberta Tar Sands, Canada has recently emerged as a “petrostate” and is cultivating a role in the world’s oil market. Alberta, however, is in the center of the enormous country. In order to ship oil overseas, Canada must build pipelines to the coast; and here is where the stories of the Enbridge Pipeline and the Spirit Bear collide.I talked to my friend Ian McAllister, President of Pacific Wild, a conservation group that strives to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, about the pipeline and his response was sobering. If the Enbridge pipeline is built, a 1500-mile pipe will carry oil from Alberta to Kitimat, a site in the heart of the GBR, where it will be loaded onto megatankers and shipped across the ocean. The danger lies in the very feature that makes this shoreline so magical: the hundreds of inlets, channels, and fjords that are the trademark of the GBR are also some of the most treacherous waters to navigate in the world. With strong currents and fast tides, one can easily imagine a tanker accidentally running ashore. One spill would mean the end of a vital coastal community of wildlife and the First Nations people that depend on the fast-moving, clean waters of this ecosystem to survive.Slowly I have been able to gain the trust and friendship of the Gitga’at people, who are the stewards of this land, and I have been granted their permission to travel up one of their most sacred streams to photograph the Spirit Bear. The stream where I am working is located across from the small Gitga’at town of Hartley Bay (population 180). From there, I need to take my zodiac on a 25 minute ride across the channel and carry my 60 lb backpack up the stream to a quiet pool of water at the bottom of a series of falls, where the bears come to fish for salmon. Every day for nearly three weeks, I have waited from sunrise to sunset but, as I near the end of my assignment, only a few black bears have come to fish here. This year’s berries have been extremely abundant and the bears have decided to stay up on the hills gorging themselves on the globular fruits instead of chasing after salmon on the water; and, as a result, I’ve seen no spirit bears. I’m beginning to worry I won’t get the images necessary to complete my assignment.Although I’m not ready to give up, I am soggy, exhausted, and in need of advice. I find my friend and mentor Marven Robinson, a Gitga’at tracker. His business involves bringing tourists to see the Spirit Bears but, not surprisingly, he keeps the best spots as a secret. Today, however, Marven has offered to share everything he knows about the Spirit Bear with me. He understands that having 40 million people read about the magic of this creature and this place in National Geographic Magazine will help in the fight to keep oil out of the Great Bear Rainforest.On this, the last week of my assignment, Marven has invited me to join him on a special trek to where he knows the Spirit Bears roam. As we lay quietly on the drenched forest floor by the edge of a stream, a Spirit Bear appears. It is a large male that Marven has known since he was a cub. “He is my friend,” he tells me. “You can get close to him.”Being privy to the trust of a Gita’at is a humbling feeling. Marven and his people hold this creature sacred, and I feel the weight of responsibility and honor as I begin photographing this beautiful animal. I know Marven and his people are depending on my work to make a difference, and I intend to not disappoint.For the next three days I follow the bear closely. I respectfully watch and photograph as he fishes for salmon, meanders through the forest, and spends his days being a bear. At one point he climbs a tree to eat wild apples and, in a moment I will never forget, he falls asleep next to an old growth red cedar tree, the largest in the forest. As I wait for him to wake up, I too lay idly a couple of feet from the bear. I smell his rich, damp fur, and I hear him breathing and watch his chest heaving slowly as his body begins to relax into rest. I close my eyes, knowing that this will always be one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had as a photographer and as a human being.With great appreciation and enthusiasm, I’m happy to announce that my story on the Spirit Bear and the Great Bear Rainforest made the cover of August 2011’s National Geographic Magazine. I hope the story conveys the allure of the GBR and the Spirit Bear as well as the urgency in the Enbridge pipeline development. Please contact me with any questions, or reach out to the generous and dedicated staff at Hauserbear to see what you can do to preserve the harmony of one of our planet’s most special places.The August 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine is on newsstands now! Share or comment on this story >

National Geographic: Kermode Bear

Bruce Barcott
Jul 18, 2011

"In a moss-draped rain forest in British Columbia, towering red cedars live a thousand years, and black bears are born with white fur."


The cover of the August 2011 National Geographic Magazine shows a Spirit Bear photograph taken by iLCP photographer Paul Nicklen. Check out the gallery of amazing shots here."Neither albino nor polar bear, the spirit bear (also known as the Kermode bear) is a white variant of the North American black bear, and it's found almost exclusively here in the Great Bear Rainforest. At 25,000 square miles—one and a half times as big as Switzerland—the region runs 250 miles down Canada's western coast and encompasses a vast network of mist-shrouded fjords, densely forested islands, and glacier-capped mountains. Grizzlies, black bears, wolves, wolverines, humpback whales, and orcas thrive along a coast that has been home to First Nations like the Gitga'at for hundreds of generations. It's a spooky, wild, mysterious place: There are wolves here that fish. Deer that swim. Western red cedar trees that have stood a thousand years or more. And a black bear that is white...Researchers have recently proved that the spirit bear's white coat gives it an advantage when fishing. Although white and black bears tend to have the same success rate after dark—when bears do a lot of their fishing—scientists Reimchen and Dan Klinka from the University of Victoria noticed a difference during the daytime. White bears catch salmon in one-third of their attempts. Black individuals are successful only one-quarter of the time. "The salmon are less concerned about a white object as seen from below the surface," Reimchen speculates. That may answer part of the question about why the white-fur trait continues to flourish today. If salmon are a coastal bear's primary fat and protein source, a successful female can feast on salmon to store more fat for winter, potentially increasing the number of cubs she can produce." -Bruce Barcott from the August issue of the National Geographic magazine, available on newsstands July 26Related National Geographic Article: Pipeline Through ParadiseImagery by iLCP photographers on the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE can be seen here. Share or comment on this story >

Rally for an Oil-Free Coast, Prince Rupert

Caitlyn Vernon, Sierra Club BC
May 20, 2011

It was a busy, eventful, and inspiring week in Prince Rupert.


On May 12, hundreds of people protested the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in Prince Rupert and on Haida Gwaii. A busy week of events showcased the passionate concern northwest communities have for their coast and for opposing the looming prospect of oil tanker traffic.It was a busy, eventful, and inspiring week in Prince Rupert.On May 12th over 500 people gathered to protest the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. On the same day, 260 people rallied in Masset on Haida Gwaii.The rallies were timed to coincide with the annual convention of the North Central Local Government Association, a regional organization made up of town councils from across northern B.C. Enbridge was a platinum-level sponsor of the convention. First Nations and citizens from across northwest B.C. gathered to say no to the proposed pipeline and tankers, and to say yes to a future with sustainable livelihoods, coastal tourism and recreation opportunities, healthy fisheries, communities grounded in culture, and children growing up knowing the taste of shellfish and salmon.Click here to read Caitlyn Vernon’s story about the rally, published in the Georgia Straight.Photos were on display in Prince Rupert last week as well, taken by the International League of Conservation Photographers during the September Great Bear RAVE , as powerful reminders of all that would be put at risk if oil supertankers were allowed to navigate the dangerous waters of the north coast.The Friends of Wild Salmon, with the support of Sierra Club BC and Pacific Wild, hosted a reception and presentation on May 11th called OIL: Our Communities, Our Choices. It was a full house, standing room only. Over 100 people came together to listen and to discuss, surrounded by the stunning images of wolf pups, spirit bears, and the coastal cultures that have relied on the bounty from the sea for millennia. In the crowd were First Nations from as far south as Bella Bella who had made the trip up the coast for this event, concerned citizens, and many elected municipal representatives from across northern B.C.After screening the film SPOIL a group of Heiltsuk youth spoke about their opposition to the proposed tankers that would put their future at risk. Marven Robinson, an ecotourism operator and elected councillor with the Gitga’at First Nation, spoke eloquently about all that is at stake with the proposed oil tankers, giving the perspective of those who stand to be most affected in the inevitable event of an accident.Andrew Nikiforuk, an author and journalist who has written extensively about Alberta’s tar sands, connected the struggle to stop the Enbridge pipeline and tankers with the big picture of an oil-dependent society. He called on us to start acting as owners when it comes to our natural resources, to stop giving them away for next to nothing. Nikiforuk also encouraged creative thinking and actions to shift us away from our dependency on oil. For example, establishing train service between all northern communities. He quoted St. Francis of Assisi, “start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”Art Sterritt spoke on behalf of Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative, the regional alliance of First Nations on the central and north coast and Haida Gwaii. He spoke about how Coastal First Nations have made the choice to move towards a conservation economy, one that sustains communities with jobs and revenue while not undermining the ability of coastal ecosystems to sustain communities and livelihoods into the future. Art gave the example of a shellfish hatchery that Coastal First Nations is now operating in Prince Rupert, and the plan to grow these shellfish at farms up and down the coast as a more sustainable form of aquaculture.The OIL: Our Communities, Our Choices event provided important context from both the big-picture of an oil economy and the on-the-ground reality of coastal cultures and all that we stand to lose. The next night, the Rally for an Oil-Free Coast provided the strength and inspiration that comes from so many people standing together in solidarity. Finally, the following day, the RAVE images were shared with hundreds of people from all over the world, cruise ship passengers who had stopped in Prince Rupert for just a few hours. It was an opportunity to reach an audience who had not heard of the proposed Enbridge pipeline and tankers. They came from across Canada and the US, from Europe and Latin America. They stood gazing at the RAVE images, they watched films on the issue, they asked questions, they signed action postcards and they went away with images of wolf pups and the prospect of oil spills in their minds. Take action – let the B.C. and Canadian governments know where you stand on the issue of oil tankers in the Great Bear Rainforest.

About the author:

Based out of Victoria, Caitlyn is working with Sierra Club BC towards full implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest agreements (ecosystem-based management, a network of protected areas, and conservation financing). A naturalist since a young age, a biologist by training, and a conservationist at heart, Caitlyn is committed to the maintenance and restoration of healthy coastal ecosystems. She also firmly believes that ecological solutions need to work for the people who have to live with them. To this end, much of her time is spent working in partnership with First Nations to support regional networks aimed at strengthening capacity to implement and monitor ecosystem-based management over the long term. She is fortunate to spend time in communities on the Central and North Coast. Share or comment on this story >

Pacific Wild Launches New Animated Film on the Great Bear Rainforest

Apr 13, 2011

a beautiful short animation focusing on the whales of the Great Bear Rainforest


Watch Pacific Wild's latest release -- a beautiful short animation focusing on the whales of the Great Bear Rainforest. Produced by Picture Cloud film & animation of Victoria B.C. this visually stunning and thought provoking animation explores the dire threats facing whales by acoustic ship pollution.The return of Humpback and other species of cetaceans to the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest is a welcome event since the dark days when whale killing ships traveled our waters. But this may be short lived if oil tankers begin moving Alberta tar sands crude through the Great Bears fragile waters.The release of this animation is timely. On May 2nd the Canadian public go back to the voting booths and only one federal party supports oil tankers in the Great Bear Rainforest. Never has one election meant so much to our coastal environment. Review in Times Colonist Share or comment on this story >

A Call to Action: SPOIL Wins Top Environmental Film at Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

Feb 22, 2011


We're so excited about the success of SPOIL at last week's Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. Not only did it win the top spot in the Environmental Film category, but our screening brought together some of the key characters of this summer's RAVE, enticed more than 700 spectators and motivated more than 1,000 people to take action... in one night!

This film is beautiful and inspiring for so many reasons, but if we are to pick one thing that stands out it's that the film truly motivates people to act; reminding them that sitting quietly on the sidelines isn't an option.

Tar sands are dirty and destructive, and as Garth Lenz said, this film is a call to action for all of us become "anti tar sands warriors."

"This is an opportunity, what road are we on and where do we want to be going? ... do we want to be so ashamed of our country's environmental actions that we rip the Canadian flags off our backpacks?"

Enbridge's proposed pipeline wouldn't just affect the surrounding wilderness, it would completely alter a way of life. "If I wanted to be a tug boat captain I'd be one already. I like what I do, that's why I do it," said Marven Robinson (Gitga'at First Nations), an integral part of the film as a spirit bear guide. "[a spill] would take away all we [Gitga'at First Nations] have and all we do."

Thanks to all of our speakers: video from Tom Peschak, Garth Lenz, Marven Robinson (Gitga'at First Nations), Caitlyn Vernon from Sierra Club BC, Norm Hann - Standup4GreatBear, Mike Reid, Frank Wolf, Ian McAllister, and Frank Brown. And of course to EP Films for making this winning film that we hope inspires people across the continent to truly fight for this pristine wilderness.

Ready to fight? Sign Pacific Wild's petition, tell your friends, join Stand Up 4 Great Bear on Facebook, write your local representatives, show SPOIL to your family; it's all part of the greater effort and we can't fight the fight without you.

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  • National Geographic: Kermode Bear
    Jul 18, 2011
  • Enbridge Pipeline Faces Prospect of Civil Disobedience
    May 13, 2011
  • Enbridge Ready for its Close-up: Pipeline Sparks Creative & Cultural Movement
    Mar 28, 2011
  • The Yes Men Strike Again: Hair Salons Can’t Protect Against the Effects of Oil Spills
    Mar 16, 2011
  • Oil Pipelines and Spirit Bears
    Mar 4, 2011
  • The Guardian: Wildlife photographers put focus on Great Bear rainforest
    Nov 2, 2010
  • ABC News Video: The Hunt for the Rare Spirit Bears
    Oct 21, 2010
  • ABC News: Spirit Bears and the Great Bear Rainforest
    Oct 21, 2010
  • Oil reserves put Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest under the lens
    Aug 13, 2010

National Geographic: Kermode Bear

National Geographic Magazine : Jul 18, 2011Read Article >


"In a moss-draped rain forest in British Columbia, towering red cedars live a thousand years, and black bears are born with white fur."


The cover of the August 2011 National Geographic Magazine shows a Spirit Bear photograph taken by iLCP photographer Paul Nicklen. Check out the gallery of amazing shots here."Neither albino nor polar bear, the spirit bear (also known as the Kermode bear) is a white variant of the North American black bear, and it's found almost exclusively here in the Great Bear Rainforest. At 25,000 square miles—one and a half times as big as Switzerland—the region runs 250 miles down Canada's western coast and encompasses a vast network of mist-shrouded fjords, densely forested islands, and glacier-capped mountains. Grizzlies, black bears, wolves, wolverines, humpback whales, and orcas thrive along a coast that has been home to First Nations like the Gitga'at for hundreds of generations. It's a spooky, wild, mysterious place: There are wolves here that fish. Deer that swim. Western red cedar trees that have stood a thousand years or more. And a black bear that is white...Researchers have recently proved that the spirit bear's white coat gives it an advantage when fishing. Although white and black bears tend to have the same success rate after dark—when bears do a lot of their fishing—scientists Reimchen and Dan Klinka from the University of Victoria noticed a difference during the daytime. White bears catch salmon in one-third of their attempts. Black individuals are successful only one-quarter of the time. "The salmon are less concerned about a white object as seen from below the surface," Reimchen speculates. That may answer part of the question about why the white-fur trait continues to flourish today. If salmon are a coastal bear's primary fat and protein source, a successful female can feast on salmon to store more fat for winter, potentially increasing the number of cubs she can produce." -Bruce Barcott from the August issue of the National Geographic magazine, available on newsstands July 26Related National Geographic Article: Pipeline Through ParadiseImagery by iLCP photographers on the Great Bear Rainforest RAVE can be seen here. Share or comment on this story >

Enbridge Pipeline Faces Prospect of Civil Disobedience

Friends of Wild Salmon : May 13, 2011Read Article >


500-Strong Crowd Rallies Outside Northern BC Municipalities Convention in Prince Rupert“I will put my body in front of it.” – Gerald Amos, councillor, Haisla Nation


PRINCE RUPERT, BRITISH COLUMBIA—(Marketwire – May 13, 2011) – Over 500 First Nations and concerned citizens from across Northwest B.C. gathered in Prince Rupert last night for a rally against Enbridge and its plan for pipelines and oil tanker traffic on the province’s North Coast.The rally and march, which come less than 24 hours after major protests against Enbridge at its AGM in Calgary, coincided with the annual convention of the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA), a regional organization made up of town councils from across northern B.C.  Share or comment on this story >

Enbridge Ready for its Close-up: Pipeline Sparks Creative & Cultural Movement

The Common Sense Canadian : Mar 28, 2011Read Article >


Great Bear Rainforest event at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIMFF) February 2011


Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - this is a post and video from the spOILed event at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Share or comment on this story >

The Yes Men Strike Again: Hair Salons Can’t Protect Against the Effects of Oil Spills

The Yes Men : Mar 16, 2011Read Article >


The Yes Men strike again!


A clever satire by The Yes Men opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Share or comment on this story >

Oil Pipelines and Spirit Bears

Vancouver Sun : Mar 4, 2011Read Article >


At the conclusion of the film, a narrator asks the viewer to telephone the prime minister's office to urge the government to introduce an oil tanker ban on B.C. north coast.


"Environmentalists have fired off another round in the ongoing dispute between Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and those who believe a pipeline across B.C. connecting to an oil tanker port in Kitimat would spell the end of what is best about northern British Columbia." - Barbara Yaffe

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The Guardian: Wildlife photographers put focus on Great Bear rainforest

The Guardian : Nov 2, 2010Read Article >


"A team of internationally renowned photographers has released a series of stunning images captured during its rapid assessment visual expedition (Rave) to British Columbia's Great Bear rainforest over the summer."


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ABC News Video: The Hunt for the Rare Spirit Bears

ABC News Video : Oct 21, 2010Read Article >


"Searching for spirit bears, a rare white bear species revered by locals."


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ABC News: Spirit Bears and the Great Bear Rainforest

ABC News : Oct 21, 2010Read Article >


"Conservationists hope photo spread will bring attention to pipeline proposal."


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Oil reserves put Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest under the lens

National Geographic News Watch : Aug 13, 2010Read Article >



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How You Can Help

Support can come in many shapes and sizes. At this point we are looking for financial support to assist in the maintenance and travel of this exhibition. We are looking to set up exhibitions in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. over the coming year. If you would like to adopt a city or are interested in contributing to one of these events financially, in-kind, or by volunteering, please contact Sarah Stoner (sarah@pacificwild.org) to further discuss your potential contribution.If the Great Bear RAVE isn’t coming to your home, you can still help!
  • Write a letter to elected officials.http://www.pacificwild.org or http://www.sierraclub.bc.ca/take-action
  • Write a letter to the editor.
  • Host a letter writing party: sarah@pacificwild.org
  • Organize a screening of Spoil in your community.
  • Organize events to get your neighbours, co-workers, family and your faith community involved.
  • Connect with a local group, or start a group in your community. We suggest contacting http://www.pacificwild.org http://www.sierraclub.bc.ca to find out how you can do more.