Clamming Bears

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Lake Clark, Photos, Travel 10 Comments

A young cubs watched intently as its mother digs for clams, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.

A young cub watched intently as its mother digs for clams, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.

I find it fascinating to watch wildlife perform a learned behavior, and watching coastal brown bears dig for clams is no exception.  Really, it is amazing!  Although they may have different techniques for opening the clams, they really can become efficient clam diggers.

This was one of two cubs I had watched as spring cubs last year.  It was great to see them still doing well.  One of the cubs had actually learned to dig for its own clams.  It had to dig twice as hard as its mother, and it struggled to open them, but you could tell he was becoming self-sufficient.

This was the other cub who had not mastered the skill yet, and would watch intently as the mother dug clam after clam.  This is what you see here.  I would think it is just a matter of time until this cub begins digging for clams as well.

Comments 10

  1. It’s amazing how much the cub’s fur looks like its mother’s. I remember last year it was all dark and fuzzy. Do you have any recent shots of the 2 cubs together?

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    @ Richard – they really do look similar. These are the same to spring cubs we saw last year.

    @ Nise en Scene Thanks! Bears rock!

    @ Scott I do – I’ll email you a couple tomorrow.

  3. Great capture of the sow teaching her cub how to clam. So cool to see moms taking care of their young, no matter what animal species. Would love to see how they open these clams up. How many clams do they eat a day roughly? Amazing big creatures like them can survive on clams and berries.

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    Thanks a lot!

    @ Wayne Seemed like this bear could dig up a clam every minute or two. She would lay the clam on the mud and slide her paw over it and that opened it up – looked really quick and easy. I have seen others using one claw – fascinating to watch such a powerful animal doing such delicate work.

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