A few kilometres south of Gray Bay, I found a beautiful North-facing cove that had a massive deposit of shells, bones and driftwood, deposited along the high-tide line. Moonsnail shells the size of my brain, a huge indigenous oyster shell in perfect shape, and the find I was hoping for – an abalone shell the size of my hand. The abalone, like much of the sea-life here, has also suffered from overharvesting, and now the shells you come across on the beach are not typically larger than two or three twoonies put together. I was moved to tears to see this shell, sitting regally atop mounds of other tougher – though thoroughly smashed - shells. I carefully cradled it in my hands, admiring its vibrantly splotchy pink and black exterior, flipping it over to reveal the opalescent interior, coveted and revered in so many cultures. I continued on down the beach for just a little longer, and in my ignorant captivation neglected to notice the bear only 12 or so metres ahead of me. Peacefully browsing the intertidal, I must have scared him half to death – he bellowed as he took off up the beach, into the safety of the trees. I felt so badly for having bothered him. Just in case, I un-clipped my pack and got ready to drop it in case I needed to flee from him into the ocean. I got as far from the trees, and as close to the water as I could, and continued to walk while singing to him - Tragically Hip mostly - and apologizing loudly for interrupting his uneventful afternoon. I kept my eye and camera lens trained on the forest’s border, in case he was waiting for me to move past him. Continuing to sing for him this strange mix of adoration and apology, I saw him, perched gracefully in the lower branches of a Spruce tree, waiting for me to pass. Without stopping the songs (or the walking), I snapped a photo, swiftly walking past his perch and continuing around the corner into the next cove. I would wait here for nearly an hour until I saw he had moved on.
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