Splish splash, a bear's taking a bath.
At least that's the impression given by new video footage from British Columbia, Canada. Shot by two GoPro cameras—one above and one below the water level—mounted to a homemade pontoon, the video offers a rare, extremely close look into the wild.
The young grizzly bear seems drawn to the cameras, nosing them playfully in the shallow, clear water of a river in Knight Inlet in southern British Columbia.
"The idea was to film bears diving for fish in two-meter deep pools," Newsflare member kitchinsink, who uploaded the video, wrote. "If I was in the pool they wouldn't come and dive, so I needed a camera that would float inconspicuously!"
"It’s clear the bear was curious about the cameras," says Dave Garshelis, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota and the leader of the state's bear project.
"Bears are very curious, especially young bears like this one," adds Garshelis, who mainly studies black bears in the Midwest and several species of bears in Asia. (Watch bears enjoying a "natural bathtub" in Yellowstone.)
The videographer had hoped to film more natural bear behavior, such as fishing, but the young bruin was too excited by the strange object.
"Cameras can have a distinct smell and they look obvious in the water," Garshelis says. "Bears often destroy cameras out of curiosity, which is why we put metal cages around the ones we use to study them."
Garshelis says it's too hard to tell the sex of the bear from the video, but the filmmaker says it was a female, based on longer observation of the animal.
Grizzly bears have a robust population and are doing very well in British Columbia, Garshelis says. They often appear in the news during the province's limited hunting season, when animal advocates and hunting advocates square off.
"The hunt is more of a moral, ethical question; it's not that the population has been impacted," Garshelis says.
Grizzly bear tourism is also big business in British Columbia, with numerous lodges and tours operating up and down the coast. The bears can often be seen in high densities during salmon runs, when food is plentiful. With their bellies full they are generally considered less unpredictable and dangerous, though they are still wild animals that should never be approached.
In other words, trying to get a selfie with a bear is not a good idea.
But, "I don’t think [this video] could be construed as harassment in any way," adds Garshelis. "It’s not like it was trying to catch a fish and then was disturbed. It was just curious about the cameras."