A kayaker in British Columbia's Elaho River got the scare of his life last Friday when a young grizzly bear charged into the water and started swimming towards him at top speed. The paddler was on the job at the time, as a safety kayaker on a whitewater rafting trip.
Safety kayakers accompany whitewater rafting excursions, paddling ahead of the group to identify and steer rafters away from potential hazards and flipping spots. The rafting tour guide managed to capture the entire terrifying incident on his GoPro. He said "he's never seen anything like in 15 years."
A river guide posted the video on Instagram with the caption, "So this happened in my office today... A young Grizzly bear thought my safety kayaker Jono looked like the biggest Salmon he’d ever set eyes on."
At first, everyone seemed amazed by the unexpected grizzly sighting. Shouts and laughter can be heard in the background, as the threat to the kayaker's safety wasn't entirely apparent. According to the U.S. National Parks Service, most grizzly bears will avoid humans if they hear them coming, but their behaviour can be unpredictable.
The bear dove into the river and headed straight for the kayaker - shockingly fast. Grizzly bears are good swimmers and fast runners, and gain speeds of up to 65 kilometres an hour. When it became clear that the grizzly was heading straight for the kayaker, everyone fell silent. "Oh my god," one woman shouted.
A loud, high-pitched whistle starts blowing. The kayakers are ordered to start back-paddling away from the bear. The bear eventually swam away, and it was confirmed that "everyone passed through safely."
Too close for comfort! Watch as #Squamish #Grizzly Bear begins to follow #wedgerafting safety kayaker on Elaho River rafting tour Fri. #gopro footage shot/shared by my @TagWhistler guide. He’s never seen anything like it in 15yrs. #bearaware @BT_Vancouver @CityNewsVAN @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/qtNaiiMT44
Only two weeks ago, a kayaker was mauled by a grizzly bear near Creston, British Columbia. The kayaker, a man in his mid-twenties, was camping in the Kootenay River area at the time. He was treated in hospital for injuries to his arms, legs and head from the bear attack.
The safety kayaker was very lucky to get away on Friday.