'I just couldn't believe it:' Photographer captures Saskatoon beaver bursting through ice 'like Superman'
SASKATOON -- A Saskatoon-based beaver has become a viral video star after a local photographer and nature enthusiast filmed it bursting through a frozen pond last week.
“She just sort of exploded through the ice like Superman and I knew right away it was a really great thing to have caught on camera,” Mike Digout said.
He said the mama beaver then made a not-so-graceful exit when trying to climb out of the hole she made in the ice.
“She stumbled and slipped and looked a lot less powerful than she did coming through the ice.”
The beaver can then be seen nabbing a nearby branch and heading back down into the water.
Digout visits the pond on the Meewasin Valley trail almost every day to capture photos and videos of the family of beavers that live there.
When the weather got colder and the pond froze over, Digout wondered what that would mean for the beavers. He then started noticing that after having a snack, the mama beaver would swim around and strategically choose areas to break the ice.
(Courtesy Mike Digout)
“I just couldn’t believe it. They’re so clever, they understand their habitat so well.”
Digout said he tried for two days to get a shot of her in the act but was unsuccessful. Finally, on the third day, he got lucky.
“I had a hunch where she was going next to break the ice and I could see her body moving under the ice so I hustled. I literally ran to a spot, pressed click on my video camera.”
That’s when he captured the video that’s garnered not only local attention but has also attracted national and international audiences — something that was a huge surprise to Digout.
First, he shared it on his own social media pages last Friday then submitted it to the Weather Network. Since then, it has also been shared on ABC News, the London Daily Mail and the New York Post. The ABC News video alone has gotten over 500,000 views.
“I thought well, that’s half a million people that are getting to witness this magical spot in Saskatoon and this crazy fun mama beaver that entertains me everyday,” Digout said.
He said he began taking photos of the beavers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as a hobby. Now, his Facebook page has inspired children, families and so many others to come down to the pond to see the beavers for themselves.
It took three attempts for Mike Digout to capture his now-famous video. (Dan Shingoose/CTV News)
“Those children got a really up-close, personal experience watching mama beaver do beaver things and you can learn more about nature that way than reading a book,” he said.
“Bikers, hikers, dog walkers stop and enjoy these beavers and the more people that get that kind of thrill out of it, the happier I am.”
He added that his photos and videos have also helped people who aren’t able to go out and explore nature themselves right now.
(Courtesy Mike Digout)
“A few people reached out to me on Facebook and said you know what, I really appreciate seeing these glimpses of your life because I’m a senior who can’t get out in the pandemic and I would love to be out looking at these things myself and your videos make me happy.”
Digout said he plans on continuing to visit the beavers as much as he can before they go in for the winter and will be back out again as soon as the ice starts to melt in the spring.
The Meewasin Valley Authority and the Ministry of Environment told CTV News that while the moment Digout managed to capture seems extraordinary, it’s fairly routine behaviour for beavers during this time of year as they get settled for the winter, gathering food and materials.