Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography was photographing this bear when he became startled by what looked like a deployed parachute next to it. (Photo - Wayne Barnes)

Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography was photographing this bear when he became startled by what looked like a deployed parachute next to it. (Photo - Wayne Barnes)

Deployed parachute startles photographer near Tofino

“I, sort of, held my breath and then I looked around because I expected to find a body.”

Waynes Barnes would have been less surprised to spot Sasquatch than what he actually saw at Gunner Inlet near Tofino.

“If I’d seen [a Sasquatch] I wouldn’t be in disbelief, but a parachute? Who loses a parachute?,” asked the longtime photographer who operates Tofino Nature Photography.

Barnes was seeking out bears to photograph from his vessel at Gunner Inlet on April 26 and found one hanging out next to what he said was the weirdest thing he’s ever found in the roughly 30 years he’s spent capturing images of West Coast wildlife.

“I had to wait almost an hour for the bear to wander far enough away that I could get out of my boat and walk over and have a look and, sure enough, it was a parachute,” he said. “I, sort of, held my breath and then I looked around because I expected to find a body.”

He said the parachute was fully deployed and both canopies were significantly decayed, but added it had likely come apart while drifting in the ocean and had never actually been used.

“Just picking it up, pieces of it were falling off. It had the consistency of wet rice paper,” he said. “All the metal iron buckles have swollen to twice the size and I strongly suspect that both the main canopy and the backup chute have been inadvertently, by nature, deployed.”

After his initial interview with the Westerly News, Barnes explained he had asked around about his startling discovery and that, while he would not disclose what he had learned of the parachute’s origins, he does not believe any injuries were involved in it being lost.