After my first attempt at field observation, I was a bit disappointed, so I hoped for a better experience today when I logged on to the Brooks Falls Live webcam to see if I was able to observe any brown bear activity. Katmai National Park is 3 hours behind my home in New Orleans (GMT -5:00), which puts it at GMT -8:00, so I planned my watching times accordingly. To my delight, I saw several different bears fishing at Brooks Falls today, observed many successful catches, and, frankly, became completely mesmerized by the bearcams. If you haven’t already checked them out, I highly recommend it. Almost any time I logged on throughout the day, I was able to see some bears. I’m going to focus my notes on three bears that I specifically saw fishing today, between approximately 10:45am and 11:35am local time at the Park. Unless (and until) I can identify their sex, I’ll refer to them as Bear C, Bear D, and Bear E.

Bear C at the Jacuzzi

Bear C arrived from the near bank of the Falls, and walked up along the bank and then into the river close to the falls, taking up a position in the jacuzzi. (Bear E can be seen in the background of the first photo, at the Far Pool, while Bear C is entering the river from the left side of the screen.) This bear seems relatively dark for this time of year, since most bears are lighter in the spring through July and become darker in the fall (though admittedly this could be because it was already wet), with a somewhat short snout, dish-shaped head and wide-set ears. The bear sat somewhat low in the water, it seemed, and ducked its head several times into the water in tandem with grabbing motions with its paws to attempt to catch fish. It caught at least two fish while I was watching it, staying at the jacuzzi for approximately 12 minutes before walking downstream in the water, with the second fish still in its mouth. If Bear C is female, this  second fish could be being taken to one or more cubs waiting downstream.

Possible IDs: #402, #218, #856

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Bear C entering the river at Brooks Falls from the near bank.

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Bear C in “the jacuzzi” as salmon can be seen leaping up the falls.

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Bear C looks toward the bank of the river, seemingly toward the camera (in the same direction as the visitor observation area at the Park).

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Bear C ducks its head into the water to catch a fish.

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Bear C eats the first caught fish.

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Bear C eating the second caught fish, just before it gets out of the jacuzzi to walk downstream.

Bear D at the Lip

The second bear to successfully catch fish while I was watching today was Bear D. Bear D arrived from the same side of the river as Bear C, but instead of going to the jacuzzi, this bear climbed up the side of the Falls and walked across the top of them to the area known as “the lip”. (Bear E can still be seen in the background as Bear D arrives). From this point at the lip, it seems as though the salmon virtually jump into the waiting mouths and paws of the bears! At first I thought perhaps it was Bear C coming back, but it only took a second to realize this was a different bear. Bear D is more blonde in color, with a longer snout, giving the head a more triangular look from the profile view. Bear D may also be a bit smaller/less heavy than Bear C, which could be an indication that Bear D is female and Bear C male, or if both are the same sex, perhaps Bear D is the more juvenile of the two. Bear D stayed at the lip for at least 18 minutes, successfully catching two fish during that time, as I watched. At one point while eating the first fish, the bear raised its head and looked off toward the far pool/downstream with an open mouth. The sound on the live video wasn’t synced properly, so I wasn’t able to tell if the bear made any sound or if it was just raising its head to look at something, and happened to have an open mouth. It would have been interesting to know if the bear had made any kind of sound, but it didn’t appear to as far as I could tell. Bear D (like Bear C) ate the first fish and walked out of the river and off-camera with the second fish. Again, this could mean that if Bear D is a female, that the second fish is being taken to one or more cubs waiting for her off-camera.

Possible IDs: Forthcoming

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Bear D arriving at the Falls from the near bank.

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Bear D approaching the Falls, is a more blonde color than Bear C.

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Bear D makes its way along the top of the Falls.

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Bear D fishing for salmon at “the lip” of the falls.

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Bear D eats the first caught fish, having moved it from the lip to a flat rock nearby.

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Bear D raises its head with an open mouth while eating the first fish.

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Bear D leaves the river with the second caught fish in its mouth, goes off-camera.

Bear E at the Far Pool

The third bear I observed today was at the far pool. It can be seen in some of the screen shots of both Bear C and Bear D. Bear E is somewhat harder to describe, given that it is farther away from the camera than the other two have been. However, at one point, after both Bear C and Bear D had left, and Bear E was the only one at the Falls, the camera zoomed in to where Bear E was standing and it was possible to get a much better look at what it looked like and what it was doing. Bear E also seemed to be large, more similar in size to Bear C than Bear D, and of a shade somewhat in between the two, a light brown. It also seemed to have a shorter nose like Bear C, but very light blonde-colored ears that seemed somewhat widely set, though this was difficult to tell because there was not an opportunity to view the bear straight on. This bear seemed to have a more prominent shoulder hump than either of the other two bears, though still not a very large one. I watched this bear for approximately 13 minutes, and during that time Bear E successfully caught at least one fish before I logged off the webcam for the day.

Possible IDs: Forthcoming

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Bear E at the far pool looking for salmon.

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Bear E lunges at a fish in the far pool.

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Bear E at the far pool, a slightly more straight-on view of the face.

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Bear E’s successful catch.