Today was an exciting day of bear watching! I actually had just turned on the bearcams to show my husband what I had been doing for my field observations, and when I pulled up the second camera at the Lower River, I was shocked to see a momma bear and two baby bears in the river! So a casual glimpse at the bearcams turned into a real field observation quite quickly! This was the first and only time I have been able to see a live shot of baby bears during my time watching the cameras at Katmai.

When I first saw the baby bears, they just looked like little bumps in the water behind the larger bear. Momma bear (I will refer to her as Bear M) is mostly blonde in color, with large ears and a smallish head. She doesn’t seem particularly large, perhaps because much of her fishing catches go to her offspring rather than feeding herself. The baby bears – I believe there were only two, though there may have been three – have fur that is darker in color than the momma bear, they are a dark brown color.


Momma Bear M and two baby bears in the water at the Lower River.


Momma Bear M stands up in the water, leading the baby bears out of the river.


Momma Bear M standing to see above the tall grasses.


Baby bears stand at the bank of the river while Momma Bear M fishes in the river.

At first, the baby bears were in the water with the momma bear, following her and swimming as she seemed to be fishing. Then she moved toward the bank, off to the right side and they followed her. She then got back in the water and proceeded to fish, as the babies sat in the grass along the bank. This can be seen clearly in the fourth photo below.

After this, the momma bear got back on land and they all started walking through the grass off to the left. The grass was so tall it was difficult to see the baby bears at times. At one point the momma bear seemed to be grooming the two babies, though I was unable to get a good screen shot of this. She was standing next to them, almost over top of them, and seemed to be licking them on the back and head.


It is difficult to see the small baby bears in the tall grasses, they are only possible to spot because they are so dark in color.


Momma Bear M (left) leads baby bears (right) through the tall grasses away from the river.

The whole time, the two baby bears stayed very close to each other, even when the momma bear was farther away from them. She would often walk in front of them, leading them along, while they walked a distance behind.