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The salmon run is almost over at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska, but there are still a few bears trying their luck. If you don't see any, check back. Kids and the kid in you will love it!

Live cam: Brown bears and grizzlies fishing for salmon in Alaska

Best viewing times: 6:30 AM to 11:30 PM Alaska Standard Time (AKST).  There are 18 to 19 hours of daylight in the Katmai Park area right now, but I've seen more bears in the evening and early morning EST.

Time conversions:  PST is 1 hr ahead of AKST. CST is 3 hrs ahead of AKST. EST is 4 hrs ahead of AKST.  

The cam was down for awhile and now it's back up.  If it doesn't work for you, try later.  You won't want to miss this show.

Walk the trail past the cleverly stylized orange bear paw print for more info.

We are viewing brown bears. I've been doing research and I'm still not clear if we are watching one subspecies or two.  Some are lighter brown, larger and with the hump on their front shoulders characteristic of the grizzly and when I see those characteristics, that's what I call them.  It doesn't matter though -- they're all brown bears.

Wikipedia: Brown bear

There are several recognized subspecies within the brown bear species. In North America, two types are generally recognized, the coastal brown bear and the inland grizzly bear, and the two types could broadly define all brown bear subspecies. An adult grizzly living inland in Yukon may weigh as little as ...180 lb..., while an adult brown bear in nearby coastal Alaska living on a steady, nutritious diet of spawning salmon may weigh as much as ....1,500 lb....
The grizzlies are solitary, only coming together for the salmon runs.  In the comments below the cam there were locals who said that people walked the same trails as the bears when they came to watch them and that there had never been a problem.  When I was watching a couple of days ago the camera panned downstream and I saw fishermen in the water not that far away.  The bears didn't pay any attention to them at all which is a very good thing.  Even in the water the bears are fast and powerful.

In the comments below the cam Ranger Roy stated:

The salmon run is about the same as last year, which was average. The intensity of the run varies from day to day and hour to hour. The bears are getting plenty of salmon, but will soon be following the run as it moves past Brooks Camp. These salmon mostly spawn in September, so the bears will return in September to eat the dead and dying salmon. Even the oldest, youngest, slowest, and most unskilled bears feast like kings in September.
If there isn't any action, all of the explore.org cams are shown below the Brooks Falls cam.  You can run your cursor over the picture to see what the cams are watching and where they are located.  The bears we are watching now are males. The cam picture of the female bear and cubs is the lower Brooks River where all the bears will be fishing in September. I can't wait for that show!

It's been fascinating watching the bears interact.  A couple of nights ago there was a large grizzly on the far side of the falls that seemed to have a temper.  There were about 6 or 7 bears clustered there, one of them caught a fish and the griz charged.  He pretty much cleared the pond for a few moments. The other bears came back quickly and very carefully -- that must be a really good spot -- but they were doing it with an eye on the big, grumpy one.  Then later he got into a muzzle to muzzle shoving match with another one.  One of the bears wanted to turn around and thought he was too close so he backed away and then let himself float out of range of the griz.  It's so interesting to watch them interact.  They are all very careful with each other, even when they get close -- except for that one large bear.

I was especially impressed with the ones that stood on the edge of the falls with the water rushing against them.  They leaned out to catch fish jumping up the falls and if they caught one just turned around and walked upstream against the current.  

Some of them sit in the fast water and wait.  As MKS said, "The bears remind me of a bunch of old men sitting in the jacuzzi at the gym...."  

I also saw one of the brown bears "snorkeling" for salmon by walking around with his head underwater, raising his head for a breath, then snorkeling some more.

Bears will eat plants, insects and animals -- the rich, fatty salmon help them to fatten up before they begin to hibernate in October or November.  They will go without water and live on that fat for 5 or 6 months.

According to What do Bears Eat?

Not all grizzly bears hibernate, but those that do make sure to pack on the weight before they settle in for a nap. Grizzly bears gain an average of 400lbs before hibernating. Because they have more body fat than black bears, many grizzlies do not sleep through the whole winter, and some don't hibernate at all! Unlike the more herbivorous black bear, grizzlies are capable of hunting through the winter in some regions. Both bears, however, are much more peaceful than their reputations would suggest, and are masters of collecting food from any source available.
Grizzlies are a keystone species who add more to the environment than would be expected by their numbers and help keep it in balance.
Grizzly bears play a highly complex role in ecosystems.  In addition to predation on elk and moose calves, grizzlies disperse seeds over large areas, and contribute to nutrient cycling.  Dubbed “ecosystem engineers” by some, the foraging activities of grizzly bears may build or change the ecosystem.  For example, coastal brown bears transfer salmon-derived nitrogen into riparian ecosystems when they kill, move, eat, and leave some fish in the forest.

Researchers in Canada found that the relationship between the bears and salmon plays an important role in nearby forests.  They found a difference in the plants that grew along steep sided river banks that didn't receive the nitrogen from salmon and concluded that this information allows them to create better conservation plans.

....A study of 50 watersheds in the Great Bear Rainforest on British Columbia's central coast says bears, fish-catching wolves and other predators haul huge amounts of salmon into the forest that provide a potent "nutrient subsidy" that drives plant growth in the surrounding forest.

Nitrogen released by the fish favours some plants -- such as the aptly named salmonberry -- while pushing out other species....

Bears, wolves and other predators "can transfer more than 50 per cent of the salmon to the forest," they report. The rest of the fish, which die after spawning, either rot along the stream banks or are washed downstream....

The host for this remarkable cam is explore.org. There is so much at this site and I have touched just a bit of it. They offer films, live cams and a way to reach out to others and find a community that shares your spirit and interests.
explore is a multimedia organization that documents leaders around the world who have devoted their lives to extraordinary causes. Both educational and inspirational, explore creates a portal into the soul of humanity by championing the selfless acts of others...

explore features a wide range of topics—from animal rights, health and human services, and poverty to the environment, education, and spirituality. Delivered in short, digestible bites, explore films appeal to viewers of all ages, from children learning about other cultures for the first time to adults looking for a fresh perspective on the world around them.

I appreciate explore.org hosting this incredible opportunity to see the wild beauty of the brown bears.  Enjoy!

Originally posted to ParkRanger on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 10:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town.

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