Hi and welcome to our weekly Bear Cam blog. We will be publishing this blog every week with a review of the previous weeks Bear Cam highlights. Brought to you by your bear cam Mods, LaniH and GABear. This weeks highlight video can be viewed here.
There was a bit of a slow down in bear activity this week. While the salmon escapement into the Naknek River watershed is still strong, there haven’t been that many fish moving up the Brooks River. It’s thought that the record breaking warm temperatures may have warmed the river to a point that the salmon were less likely to want to swim upriver. Mike Fitz said this on the subject:
“The long, hot stretch of weather over Bristol Bay and the Katmai area might be impacting salmon too. Since escapements into Naknek River (where Brooks River’s salmon must come from to get here) have been high over the past week, I think that the slowdown Brooks River’s salmon migration could be attributable to warm water and the river is very warm right now. Warmer water temperatures increases a salmon’s metabolism and its need for dissolved oxygen. Warmer water holds far less dissolved oxygen than colder water too.
Salmon can cope by finding pockets of colder water to hold within until the water cools down. This wouldn’t be hard for the sockeye looking to migrate through Brooks River as they can rest (in) Naknek Lake just offshore of the river mouth until conditions improve for their migration”
When the salmon are ready to move upstream, it won’t take them long to get to Brooks Falls. Again, from Mike Fitz:
“It’s about 3/4 of a mile downstream of the falls, perhaps a little less. When motivated to migrate upriver salmon can reach Brooks Falls within a matter of minutes from the lower river area. In the ocean, sockeye regularly travel over 30 miles per day during their final 30-60 days at sea”
You can view daily fish counts here.
We did have some entertaining views from the many sub adults this week. This one slipped off the closed trail while playing around.
Another sub adult seemed to be vying for the nickname “Lefty, Jr” as he made a leap off the falls worthy of his namesake. If you are going to fall off the lip, may as well turn it into something fun, right?
Sub adults also demonstrated some interesting fishing styles at the Falls. One subadult found that the best way to fight against the current of the jacuzzi was to position him/herself right next to the falls. In hopes that a salmon may miss the jump and fall right in their mouth.
402 and her three yearlings were in cam view often this past week. The cubs waited (and posed for the camera) on the shore at the Riffles area for a long time one day.
Fishing with cubs near the falls means the sows with cubs must be extra vigilant to avoid the dominant male bears. 402 and her cubs had to get out of the way quickly when male 747 chased another male, 89 Backpack.
We had some new sows with coys show up this past week. One sow has three coy and is thought to be bear 273 but this has not been confirmed by Rangers. Some may remember that 273 is the mother of 809 :).
Another sow showed up with two coy. We have three sows with two coy – bear 171, an unknown bear that was photographed by Kara (Brooks Lodge Photographer) and one that could possibly be 719. When asked if 719 would be too young to have a litter of cubs Mike Fitz replied:
“Female bears in Katmai don’t usually reproduce at 5.5 years old so 719 is young to reproduce. However, this isn’t unprecedented. Brown bears are usually re-productively capable when they reach 719’s current age (5.5 years old), which is why bears are considered adults at that time.”
Another sow with two coy was spotted on the lower river late Friday (July 12) night. One of her coys seems to like riding on mom’s back when she swims in the river.
747 found waiting for the salmon to arrive at the Falls a tiring experience and took a nice long nap in view of the cams.
On another day, 747 was reminded by 68, that 68 is now more dominant as was seen in their fight last week. This reminder was mostly posturing and swatting, before 68 walked away, satisfied that he’d made his point.
503 was also asserting his dominance when he told 801 to stay out of the jacuzzi.
The cams caught another view of a wolf crossing the river. We’ve seen a wolf more often this summer than most other summers.
Late in the afternoon on July 12 the salmon finally started to migrate up Brooks River again. Later in the evening 854 Divot showed just how prevalent the salmon were. She ate upwards of a dozen salmon on the river bank and left many scraps for subadults and birds.
480 Otis was this weeks focus of Bears of Brooks Falls, watch it here.
Mike Fitz and Ranger John did a chat on the many different fishing styles seen along the Brooks river.
Mike Fitz has launched a Community Science Project called Are You There Brown Bear, where you can help monitor information about the bears you see on the cams. From the survey:
Biologists at Katmai National Park currently monitor bears from late June through July and again from late August through early October. These defined observation periods coincided with historical peak bear activity and abundance at the river. Even those are generally limited to six hours per day. No one has ever attempted to record the presence/absence of bears on the river through an entire summer. This community science project will supplement the Brooks River bear monitoring program by recording observations of bears during and outside official monitoring sessions, essentially extending one aspect of the bear monitoring program through an entire summer and beyond as long as the webcams are functioning. Follow this link to participate in the survey. Or you can enter your snapshot and info by clicking on “Community Science” after you take a snapshot.