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.
What a great week of bear viewing! Bears on every cam! All of them well fed on either the silver salmon that are still available and keeping bears at the falls busy, or on the dead and dying sockeye salmon who are finishing their spawning. A selection of highlights from the week can be seen on Explore’s This Week at Brooks Falls video. Check it out here.
At the falls, we regularly saw enough bears to make us think it was still July. All the big boars are still fishing there giving us great opportunities to watch them get fatter and fatter as the time for the Fat Bear Contest gets closer.
We can still see the dominance hierarchy in action, too. 856 continues to let all the other bears know that he is in charge. He has had encounters with almost all the other bears using the falls at one time or another. Usually this just involves a brief charge, some growling, and some backing off of the other bears. Occasionally there is an actual chase or some contact. Later, those involved will be seen fishing “peacefully” in fairly close proximity again.
151 Walker had a lengthy kerfuffle with 719 this week as they were both near the jacuzzi behind 503 who was fishing. Seems they both wanted to wait for his scraps. 719 was also seen being chased by 132 out on the spit when she got too close to 132’s coy.
We’ve also seen sows 409 Beadnose and 854 Divot at the falls. Both are looking nice and fat, but 409 especially seems to be trying for a spot in the FatBear Brackets. Not to be left out 128 Grazer also stopped by the falls to show us how hard she’s been working to win a fat bear spot.
409 Beadnose had some competition one day as she tried to fish her signature spot on the lip of the falls. Subadults 812 and 719 joined her. 409 was tolerant and nobody went over the edge.
Also seen on the cam at the falls this week was 89 Backpack. He hasn’t been a regular visitor, but fans were happy to catch a few views of him. Not surprisingly, 503 made him feel welcome by engaging him in a little “play” session. (Many long time viewers will remember that 89 was well know a few years back for his long play sessions at the Lower River with 32 Chunk!)
151 Walker and 503 had some long play-fighting sessions near the falls this week. On Thursday, 503 was also seen playing with two bears at the same time and found himself on his back with both bears biting his belly! Are there any lengths he won’t go to in order to get cam time? 😉
Subadult 812 seems determined not to be outdone by 503 in the entertainment department. Although we’re sure his moves while fishing the lip are serious business for him (and he does have a lot of success catching fish from there), to viewers they leave a lot of room for some fun! We think he may be making an audition tape for Dancing with the Bears!
A big highlight this week was seeing 402 return to the River with all 4 of her coy! The cubs are looking chubby and fluffy with their new winter coats. A significant change from how small and thin they seemed to us just a few weeks ago. A couple of them are very light colored. Quite beautiful to see. 402 showed us her diving skills again this week as well.
402 and her cubs were also seen in the riffles. Cam op found them on the far side of the river. 402 stepped out into the current and her cubs followed and were swept downriver. When cam found them again the cubs were swimming against the current and finally made it to the platform side of the river.
On Thursday evening cam viewers were treated to an extended visit from 402 and her coy. The coy spent a long time on the grassy point as 402 snorkeled and dove in the river. She and the cubs swam across the river and she continued to dive and snorkel.
Other sows and cubs seen this week were 482 and her three coy and 132 and her single coy. 435 Holly and her two big yearlings are also a presence in the Lower River on a daily basis. On Wednesday, viewers saw a sow with 3 cubs fishing in Naknek Lake. Views were distant and we couldn’t get a positive ID. On Thursday we saw a closer view and it looked like 94 and coy. We contacted Explore Fellow Mike Fitz and he confirmed that 94 and coy had returned to Brooks on September 19, so it seems possible the family seen on Wednesday was her as well. On Thursday evening a sow and two coy were seen out by the oxbow. Explore Fellow Mike Fitz stated he had seen 813 Nostril Bear and her two coy that evening so the sow and two could have been her. She was seen on Friday also, this time we got a better look and could tell it was her.
435 Holly and her yearlings had a few adventures this week. Her cubs were seen heading down spit road only to run into a Ranger or Lodge employee on their bike. The cubs followed him down spit road with 435 Holly bringing up the rear. 435’s dark yearling was seen on the far end of the bridge trying to chase a magpie off the top of the bridge gate. Early Thursday morning, 435’s yearlings were seen playing with a couple of subadults on spit road, the yearlings and subadults both didn’t quite know if they should be playing or if 435 was going to show up and ruin the fun.
Along with all the sows and cubs seen on the lower river there have been a bevy of subadults as well. They have kept cam viewers entertained by sleeping, whether it be just one, or in groups of 5. They have also been seen in various play sessions, from just one to groups of several together playing in the water.
On Monday evening the injured subadult with the limp kept cam viewers entertained for quite some time. The cam found the subadult napping near spit road looking so very cute. Later when the subadult woke up the real entertainment began. The subadult played with a stick, a rock, another subadult and finally a bunch of grass. It was so heartwarming to see the bear although still limping was feeling well enough to play.
The subadult that cam viewers have seen diving was actually caught on the underwater cam. Although the subadult got the spawned out salmon off the bottom he or she was not able to hang onto it.
We caught this pic of 503 and an unknown bear on the lip of the falls. It seems to beg for a caption. We’d love to hear your (family friendly 😉 ) caption ideas in the comments below the blog.
Mark your Calendars! It’s almost time! Fat Bear Week 2018 is coming October 3rd to 9th! The fattest bear will be crowned on Fat Bear Tuesday, October 9th. It’s never too early to start choosing and promoting your favorite candidate!
Katmai posted a webpage with some of your most frequently asked questions related to construction of the new bridge, which will be ramping up in the next several weeks. You can read it here.
Mike Fitz has done several broadcasts via Periscope. These can be replayed by going to this link and choosing the broadcast from the left side. You can also view any live broadcasts when they occur at this same link. If you have the Periscope or Twitter app on a smart phone or tablet, you can create an account and follow @exploreorg and receive notifications when a broadcast starts
Ranger Michael Saxton’s genetics live chat can be seen here.
Ranger Russ wrote a new blog about the return of the night sky which can be read here.
Are you a teacher? Check out this curriculum developed by Learning In Motion and explore.org about our wonderful Brooks River bears.