Grizzly Bear Diet – Salmon

grizzly bearA grizzly bear chomps on fresh sockeye salmon at the base of Brooks Falls in Katmai N. Park.  Grizzly bears employ a variety of techniques around the falls to catch salmon.  This grizzly was hanging out at the bottom of the falls in what we call the “jacuzzi” – a swirling tub of water where the waterfall pounds downstream.  Some bears sit there hoping a salmon will get trapped in the bubbles.  The grizzly bears wait in the jacuzzi with their arms under the water hoping that a disoriented salmon bumps into their front paws.  Then its time to eat.

When salmon is very abundant the skilled grizzly bears who catch lots of salmon will start only eating the fattiest parts of the fish – the brains, eyes, and skin.  They then drop the discarded salmon into the water where it is swept downstream to be eaten by smaller or less experienced bears, gulls, foxes, eagles and other scavenging animals.  When the salmon run is strong in July the air above the falls is filled with packs of screaming gulls and the more shy bald eagles wait patiently in the trees.

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