A large, male grizzly used an interesting “splashing” method to fish for salmon. He would leap in the air and land in a big belly flop. The force of his body created a huge splash which on several occasions pulled a handful of salmon up to the surface of the water.
Archive for Katmai National Park
Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park Alaska is the best place in the world to see grizzly bears fishing for salmon. A huge sockeye salmon run occurs each July, and all the grizzlies in the area know it. They congregate around the waterfall, where the salmon bunch up in an attempt to leap upstream over the falls. Some bears like the one pictured above wait for salmon to leap out of the water at the top of the falls. Other bears employee different techniques like sitting in a jacuzzi like whirl pool of water at the base of the falls. In the “jacuzzi” bears will catch salmon under the water using their paws. The salmon becomes disoriented in the whirl pool, and often end up in the mouths of bears. Less experienced grizzly bears will feed off the scraps that drift down stream.
One morning a thick fog rolled in obscuring our view, and interrupting the grizzly bears fishing. The Alaska coast is notorious for thick fog, and usually you can see fog rolling over the mountain tops in thick sheets. In a matter of minutes, the world turned grey and fuzzy. This is one reason it is hard to fly in and out of the Katmai Coast. We got stuck for four days on the coast one summer because the fog was so thick that bush planes couldn’t get in or out.
Sitka liked to sleep snuggled on top of her brother. Their mother would often leave the cubs near us when she waded out into the river to fish. One day she sat and nursed her cubs next to us. Many grizzly bears in Katmai National Park, where hunting is prohibited, have learned to trust humans. Click here to read more about these grizzly bear cubs.
This 3rd year grizzly cub – named Racer – takes a relaxing nap on the beach while using his mother as a foot rest. His mother Paula ia one of the most skilled bears at fishing for salmon – which meant Racer kept his belly full most of the summer. On the Katmai coast, many grizzly bear cubs stay with their mothers through their third summer. Inland, where food sources may be more scarce and competition for food higher, cubs might only spend two years with their mothers.
We spotted Racer the following summer on his own. He had grown much taller, stronger, and bigger. Just like his mother, he was catching fish left and right with ease. Read more about grizzly bear cub Racer and his mother in Katmai at www.grizzlybay.org