The bears are back!
A series of cameras set up near Brooks Falls in Alaska’s Katmai National Park have returned for the season, allowing armchair travelers to watch coastal brown bears catch and eat sockeye salmon.
The National Park Service says up to 25 bears have been seen on the camera at once in previous years, eating fish and fighting for prime salmon-catching spots.
The three cameras come courtesy of a $150,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation's Explore.org, which funds cameras and other projects in locations around the world.
One camera, above, is located at the falls itself. A nearby camera captures the action at the lower river, while a third is underwater, giving viewers a fisheye look at what it's like to become a bear's lunch.
Explore.org has a page where viewers can keep an eye on all three cameras at once, and even snap photos for sharing on social media.
The bears on the camera are coastal brown bears, larger cousins to the grizzly, and males can routinely weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They're also known for a wide range of fishing styles, from the "stand and wait" to the "dash and grab." Some bears will even beg for fish from other bears.
The National Park Service said there are at least seven different techniques used by the bears at Brooks Falls, and you can read more about them on the agency's FAQ page.
Brooks Falls is a popular hangout for brown bears as it's one of the region's first streams where pre-spawned salmon are ready to become bear food.
"Early in the salmon run, Brooks Falls creates a temporary barrier to migrating salmon," the National Park Service said. "This results in a particularly successful fishing spot for bears. Once salmon stop migrating in large numbers, Brooks Falls is no longer a good place to fish and bears quickly abandon that spot for better fishing elsewhere."
Along with eating fish, webcam viewers may get a glimpse of some other bear activity: June is the height of mating season.
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