Since the great thawing at the end of the last ice age, they have come. Salmon, driving themselves relentlessly up coastal rivers, for dozens, sometimes hundreds of miles. They starve themselves while undergoing the most impressive athletic feat any being on this planet performs. Mile after mile, they beat against the current, leaping great distances, their bodies torquing majestically in the air, water flinging from their fins, catching early morning light like little prisms, the salmon’s hooked mouths yawning in eagerness to arrive at their orgy of spawning, they can smell it, almost taste it, and…and…and… CRUNCH—into the jaws of a grizzly, standing there sopping wet, awkwardly shuffling to the river after a dawn of scratching itself and rolling in blueberry bushes.
Such is life for the salmon and, more importantly for us as this work week begins, the brown bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. Each June for the past few years, as the salmon begin their upriver migration along Brooks river, the park service has established cameras at Brooks Falls, a particularly scenic spot that gathers sometimes a dozen or more bears trying to fatten up on salmon in preparation for their coming winter slumber.
Today, June 14, 2021, is opening day for the bear cams.
Having an open tab dedicated to the bear cams is an early summer highlight, here at AJ. Every few hours, we click over, sometimes there are no bears, sometimes a handful, a flurry of activity as they try to bat the fish from mid-air, or do a kind of hop to trap them underwater, sometimes just catch them with their teeth. Just a bunch of bears, living their best lives while we type, type, type away.
Open a separate tab, and dive in.
Oh, and here’s a highlight reel from 2019.