This is what a flourishing wilderness looks like.
The internet-famous fat bears of Katmai National Park and Preserve have feasted on prodigious runs of salmon this summer. They’ve transformed from relatively gaunt animals into impressively fat bears, and Fat Bear Week — the celebration of the bears’ success before they hibernate — is still over a month away.
There’s almost always lots of salmon in the park’s Brooks River, where the explore.org cameras livestream the bears throughout the summer and fall. But in 2022, the bears benefited from a historic run of salmon into Bristol Bay, the carefully regulated and protected fishery that ultimately feeds the fat bears.
The feasting scenes in the river have been remarkable, even during August when the salmon run usually mellows out:
Many of these bears are expert fishers. They have tried-and-true techniques that allow them to catch bounties of 4,500-calorie sockeye salmon — sometimes 15 in just a few hours. Last year’s Fat Bear Week champion, “Otis,” doesn’t waste energy leaping after or chasing fish. He waits, with extreme patience, for fish to pass by. It’s clearly a successful strategy for the old bear:
Please enjoy the following footage of these victorious chonks.
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Remember to tune into the livestreamed fat bears in the coming month. They are champions in their wild realms. Even cats are entranced.