Katmai National Park, Alaska - August 2010
I returned home at the end of August from the west coast of the USA having spent time in Katmai National Park photographing the Brown (Grizzly) bears. They were concentrating their efforts trying to catch Pacific salmon, which make their way up the rivers and streams to spawn. Each year the salmon attempt this hazardous journey to return to their place of birth where the female lays her eggs - these are fertilized by the males before both sexes die from exhaustion after their arduous journeys. On their way up stream they face many problems not least of all from the bears that are waiting to feast on them. The bears will need plenty of extra weight to enable them to hibernate in November when their metabolism slows down. They will emerge from their dens the following Spring. I, and a small party of photographers, watched from the banks of a shallow river which led directly into the sea, as the salmon proceeded on their perilous journey while the Grizzly bears of all size and age focused on catching the fish. There were very large males, also mothers with Spring cubs, young males and females, together with older cubs, all intent on feeding on the salmon. Sometimes squabbles broke out between the sows and their offspring when a salmon was caught - the youngsters making growling sounds as they were eager to have a share of the catch, but mum needed first feed to keep up her strength to cope with nursing cubs! One very large boar thought to be approximately fifteen years old was particularly adept with his fishing skills - he constantly dipped his huge head under the clear water (apparently unusual for most bears) enabling him to succeed in his efforts. We were told that a bear is able to consume up to 70 lbs of fish each day in order to increase its weight to the maximum before the harsh Winter sets in. More photographs can be viewed by following this 'LINK' to the Picture Gallery section of 'tigersinthe forest'.