Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park is a kayaker’s worst nightmare. Below the falls, on top of the falls, and all along the banks are dozens of hungry grizzly bears. They’re feeding on spawning salmon making this rapid at least a Class VI. Even taking photos from the bank would be dangerous. It’s one of those scenes that a Planet Earth film crew would sit for days to get the perfect jaws-agape-as-a-salmon-leaps-into-fangs kind of footage. Now you can watch it from the comfort of your living room.
Explore.org first established the streaming HD footage of these feeding grizzlies for a two-week test period in 2012. Web traffic showed a healthy appetite for watching hungry bears. Millions of people tuned in. The bears became an internationally trending Twitter topic, which made them the biggest grizzly celebrities in the history of the world.
Now they’re back. The 2012 success has lead explore.org to launch six more cameras that are operated by remote control from nearby Brooks Camp Alaska, a local bear viewing station. There’s an underwater camera and an eye level cam, and they both provide access to what was once a very rare viewpoint of the feeding frenzy.
Watching it though, your first thought might be “When are they going to catch one?” Some of the bears seem to enjoy the massage of the rapids like they’re sitting on the jets of a Jacuzzi more than actively feeding on salmon. But that’s why watching is so mesmerizing.
These bears are unedited. We’re not shown all fang and claw. These cams provide the lesser-seen portrayal of docile grizzlies. Some of the bears seem like underdogs. They’re woefully ineffective in their claw swats for fish. Others choose expert positions, and you can see them scheming in their attempts. It’s surprisingly entertaining. With all of the gawk-centric, heavily edited footage featured in the media, films, and on the Internet, this live feed is a strange reminder of the rhythm and pace of the natural world.