The salmon are running at Brooks Falls

July 31, 2012 • 8:52 am

Keep your eye on BearCam today: in just the few minutes I’ve watched, I’ve seen a bunch of salmon jump, and a brown bear caught one. This truly is an amazing spectacle, and very soothing somehow. It’s the theater of evolution: salmon have evolved to fight their way upstream from the sea, leaping waterfalls to get to the spawning grounds, and in so doing must run a gamut of predatory bears who have learned to take advantage of fish reproduction. I wonder if there’s any aspect of salmon behavior that the bears are selecting for. . .

A screenshot with a leaping salmon:

12 thoughts on “The salmon are running at Brooks Falls

  1. “I wonder if there’s any aspect of salmon behavior that the bears are selecting for …”

    I was wondering the same thing last night. There were upwards of nine bears fishing. Three of the bears were lined up (with one bear behind another). The bear closest to the falls caught a fish and the seemingly lost it. The bear behind him caught it but then dropped it. Now the third bear had it in his mouth but, you guessed it, he dropped it also.

    Though it was probably just one feisty salmon and three inexperienced bears, my mind was curious as to how three bears could coincidentally drop the same fish or was there a reason why none of the three bears wanted to eat that fish.

  2. This truly is an amazing spectacle, and very soothing somehow.

    It IS very soothing. I felt exactly the same way when I first saw it.

    I think it’s because the bears show such amazing patience in their efforts to catch that elusive meal of juicy sashimi. The “white noise” effect of the water rushing past also contributes to the peace I feel when watching.

    I love raw salmon! If reincarnation wasn’t just a fish story, I’d definitely be a bear in my next reincarnation, given the choice. A tiger would also be cool, but then I’d have to constantly pose for pictures on Jerry’s website.

  3. I wonder if there’s any aspect of salmon behavior that the bears are selecting for

    That is why I’m so glad there are _so many_ mosquitoes around. What if we selected for speed/stealth?

    1. After the widespread use of insecticidal paint inside houses on bedroom walls, mosquitoes were selected for not landing on walls to digest their blood meal after feeding and the effectiveness of insecticidal paint went down.

  4. Right now 7 bears fishing. Just watching one above the falls eating its latest catch. Earlier a larger kept chasing a smaller one away from the center. The smaller one spent some time sitting on the rock in the middle before walking away to the left. The larger bear then tried to take a salmon away from another smaller one. Also saw one bear catch a salmon straight to its mouth as the salmon leapt up the falls. I think the bear was a little startled himself. I’m finding it oddly soothing to have on my screen and wish I could have it work.

  5. The bears are facing upstream much of the time. That means, often, a salmon swims past a bear, attempts to jump a vertical obstacle, and if it fails to clear the obstacle the bear has seen it and can watch where it disappears under water again.

    For the bears facing downstream, they seem to be trying to catch salmon in mid-jump.

    So, more accurate, low-trajectory jumps and an ability to recognize bear legs in the water and steer clear.

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