Category Archives: wildlife

Seven Sleeps Away

Katmai Fashion courtesy of Katmai National Park

We are one week away from Fat Bear Week in Katmai National Park. The bears continue to put on the calories prior to the competition.

The Fat Bear Junior competition is back from last year, and will take place September 29-30.

Will Otis repeat? Can “Wide-Body” 747 land the title in 2022? Should mankind take a cue from the bears and hibernate? All your chubby, bruin questions will be answered in October.

Stay tuned.


Happy Autumnal Equinox

Dall sheep in Denali National Park


Belugas Count! 2022

After a two year hiatus, the citizen scientist event, Cook Inlet Belugas Count, is back on for 2022. The event, hosted by NOAA, will take place Saturday, September 17.

“Bleacher” a female beluga whale with her calf in the Susitna River Delta; Photo credit: Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo ID Project

Canaries of the Sea: Belugas are quite vocal: They chirp, squeak, click and whistle. Alaska has five populations of the white whale, and the Cook Inlet population is the only one listed as endangered. At last count, the population was thought to be around 279 whales.

Beluga whales, like humpbacks, can be identified as individuals by their natural markings. Many are known by their numbers, and a few, like the bears of Katmai, have nicknames.

Members of the public are invited to join NOAA at stations around Cook Inlet to identify and count beluga whales. The event is free and open to everyone, and families are encouraged to join the beluga celebration. Details can be found on the Beluga Count facebook page.


Fashion Week in Alaska

Cover model: Otis; Cover credit: Katmai National Park

If you think we’re an odd bunch up here in the summer, just wait for the winter months.


Chunk is back

Chunk, also known as Bear 32, has made his appearance at Brooks Falls. As usual, he is one big bear.

Fat Bear Week, the annual bruin celebration from Katmai National Park, starts this year on October 5.


Alaska Mood

A particularly regal looking muskox

Happy Wild Salmon Day


Ten Years of Bearcam

The Katmai Bearcam; Image credit: explore.org

This week is the anniversary of the Katmai Bearcam. It went online 10 years ago as a partnership between The National Park Service and explore.org.

This access to the Brooks Falls Bears has led to the worldwide celebration of Fat Bear Week, and has certainly brought awareness to the rather independent lives of these bears of Katmai.

15,393 people went through NPS orientation at Brooks Falls in 2021. That same year, 10.9 million people tuned into the bearcam online.


Salmon Tales

Drying salmon in Lake Clark National Park; Photo credit: NPS

Alaska has two very different salmon stories being told in 2022. In one, the Bristol Bay Fishery is booming. Last year the salmon harvest set a sockeye record in Bristol Bay, and the region has already topped that record in 2022. Over 73.7 million sockeye salmon have returned to their spawning grounds in and around Bristol Bay, with over 56 million harvested.

The Yukon River basin, however, is headed for its worst run ever. The sonar station has never recorded such a low number of Chinook salmon, and the run for the entire drainage-wide system may only hit 50,000. Not one tributary is expected to make their escapement goals. Salmon fishing for the entire drainage, which includes the rivers in and around Fairbanks, has been closed for the entire season.

The chum salmon run, which starts in late summer, is also expected to be bad. The season will start out closed for fishing, with a hope that enough chum return to open for a fall season. No one is expecting it to open.


Bear Falls

A collection of fishing bears at Brooks Falls:

Brought to our attention by The Curator