Tag Archives: fishing

The remnants of Merbok…

…still packed quite the punch.

Graphic credit: NWS-Fairbanks

The western coast of Alaska was pummeled over the weekend by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok. Sustained winds over 50 mph, with gusts over 90; 50 foot waves and a storm surge 15 feet above high tide left many evacuating to higher ground.

Image credit: NOAA

It was the worst storm our Western Coast has experienced in 50 years, and it has been 70 years since a storm this fierce hit in September.

Front Street, Nome, Alaska; Image credit: S.Kinneen

To its credit, The National Weather Service was remarkably accurate in its forecast of the storm. Several days out, the NWS was getting out the word that this was going to be a devastating flooding event. All the ingredients came together perfectly to create some “very angry seas”.

A house swept off its foundation by flood waters, stuck at the Snake River Bridge in Nome, Alaska; Photo credit: Alaska DOT&PF
From the steps of the school in Golovin, Alaska; Photo credit: Josephine Daniels

High winds have taken roofs off of buildings, one building in Nome suffered from a fire, and the storm surge has evicted hundreds. Many took shelter in schools, or to higher ground.

My favorite village of Newtok has been flooded, and many have taken to the school for shelter. The riverbank at Newtok has eroded between 10-15 feet overnight. Newtok is one of several villages in Alaska in dire need of relocation due to erosion and sinking ground.

Water levels in many flooded villages are not expected to drop until Monday, and in some cases Tuesday. The timing of the storm is particularly difficult, with winter on the horizon. The village of Shaktoolik lost its sea berm to the storm, which leaves it vulnerable to additional winter storms. The village of Chevak lost much of its fishing fleet when boats sank or were damaged in the storm.

We really have two seasons in Alaska: Winter, and Preparing for Winter. Preparing for winter in Western Alaska is now going to be a huge challenge.


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.


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.


Bear Falls

A collection of fishing bears at Brooks Falls:

Brought to our attention by The Curator


Katmai Bear Cam

The Bear Cam at Brooks Falls within Katmai National Park is back up and running. It is brought to us every year by the fine folks at explore.org

The link is here:

https://www.explore.org/livecams/explore-all-cams/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls


Buffet

Image credit: Katmai National Park


Oncorhynchus Rastrosus

The Sabertooth Salmon:

Oncorhynchus rastrosus

The sabertooth salmon, now extinct, inhabited the waters off the Pacific Coast of North America 5-12 million years ago. Oncorhynchus rastrosus received its nickname from a pair of canine-like fangs that protruded outward from its snout.

Size comparison of the sabertooth salmon to man and today’s sockeye

The sabertooth salmon was huge, the largest of any salmonid to ever exist. Adults reached a length of 7.5 feet, and a weight of up to 400 pounds. Try dip netting for that beast.

Like today’s salmon, the sabertooth was thought to be anadromous, meaning they went from salt water to fresh water to spawn. O. Rastrosus would have shared the ocean with some rather large predators: Namely the Megaledon shark and the Livyatan, a predatory whale.


Otis retakes Chunky Crown

Otis enjoying a salmon meal

A little bit of controversy this year for Fat Bear Week. Otis beat out Walker for the fattest bear of Brooks Falls. This may have been a bit of a popularity contest in 2021, with Team Otis coming out in droves to vote for the fan favorite. With that said, it is hard to dismiss the amount of weight that Otis put on in just a few short months. It was a lot of poundage, especially considering that Otis showed up at the river later than usual this summer, and that he is now missing two canine teeth, and many of his teeth are worn down.

Congrats to the now 4-Time Champ, and best wishes in the off season.


Battle of the Bruins

Fat Bear Week Title Match:

Bear 480, more widely known as Otis

Otis is no newcomer to Fat Bear Week. A three time winner of the championship, Otis was the inaugural winner back in 2014. He also took the title in 2016 & 2017. First identified at Brooks Falls in 2001, he is one of the older bears in Katmai. A patient fisher, Otis rarely chases salmon, and has one of the higher catch rates at Brooks Falls. One of Katmai’s all-time fan favorites, the aging bruin once again appears in the finals.

Walker, or Bear 151

Walker first showed up at Brooks Falls in 2009 as a two year old. Once known as a tolerant, playful bear, Walker has become a lot less tolerant as he has aged. As he has grown into a larger, dominate male, Walker has realized he can throw his weight around to gain prime fishing spots. Estimated to have weighed in at 1000 pounds last autumn, Walker looks to be even bigger in 2021.

Voting for the title round takes place today. Polls close at 5pm ADT.

https://explore.org/fat-bear-week?fbclid=IwAR2bAe6uPjVl6RnBELlWRCMUfMhP8O5E8tg0lUNGuWK-Zwm-1YG5Wgy0L34

Images and descriptions courtesy of Katmai National Park and explore.org