The story of the wildlife at Brooks Falls starts with the sockeye salmon leaping the Falls to reach their spawning grounds. The fish attract brown bears fattening up for their winter hibernation, and people can watch the drama of the salmon and bears. Bald eagles dine on fish; they’re a bonus.
Anadromous fish, sockeye salmon are born in fresh water, migrate to the sea as juveniles, and return to their birth place to spawn before dying. They can grow up to 84 cm in length and weigh 2.3 to 7 kg.
Our first evening at Brooks Falls, we returned to the Falls after dinner and were surprised to find salmon jumping without preying bears. And there was some sun, rare for Alaska in the summer.
Shown in the video below, jumping the Falls not easy for salmon — most leaping attempts fail, even without salmon.
And then there’s more stress when the fish leaps out of the water and sees a 1,200 pound bear waiting.