Brooks Falls: Bears Eating Salmon

While planning our Alaska vacation,  I pictured Brooks Falls as bears snapping at leaping salmon. I know that bears eat to gain weight for winter hibernation, but I wasn’t quite ready for how the bears eat the salmon. At Brooks Falls, most bears eat the parts of the salmon with the most fat and nutrition, leave the rest, and go catch another salmon.

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Brooks Falls: Bears Fishing

We journeyed to Brooks Falls to watch brown bears fish for salmon. We saw bears employ several techniques to fish: stand and wait, dash and grab, and snorkeling.

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Brooks Falls: Brown Bears

At Brooks Falls in Alaska we were able to see brown bears much closer than at Denali. The bears were busy fishing and eating, making it easier to see their behavior.

The social order of brown bears seems to be like that of lions:

  • The alpha male is dominant
  • Key activities are eating and procreation
  • Mothers are devoted to their children
  • Youngsters play

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Brooks Falls

Brooks Falls is on the Brooks River, which connects two lakes in Katmai National Park. Shown above, a brown bear is looking at the falls and a bear upstream. We would finally get to see brown bears up close. Coastal brown bears have a rich fish diet and allows them to grow to 1200 pounds, 50% larger than the grizzly bears we saw in Denali.

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Float Plane to Brooks Falls

After visiting Denali on our Alaska vacation, we took a float plane to Brooks Falls, famous for its salmon and bears. Most of us hadn’t seen a float plane, which has pontoons to land on water. We crowded near the dock looking at the float planes landing, wondering which plane we’d take.

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