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Brooks Falls Bearcam, Nature’s best reality show (LIVE VIDEO)

Written By | Jul 22, 2015

SAN DIEGO, July 22, 2015 – Americans love our reality TV. Admit it. You might be a fan of the talent shows, or the treasure hunting type shows, or the survival in the wilderness type shows. Put the best things you love from all three together and you get summer’s number one best reality show. It’s the Brooks Falls Bearcam, live daily on your nearest computer, tablet or smartphone from Katmai National Park in Alaska.

Hundreds of brown bears converge at this time of year on the Brooks River running through Katmai National Park and Preserve looking for a good meal. They spend hours every day fishing for stream-raised sockeye (red) salmon heading up river.

Brooks Falls is one of the best places in the world to watch brown bears because it is one of the first places in the region where bright, energetic, and pre-spawned salmon are available to bears. Early in the annual salmon run, Brooks Falls creates a temporary barrier to migrating salmon. This results in a particularly successful fishing spot for bears. Once salmon stop migrating in large numbers, Brooks Falls is no longer a good place to fish and bears abandon it for better fishing elsewhere.

See the live stream when it is active here.

Park rangers originally set up webcams from the viewing platform on a bridge overlooking the river thanks to a $150,000 grant. Today, all of the cams are installed on existing infrastructure at the park, either wildlife viewing platforms or radio repeaters. Two cameras are located at Brooks Falls at about the midpoint in the river. One camera is located 100 yards downstream of the falls at the Riffles. At the mouth of the river, two more cameras are attached to the Lower River Platform and one camera is underneath the floating bridge. Finally, one camera is located on near the summit of Dumpling Mountain.

The cameras operate during daylight hours from late June through the fall. The webcams fired up for the 2015 season in late June. The bears and the salmon along with the seagulls in the peanut gallery hoping for scraps never fail to put on nature’s best show.

Brown bears load up on sockeye salmon at Brooks Falls. Photo: National Park Service.

Brown bears load up on sockeye salmon at Brooks Falls. Photo: National Park Service.

It isn’t uncommon to see five or six large male brown bears at once positioned in prime fishing spots along the falls. As many as 25 bears have been seen fishing at Brooks Falls at the same time during peak periods later in July.

Katmai’s brown bears are most active between 5 a.m. and 12 midnight Alaska Daylight Time, which is 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. In summer, something can be going nearly any time. The scenery alone is spectacular and well worth viewing, including the occasional bald eagle. During Alaskan summers, sunset doesn’t take place until nearly midnight local time. Skip your favorite late night shows and catch the bears instead.

Bear number 489, "Ted," fishing near the Brooks Falls floating bridge. Photo: National Park Service, M. Fitz

Bear number 489, “Ted,” fishing near the Brooks Falls floating bridge. Photo: National Park Service, M. Fitz

Some bears return to Brooks Falls every summer. Regular viewers will begin to recognize individual bears, some of which have been given names including Ted, Otis. Lurch, and Holly, although they are officially identified by numbers. Ted is easy to spot because of the scar on his back.

Ranger Michael Fitz and his team help keep everyone updated on life for the bears at Brooks Falls on their informative blog. You can sign up for email alerts that will let you know daily when the webcams are live. You can also keep up with the Brooks Falls Bear Cams on Twitter with the hashtag #bearcam.

Bear number 747 enjoying his meal downstream from the falls. Photo: National Park Service

Bear number 747 enjoying his meal downstream from the falls. Photo: National Park Service

Bears can catch and eat a lot of salmon. A larger male bear may catch and eat as many as 30 salmon per day. They fish actively from late June through mid-October. Bears will wait patiently in a favorite spot in the whirlpools of the falls, snatching live salmon, or stroll along the falls looking for activity. When a bear catches a salmon, it will snack on the live fish as it wildly tries to escape the bear’s jaws. Circling sea gulls will pounce on anything that gets dropped into the water by a careless bear.

It seems like meditation to watch the bears as they go about their activity and the beautiful scenery. This year, the audio pickup of the rushing water is the best in several seasons. We get access any time we please as viewers to a remote part of our planet, watching Mother Nature at work in real time thousands of miles away. Forget wasting time on Candy Crush or cat videos. The Bearcams will draw you in and you’ll be hooked.

The webcams are solar powered and will stay on as long as sunlight and weather allow. The past few years, the cameras ran intermittently all the way through December.

 Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story. 

Copyright © 2015 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.