Look for the bear (cam) necessities


I don’t know why I’m so drawn to Explore.org’s brown bear and salmon live-feed cam at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park in Alaska, but I find myself on there about once a day now that the salmon are making their way upstream to spawn.

I suspect part of the attraction is my fascination with the fish making spectacular, Herculean efforts to continue homeward, watching them propel themselves skyward in an attempt to clear the falls. And the bears are a lot more sedate than I thought they’d be, considering the bounty of possible snacks literally all around them; they just sit there, waiting for some unlucky fish to make its way basically into their mouths. Maybe they’re moving slow because they’ve already gorged on so much fish — like how we feel after a giant Thanksgiving dinner — but in this case they just Can’t. Stop. Eating. After all, they’re storing up food (especially fats) for hibernation. National Geographic says they can eat 90 pounds of food a day. I’d be moving a little slower, too.

Me last night: “Why are you facing the wrong way, bear? Turn around and pay attention!”

Then I remind myself that I am rooting for the salmon in this scenario. When one of the bears decided to hang out at the top of this stretch of Brooks Falls, instead of below with the others, I wanted to cry foul play.


Can you imagine being the poor salmon in that scenario? You’ve just avoided a pack of predators while trying to hurtle yourself over an obstacle several times your own height … and when you finally succeed, exhausted, suddenly there’s another hungry bear up there, ready to swipe you into its mouth. NOT FAIR. I may have told Not Fair Bear that he needed to join his compadres down below. He did, although I suspect it was because he saw more fish down there, and not because of my telepathic outrage.

Also, it takes bears a lot longer to eat a fish than I would have thought. They seem to take particular pleasure in, well, stringing the process out, instead of gulping it down. Let’s put it this way: I ate a sandwich tonight faster than a bear ate a salmon. (And I was very glad it was peanut butter, because I don’t think I could have stomached a meat-based sandwich at that moment.)

So, if you need a little serenity — I mean, except for the occasional evisceration (it usually happens a little underwater, if that helps you be less squeamish!) — try it yourself. I find it strangely soothing.

WHAT SAM WORE: 7-17-13
shirtA120610 pants032712 shoes1221
The shirt: Vintage Le Tigre polo shirt, from Buffalo Exchange.
The pants: Light-wash slim straight jeans, from Uniqlo in New York.
The shoes: “Tumble” loafers by J. Shoes, from a now-defunct website.

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