The live webcam starring the bears of Katmai National Park and Preserve has returned, just as salmon runs reverse direction and the bruins begin gathering downriver in a final push to accumulate calories for winter.
For 15 days in July, explore.org and Katmai National Park presented live streaming video of Katmai's bears as they gorged on rivers full of salmon heading upstream to spawn. The camera focused on Brooks Falls, allowing people around the globe to get an up-close view of one of Alaska's most ancient cycles as it got into full swing.
In July, Explore.org founder Charles Annenberg said that with the bears and salmon project, he's trying to give "people all over the world (the opportunity to) study the brown bears and the migration of the salmon" without leaving the comfort (and safety) their homes.
But what goes up, must come down. After salmon finish spawning, the current gets the better of them whether they're alive or dead, and their carcasses move downstream. Spawned-out, exhausted or dead salmon are really easy to catch or scavenge, and the bears follow.
Katmai's bears have started gathering at the "lower river" viewing area, where the Brooks River flows into Naknek Lake, downstream from Brooks Falls, looking to tuck into the last of this summer's salmon.