Anyone with an Internet connection can now watch brown bears — the iconic symbols of the Alaskan wilderness — catching salmon in Katmai National Park.
The high-definition video feeds are streamed 24 hours a day from four locations at Brooks Camp and were set up by the park and explore.org, a philanthropic media organization.
Katmai has the largest run of wild sockeye salmon in the world and is known for its thriving brown bear population. Brown bears are the bigger coastal form of inland grizzlies.
"A trip to Katmai National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most people, and for nature and bear lovers and children everywhere, it is an impractical proposition. By installing live cams we are giving people the chance to experience the bears, learn from their behaviors and develop the same strong emotional connection almost everyone who comes here has," said Ranger Roy Wood of the National Park Service.
The live cameras stream footage from several locations at Brooks Camp. The Brooks Falls cam is situated on the banks of a 5-foot high waterfall, where as many as 30 bears were seen at one time in July. A second camera is located at the mouth of the Brooks River, where about 100 bears ate salmon and raise their young this summer. The Riffles cam was placed in an area where the water level is lower, making it safer for mothers and their cubs, and the Dumpling Mountain cam provides a bird’s-eye view of the area.
While there's still some action at the Brooks Falls locations, the bulk of the bears will be located in an area dubbed "the lower river," where Brooks River flows in to Naknek Lake. This where sockeye salmon come to spawn and bears converge by the dozens to fatten up for winter. These cameras will be live through the first week of October when the bears begin to prepare for hibernation.
The high-definition cameras are powered by solar and wind power and use no outside electricity to transmit footage to viewers. In addition to the live feeds, explore.org will also post highlights of the brown bear footage, as well as interview sessions with Wood.
The webcams are explore.org’s latest addition to its Pearls of the Planet initiative, a collection of live video feeds installed worldwide to help people connect with nature.
"To me, Alaska is one of the last great natural cathedrals on the planet — and the bears and salmon are the high priests in a sacred place," said explore.org founder Charles Annenberg. "We hope people turn to this for inspiration and when they do, they will see lessons these creatures have for us about cohabitation, instinct and beauty."
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