Katmai National Park’s Brown Bears Are Busy Bulking Up for Fat Bear Week—And You Can Livestream Their Progress

A brown bear fishing at Katmai National Park in 2018.
A brown bear fishing at Katmai National Park in 2018. / Ronald C. Modra/GettyImages

After emerging from their dens scrawny and starving in the spring, the brown bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve spend the summer packing on the pounds to prepare for their next hibernation season. Unbeknownst to them, they’re also bulking up to compete in Fat Bear Week, Katmai’s annual autumnal competition in which the public votes on which specimen looks the most impressively massive.

The 2021 crown went to an old veteran known as 480 Otis, who also won the very first contest in 2014 and back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. Though Fat Bear Week won’t roll around until early fall, you don’t have to wait until then to meet some of the prospects. As Mashable reports, Explore.org has already set up its “bear cams”—and you can livestream all the action online every moment of every day.

The action itself mostly consists of fishing. The brown bears station themselves in Brooks River and nab salmon after salmon as the freshwater rushes by. According to Explore.org, the best fishers can toss back some 30 salmon (120 pounds) a day. There are four cameras set up that each show a different section of the park, including an underwater salmon cam so you can see things from the fishes’ perspective.

Bears are no doubt the main event, but eagle-eyed viewers might also get to glimpse a bald eagle on occasion—or, if you’re really lucky, a wolf. And if you don’t happen to have uninterrupted hours to kill staring at bears, don’t worry. Explore.org posts all the can’t-miss highlights on Twitter.

You can check out the bear cams here.

[h/t Mashable]