- Salmon are known for undergoing extensive, intense migrations that involve swimming thousands of miles, occasionally even upstream.
- Despite being relatively immune to the navigational difficulties nature presents them with, salmon still face one particularly persistent predator in the course of their spectacular journey: hungry bears!
- In this captivating footage below you’ll get to witness a grizzly bear feeding frenzy as a school of salmon fight to outswim their assailants.
We’ve all read that grizzlies love a salmon snack but you won’t have seen anything quite like this! Scroll down to watch the full video of over 20 bears gathering for a fish feast!
Grizzlies and Their Diet
Grizzly bears (Ursus Arctos Horriblis) are a native species of North America and are easy to spot by their muscular shoulder hump and their slightly silver, or grizzled, appearance. They are a type of brown bear and can grow up to 700 pounds. Grizzlies are a threatened species and are extinct in California. This footage was captured at Brooks Falls in Alaska where they tend to move around to follow food sources. Whilst this is sometimes referred to as a ‘migration’, these bears do not actually migrate. They just gather in certain areas when food is plentiful. In Alaska, the spring sees them on low elevation south-facing slopes and riparian forests where they can eat early green vegetation and hunt moose. In summer you will find many of them fishing for salmon! This is when the salmon head upstream to spawn and to do this they have to leap up waterfalls. As they leap, they are an easy catch for a quick-witted bear.
Feeding Time for the Bears
Grizzly bears are usually solitary animals but are willing to gather together to share such a plentiful source of food. In this clip, you can see bears wading in the water. Many of them are just above a shallow waterfall so that they can intercept the salmon as they try to leap. The bears are staring intently at the water!
Watch closely and you will see a salmon leap straight into one bear’s grasp. The fish is flapping around in the bear’s mouth as it tries to back away from the waterfall. The bear tries to hold the salmon steady in its front paws so that it can eat it.
Brown bears are omnivores – they eat plants and other animals. They need as much as 90 pounds of food each day. Grizzlies eat berries, grasses, roots, and fungi. They also find insects and mice if they can. However, these powerful animals are perfectly capable of hunting larger prey such as the moose and elk. These bears, however, seem to be rather keen on salmon!
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