Watch a Fierce Grizzly Battle Over Whale Carcass Feast

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: April 16, 2023
© Erik Mandre/
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Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Key Points:

  • Bears communicate by establishing a hierarchy when they encounter other bears by posturing.
  • Bears eat almost anything – including carrion.
  • Alaskan brown bears are expert fishermen and can often be seen standing in rushing water catching salmon.

Whales and bears are not two animals that you would normally expect to encounter each other very often but that is what we see in this fascinating footage. Nearly two million have watched this absorbing video that was shot in Katmai National Park in Alaska which is an important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears. In this stunning location, we see a fight breaking out over a whale carcass!

kodiak vs grizzly
Alaskan brown bears are superb fishermen but will eat almost anything – including carrion.

© Bray

Bears Go Fishing

The Alaskan brown bears in the Katmai National Park have a plentiful supply of salmon to eat and many bears are adept at fishing. However, they also eat a lot of other foods and have a varied diet. Brown bears are considered one of the most omnivorous animals on earth and will eat almost anything.

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That includes grass, fruit, and flowers, small mammals such as squirrels, and injured animals that they come across including baby deer. They are also pleased to eat carrion and a huge whale carcass on the shoreline would be too much for them to resist! It would provide them with a lot of meat at the water’s edge without them having to go to the effort of fishing for themselves.

To look for fish, bears will usually search in shallow pools where salmon are resting. They can also be seen standing in river currents and pouncing on fish as they are swimming or waiting on shores and scooping up fish that are thrown sideways by strong currents.

Fighting Over a Dead Whale

There is plenty of meat to go around in this large carcass, but things turn pretty nasty. At the start, two large male brown bears are strutting around and trying to act like the dominant male on the shore. Meanwhile, a few cubs happily feed on the whale, a sow (female), and her single yearling cub.

Tensions start to rise when a male approaches with a side-stepping walk that signifies that he thinks that he is in charge and this clearly irritates the sow. The cub runs away but she decides to take him on and seems to be holding her own. But then, helps arrives!

Another male rushes in and attacks the first male. It turns into a classic bear wrestling match as they try to sweep each other’s legs away to knock each other off balance. There is a lot of growling and in-your-face aggression. Body language is super important in bear communication – body posture and movement are a big part of this. Eventually, the dejected loser slopes off into the forest. At the end of the vid is a superb replay in slow motion so that we can truly appreciate the fighting moves of these two magnificent creatures.

Where Do Grizzly Bears Live?

Two Grizzly Bears fighting in water
Grizzly bears, also known as North American brown bears, are found in North America primarily in Alaska and Canada.


Grizzly bears, also known as North American brown bears, are found in North America primarily in Alaska and Canada, but also in small populations in the continental United States, primarily in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and a small population in Washington state.

How Long Do Grizzly Bears Live?

Grizzly bears can live up to 25 years in the wild, but their lifespan is typically shorter around 20 years. In captivity, they can live longer, up to 30 years.

Is it Normal for Bears to Fight Each Other?

Bears communicate by establishing a hierarchy when they encounter other bears. With bears, it’s all about attitude and winning alpha dominance. A bear will try to intimidate his opponent but will not fight to the point of injury unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Do Grizzly Bears Often Eat Whale?

During the autumn, while they wait for hibernation, grizzlies will take to eating whale carcasses, either washed up or discarded from local fishing communities in Alaska. It is definitely a yummy meal for this predator.

However, more fights often break out between grizzly bears and polar bears, as the latter has been forced to forge for food on land during summer and fall because of retreating sea ice. Polar bears are often seen as solitary hunters, but as many as 20 can harmoniously share a carcass. When the grizzlies arrive, the scene can get ugly. Despite their noticeably smaller size, grizzly bears are quite aggressive and will chase the polar bears away, not willing to share. There are concerns the aggressive behavior of grizzly bears could put polar bear populations under even more stress.

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two grizzlies fight
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About the Author

Sharon has a Ph.D. in Public Health but has spent the last decade researching and writing about all things connected with animal health and well being. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a very energetic Cocker Spaniel but in the past she has also been a Mom to Guinea Pigs and several cats!She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and reviewing products that make pet owners' lives a bit easier. When she isn't checking out new pet products she's trekking around the Welsh mountains and beaches with her dog - although she lets her husband and her three grown up daughters tag along sometimes if they are lucky!

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