Ten Years of Bear Cam and Counting

Last summer, explore.org celebrated the 10th anniversary of the bear cams at Brooks River in Katmai National Park. These webcams offer an in-depth look at the behavior and ecology of a population of brown bears, allow us to observe the same individual bears over many years–giving us the chance to learn about their personalities and habits–and provide a platform for rangers and other experts to host live programs and commentary about the bears and their stories. It’s a wildlife watching experience like no other.

As part of the celebration, I chose to highlight some the moments that I thought were most memorable from the last ten years of bear cam. Some explore point-in-time events. Others celebrate the behavior of individual bears who have left their mark on Brooks River in ways we can’t forget or ignore. Each was unforgettable from my perspective. I hope you enjoy them.

Most Defensive Mother: 128 Grazer 

Grazer is an archetypal mother bear. Don’t get in her way and don’t approach her cubs.

Lefty Learns to Fish at Brooks Falls

Old bears can definitely learn new tricks. In July 2015, we watched a fully mature adult male brown bear figure out how to fish where he’d never fished before.

Otis Eats 42 Salmon in a Sitting

Be awed by the capacity of his stomach.

Death of 451’s Spring Cub

When a bear cub falls ill the world will watch.

503’s Saga

A lone yearling finds a new family.

Reign of 856

Few bears will ever experience the prolonged dominance and advantage earned by 856.

2020 Salmon Smorgasbord

What happens when bears have access to unlimited salmon? The 2020 salmon run gave us the answer.

History of Fat Bear Week

A goofy idea becomes a world famous internet sensation.

We are Family: 909, 910, and Cubs

Sister bears reunite while raising cubs to create an extended family.

If that’s not enough, the bear cam community complied links to all of our bear cam live events from 2022. Two stand out in my mind: 1. The impromptu Q&A about a fight between and mother bear and a dominant male, and 2. The bear cam 10th anniversary live chat.

We’ve seen a lot of special moments on the cams during the last ten summers–perhaps too many to recall–so these are only a small snippet of the larger story. What are your most memorable moments from the bear cams?

12 thoughts on “Ten Years of Bear Cam and Counting

  1. Speaking of Grazer, I still can’t get over last year when she sent 83 Wayne brother over the cliff. Fortunately, he is exceptionally resilient! A non-bear highlight for me was the walk around (and into) the falls you took with Ranger Roy. What a great perspective you gave cam viewers.


  2. Mike, I want to thank you so much for all that you have taught me over the years. I was a complete novice when I accidentally found the bear cam and am now totally addicted thanks to you and explore and the wonderful rangers and cam ops. Thank you!


  3. Mike,
    thanks so much for these special memories. Your commentaries were always so informative and interesting. Miss you not being there.
    The adoption of 503 is a special memory to me. I continued to observe him as he matured.
    I sadly watched the illness and death of the spring cub and its’ mother and sibling reaction while it so ill. Also saw the retrieval of it’s body for autopsy.
    Another special was seeing the wire removed from the neck of Divot.


  4. Thank you for a wonderful walk down Brooks Falls with memories of the Bears over the last 10 years! I also remember when the three cubs went over the falls and safely were retrieved by their mama bear at the bottom of the falls. Thank you Mike!


  5. Mike – Thank you so much for all you have done with the bear cams! You have given us a great wealth of knowledge and understanding of the REAL world and I appreciate all of your hard work to make these things happen. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and love of the natural world with us and for making it fun in the process!


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