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Water Currents: Live Bear and Salmon Cams Bring Nature Up Close


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freshwater species of the weekNature programs often show the annual congregation of bears at streams during salmon runs, but few people get to actually see them up close. Now, National Geographic partner Explore.org offers Internet users an intimate look at this feeding frenzy (view cam).

The cam shows live footage from Alaska’s Brooks River in Katmai National Park. According to the website: “Every year over a hundred brown bears descend on a mile-long stretch of Brooks River to feast on the largest sockeye salmon run in the world.”

Watch sockeye salmon leap over falls and brown bears stuff themselves on what they can catch. The best viewing time is daylight hours in Alaska time.

Speaking of sockeye salmon, the U.S. Forest Service has also just placed a cam in a pond that is used by the species to spawn (above), in Steep Creek in Juneau, Alaska.

Among the smaller of the seven Pacific salmon species, sockeye are highly prized for their succulent meat, by people and other carnivorous animals. Sockeye range from 24 to 33 inches (60 to 84 centimeters) in length and weigh between 5 and 15 pounds (2.3 to 7 kilograms).

Sockeye are born in freshwater, like other Pacific salmon. Juveniles stay inland  for up to three years, more than any other salmon. They then head out to sea, where they feast on zooplankton for one to four years. When they return to freshwater to spawn, they turn bright red, and the males develop a characteristic humped back.

After mating, the salmon die.

In honor of these new cams, sockeye salmon and brown bears share this week’s freshwater species.


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