PBS recently rebroadcast the half hour version of "The Ends of the Earth", titled "Katmai: Alaska's Wild Peninsula". If you missed the broadcast, the PBS version can be streamed for free from the website: http://www.pbs.org/show/katmai-alaskas-wild-peninsula/
The next two weeks are best opportunity to spy on giant brown bears catching salmon at Brooks Falls. This is a match of an amazing migration of sockeye salmon to their spawning streams and huge brown bears tolerating each others' close proximity because of the massive nutrient load. For us, it's a wildlife spectacular. Take a peek: http://explore.org/…/pla…/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls
1974 photo from an abandoned bear den on Kodiak. Brown bears usually awaken from their long winter sleep and emerge from dens in April, May and June, but with anthropogenic climate change, particularly the warming in Alaska and the polar regions, it is likely that some Katmai bears are already out and about.
The mysterious deaths in late October of two Brooks River brown bears has Katmai biologists saddened but fascinated, since the "natural" death of bears (unlike infanticide) is rarely witnessed, while these were recorded on the park's web cam. A 60-pound cub was seen stumbling and staggering near the river before collapsing; initial test results seem to indicate it died of canine adenovirus-1, an infection that occurs naturally in the environment, including in wolves and bears.... A few days later an 800-pound adult male, Bear 868, died on the beach of Naknek Lake but the cause of its death is still unknown. Park biologists conducted a field necropsy and reported it was quite an effort because of the sheer size of the bear. The web cams are proving a benefit to scientific research, particularly because of the participation of citizen scientists. http://tinyurl.com/beardeaths
Does eating all those salmon make my butt look big? Bear 409, nicknamed Beadnose, is this year's winner of Katmai's Fat Bear contest. Brown bears emerge from their dens in spring having lost up to 1/3 of their body weight. Those that do well foraging over the summer become what biologists call "September bears", which may look abnormally overweight but they need those reserves of fat to survive the long Alaskan winter. Beadnose may tip the scales at 700 pounds now; that's just an estimate because no one wants to weigh her.
In a wildlife rarity, "Supermom Sow" Bear 435, nicknamed Holly, adopted another sow's rejected cub last year. Against all odds, and in a testament to Holly's superior maternal nurturing, the family of mother, cub and adopted cub survived the winter and are back at Brooks River in Katmai National Park, awaiting the salmon run. Holly is one of the bears featured in "The Ends of the Earth". http://www.adn.com/…/supermom-brown-bear-returns-alaskas-br…
It took photographer Thom Mangelsen a full week of dawn to dusk shooting and 35 rolls of film to capture one of the most iconic shots of the brown bears of Brooks Falls in Alaska's Katmai National Park. In those pre-digital days, he didn't know he'd gotten the shot until the processed film came back from the lab -- six weeks later.
In wilderness areas land managers do not rescue wildlife from Tennyson's "Nature, red in tooth and claw", preferring to let all natural processes play out, however brutal that may sometimes seem to us. But in the case of Katmai's Bear 854, the threat was man-made: her neck was caught in a wolf snare. In stepped intrepid park rangers and, amazingly enough, everything fell into place when it all could have gone so wrong. Read the account of the daring rescue of a Brooks Camp brown bear: http://www.nps.gov/…/Removing-a-Wire-Snare-from-854-Divot.h…
Cleverly timed to match the bears' emergence from their winter dens, "The Ends of the Earth" can now be rented or purchased from the iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/…/katmai-national-park…/id858871313 All revenues go to educational and interpretive programs at Katmai National Park & Preserve. (You can also give the film a five-star rating if you so choose!)
If you happen to be in Cannes this week for the Marché International des Programmes de Télévision, stop by the PBS International booth. They're promoting the renamed, 52-minute international version of "The Ends of the Earth" for broadcast on television channels worldwide.
This may be in Southeast Alaska but the same thing is going on in the winter streams and rivers of the Alaska Peninsula. Richard Nelson's enthusiasm is contagious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M64e6s7iN4w
The bears may be asleep but the filmmaker is still hard at work, presenting The Ends of the Earth on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Maryland. If you're in the DC/Baltimore area, come see the show, ask questions and hear stories about the wildest place on Earth. http://www.weinbergcenter.org/…/american-conservation-film…/
A Rachel Carson moment in "The Ends of the Earth": a meditation on the Pacific coast of the Alaska Peninsula. "On these shores there are echoes of past and future; of the flow of time, diminishing yet encompassing all that has gone before; of the sea’s eternal rhythmns: the running tides, the rush of surf, the pressing rivers of the currents… shaping, changing, dominating."