Otis Hugging a Sockeye

Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park & Preserve, Alaska

Otis, Bear 480, hugs a sockeye salmon close as he is about to eat his catch in the "Jacuzzi Pool" at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park & Preserve

Otis Hugging a Sockeye
( July 20, 2014 )

The Story Behind the Photograph

Currently, Bear #480, “Otis,” is one of the older bears in Katmai National Park & Preserve. He is now 27 years old (in 2023).  Otis was 18 years young in this photograph.  Otis used to fish this coveted spot, known as the “Jacuzzi”, in the Brooks River, just below the falls and close to the Falls Viewing Platform.

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The Science Behind the Photograph

Bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls must compete with other dominant bears for prime locations.  There is definitely a pecking order of which bear has claim to which spot.  The “jacuzzi” location shown in this photo of Otis requires a unique style of fishing, where the bear feels for a salmon in the frothy white water with its feet and legs. When it senses a salmon underneath, it pins it against its body or legs with its paws.  Otis, however, relies on his laser focus even when fishing the jacuzzi; see this photograph of his signature concentration.

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Otis, Bear 480, hugs a sockeye salmon close as he is about to eat his catch in the "Jacuzzi Pool" at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park & Preserve

Otis Hugging a Sockeye

 (c) Ed MacKerrow / In Light of Nature, LLC.  (20140720_2Z9B2050)