Kodiak Island: Brown Bears at Frazer Lake

Seeing the Kodiak Brown Bears has long been on my bucket list – these are the largest brown bears in the world! Kodiak brown bears have evolved in isolation from the mainland bears and on abundant salmon and other food on the island and are significantly larger – males reaching 300 to 600 kg (660 to 1,320 lb) vs mainland bears only clocking in at 115 and 360 kg (254 and 794 lb). Kodiak bears are a separate subspecies of the animal and Frazer Lake is as famous as Katmai for seeing them in the wild – still only a 1000 people per year get to see the spectacle. Scientists released fertilized salmon eggs in the 1990s into the Frazer Lake but salmon couldn’t come back to the lake because the lake was elevated and the waterfalls were too high for salmon to come up. So a special fish ladder was built and salmon congregates on the river below the bottleneck – this is where bears come to feast. We saw 9 bears at the same time – two mothers with three cubs each, two 2–year old independent siblings, and one solo old female bear – no large males, but apparently a large aggressive male would scare off everybody else. It’s was good several hours of watching the bears fish and eat salmon (or have their mother catch it for them). An absolutely surreal, once in a lifetime experience!