Coastal Brown Bear Determination

USA, Katmai National Park (AK): Brown bear (Ursus arctos) running in the water

This is an image I took of a Coastal brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Katmai National Park, Alaska, sprinting in shallow water in pursuit of its favorite prey during the annual salmon run.

For more information about the salmon run in Alaska and how bears behave at that time of the year, please refer to my previous post about it.

Regarding the image itself, I think that the bear’s determined stare, the position of its front paw and claws, just about to hit the water, and the thousands of water droplets surrounding the running bear are the elements that make this photograph and, in my view, tell the story of a beautiful, powerful and elegant creature in its environment during a defining moment in its lifecycle.

The world population of brown bears is estimated at about 200,000 individuals, half of which are in Russia alone, with the US and Canada (with respectively 33,000 and 25,000 brown bears) coming in second and third place. Encroaching and hunting are two of the major threats to bear populations outside of protected areas.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)


33 thoughts on “Coastal Brown Bear Determination

  1. Heather (Sweet Precision)

    Lovely picture Stefano! I traveled to Denali National Park when I was much younger with my family. I specifically remember them offering bear safety lessons. Clearly, you wouldn’t want to be caught downstream from one of these bears barreling at you 😉

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you very much, Heather! Glad you liked the image. The good thing in Katmai during the salmon run is that the bears are so focused on salmon that they really don’t care about humans, especially because unlike other National Parks Katmai bears (or at least those in the areas that I have visited) do not associate humans with food as people tend to be careful not to leave any discarded food behind and to store food properly. Something to be cautious about is moms with cubs on the other hand, as you want to make sure they do not perceive you as a potential threat to their offspring. So facinating. 🙂

  2. ChgoJohn

    Such a wonderful photo, Stefano. “Beautiful” and “powerful” are the words that immediately came to my mind when I saw this stunning capture. I think the brown bear’s future, as well as the Kodiak’s and many other endangered species, lies in the purchase and protection of the various habitats. Saving a few specimens in zoos is hardly “saving” and should be a last resort. Instead of spending money on bringing back extinct animals, like a woolly mammoth or saber-toothed cat, how about using it to save the animals already here?

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you very much, John: glad you liked my image. You are absolutely right: habitat protection is the key to wildlife conservation. Especially when acquisitions of land connect separate protected areas to one another, thus creating safe “corridors” for wildlife to roam. There is still hope if we act! 🙂

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Ben, for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment. Much appreciated. I am glad you liked my image. Also, you have a very fine blog: I am happy your comment led me to it! 🙂

  3. caleephotography

    Great capture, Stefano! How close were you when you took that shot? That bear looks huge, much bigger than the ones I saw in Denali (they don’t have the privilege of fishing there). 🙂 Great action shot!!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you so much, Camilla! Glad you liked it. Well, I was fairly close to “the action”: the image was taken at 210mm on a 1.5x DX body, to give you an idea. My guess is that the bear was some 45 ft/15 mt away give or take. And you are right, Katmai and Kodiak brown bears are huge, definitely well fed by the abundance of salmon and especially the roe that they go crazy for! Thanks again for your kind words. And, I like your new avatar! 😉

  4. Maria Dernikos

    I don’t know how close you were to taking this picture but he has no interest in what you are doing what so ever, his face is full of concentration for something else (Salmon). You have caught the power of those paws brilliantly. Those claws look lethal.

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Maria: my guess is that the bear was some 45 ft/15 mt away, give or take, but you are exactly right: it was so focused on its prey that he could not care less of the paparazzi! 😉 Glad you liked the image.


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