Do you will have your bracket crammed out for Fat Bear Week?
The yearly social media occasion—carried out by park rangers at Katmai National Park and Preserve, situated on four million acres in Southwestern Alaska—marks the tip of summer time season and the excessive level of the bears’ pre-hibernation weight earlier than they sleep all through the winter months. And the 5-year-old occasion has by no means been extra fashionable.
Members of the park’s Facebook page collect to guess upon the weights of two bracketed bears per day, choosing their favourite among the many ursine opponents, till October 8. Dubbed Fat Bear Tuesday by the park, that is when the winner will probably be topped.
Fat bear fanatics usually get very into the competition. In reality, some people track the bears in query all through the summer time months by way of stay bear cams stationed everywhere in the park, watching their progress because the months go by. They tend to connect nicknames to the bears, which regularly stick and turn into a part of their bracketing identification.
Katmai Conservancy media ranger Naomi Boak has two favorites this yr. She told NPR that Nos. 435 and 747—the bears are numbered as an alternative of named for essentially the most half to keep away from anthropomorphizing the bears—are her favorites, the latter being named so as a result of he is “as big as a jumbo jet.”
“He was so big he looked like he was ready to hibernate in July. He’s the size of two bears. They lose a third of their body fat over the winter,” Boak stated. “So they need all that fat to survive.” And there is a good purpose for that, as a hormone that inhibits starvation switches off, making the bears ravenous.
All of the bears concerned within the contest are Coastal Brown Bears, and all of them feast on the salmon working up the Brooks River all summer time to get to their scale-tipping weights.
Boak and her assistant, Brooklyn White, choose the bears yearly, and so they additionally take “before” and “after” footage of the bears—”before” being the bears simply after they’ve woken from hibernation and the “after” being them at their roly-poly October weights.
Hopefully this yr’s pack will make it by with flying colours. Last yr’s champ—No. 409, nicknamed Beadnose and weighing in at over 1,000 kilos—had not made a reappearance within the park this season.
“All of it is a fun—and it is fun—way to educate people on the struggle for survival that these bears go through and the dramatic changes involved that. They are going to lose about one-third of their body weight over winter hibernation, and in order to survive the next year, they have to gain all of that back, in a few short weeks over the summer,” Andrew LaValle, a park ranger at Katmai, told NPR final yr.