The grizzlies are solitary animals, and at the start of spring hunger makes them even more dangerous.
The grizzly bear belongs to the same species as the European bear, but its better diet enables it to grow much bigger. A Pyrenean bear weighs around 300 kilos and stands two metres tall, while on Kodiak island some bears can weigh almost 1,000 kilos and measure 3 metres.
The cubs remain with their mother for three years, after which their life of solitude begins. From that time on, they will receive neither protection nor help, and the companions they had played with up to now will become their rivals.
The grizzlies are solitary animals, and at the start of spring hunger makes them even more dangerous. So, when an adult male approaches a group of young bears, they know it’s time to stop their games and make a rapid getaway.
In times of hunger the adult bears are capable of killing and eating young of their own species, so it’s probably best to take no chances.
As the summer advances in Alaska, the grizzly bears leave the pasture to visit the shores where this manna from heaven is about to arrive.
With all the calm in the world they walk along the river bank, examining it for food. But this year, the gift from the sea is a little late in coming. For the time being the only food around is algae and the odd dead fish. Nothing vaguely interesting for their empty stomachs.
After sniffing around in the sand for something to eat, the male understands it’s still early. It might be a long wait, so the best thing you can do is make yourself comfortable and dig yourself a good seat in the soft sand. And now all that’s required is a little patience.
He was the first to arrive, but he’s not the only that comes to the coast. Soon, he will be joined by another adult male with similar intentions, and the disputes will begin to determine who gets the best spot along the shore.
The loser doesn’t have to move far. Just a few metres away, he goes back to padding around in search of food.
It won’t be long before these two are accompanied by other bears who, like them, have abandoned the grasslands, and now impatiently examine the water.
All of them are waiting for the salmon to arrive, their only hope in this cold, hostile land. Each year thousands of salmon return to the rivers where they were born, providing the local wildlife with the food they need to build up the reserves necessary to survive the long, harsh winter. They are manna from the sea, the reserves of protein and fat everyone is waiting for. The salmon, quite simply, are life.