February 14, 2020

Hungry Alaska bears find a new prey: Katmai’s sea otters

An automated camera captured this brown bear standing with a freshly killed sea otter on an island offshore of Katmai National Park and Preserve. (Photo by Dan Monson/United States Geological Survey)

For more than a decade, researchers on a remote stretch of Alaska’s coastline have watched brown bears scavenge sea otters. But as Dan Monson, a federal scientist and sea otter expert based in Anchorage, Alaska, scrutinized the carcasses left on the beaches in Katmai National Park and Preserve, about 400 kilometers southwest of Anchorage, he started noticing a strange, unexplained trend. Many of the dead animals appeared to be in their prime—they weren’t the juvenile or older otters one would expect to find dead—and more and more of them were showing up.

Following years of research, Monson and his fellow scientists have now confirmed that at least one of Katmai’s brown bears is preying on live sea otters—a previously undocumented behavior that speaks to broader ecological changes driven by the rebound of Alaska’s sea otter population.

To read the full article published by Hakai Magazine visit: https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/hungry-alaskan-bears-find-a-new-prey/