A global citizen science platform
to discover, share and identify wildlife

Join Project Noah!

Kodiak Brown Bears

Ursus arctos middendorffi


The first photo is of a younger bear that came very close to us but just laid down on the ground a little ways away. I think it was hoping we would walk away from our fish and it could take it for a meal instead of hunting for it. I think the darker, slightly larger bear was its mother. Downstream, they stole a stringer full of fish from a group of fishermen. When we left, we watched from above and the sow was swimming in the middle of the river with her eyes under the water but her ears sticking out looking for fish, and popping up to breathe once in a while. Video: http://vimeo.com/289932684


At a remote river over an hour from the nearest paved road and not accessible by regular road vehicles. Red Salmon AKA Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) and Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) were running in this river when I took the photos.


The first photo shows a young bear, probably a year or two old based on the size and the blonde head. Younger ones often have a lighter-colored head. Second photo shows another bear that was darker and a bit larger, but still not very big. I think it was the first bear's mother. They stayed together for the couple hours we observed them. Third photo shows the younger bear eating some salmon. Fourth photo shows them fighting (not sure if it was play fighting or they were annoyed, but it wasn't a very rough fight). Fifth photo shows the sow looking for a place to cross the river. Last photo shows the large paws and lanky stature of the younger one.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID


Felix Fleck
Felix Fleck 11 months ago

Great shots, Machi! Congrats.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 11 months ago

Congrats, Machi...well done!

Machi 11 months ago

Thanks again everyone! Daniele, I am a resident of Kodiak now. I now just go back to the East Coast to visit family and friends and I'm off the island maybe a couple months a year.

AntónioGinjaGinja 11 months ago

Wonderfull series Machi,perfect spotting,congrats on the well deserved SOTW and thanks for sharing your awesome encounters with us all.

DanielePralong 11 months ago

Thanks for the extra details Machi! How much of your time are actually spending on Kodiak?

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 11 months ago

Congratulations Machi ! I just love that first photo...

triggsturner 11 months ago

Well deserved SOTW Machi, well done.

Sergio Monteiro
Sergio Monteiro 11 months ago

Congratulations Machi, it is a wonderful series.

remkinloch 11 months ago

Congratulations on your SOTW Machi - a real privilege to see these images. Thanks for sharing them.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 11 months ago

Congratulations Machi.. well deserved.

Machi 11 months ago

Hi Daniele, just a slight correction: the coat doesn't always go from light to dark as they age. Many cubs are darker brown and adults can even be pretty blonde. I think however, that the fully-grown adults generally do not have the lighter color head than the rest of their body like this one, and the younger ones do not always have a lighter head. It is just a good indication when you do see one I think

Machi 11 months ago

Wow thank you! I'm honored.

DanielePralong 11 months ago

Congratulations Machi, your charismatic Kodiak bears have been voted Spotting of the Week! Your varied series of images, personal notes and story, and that lively video won you the vote.

"You can immerse yourself in the life of Kodiak bears (Ursus arctos middendorffi) in our Spotting of the Week! The largest recognized subspecies of brown bears, Kodiak bears are found on the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago in southwest Alaska. Their coat color goes from blonde to dark brown with younger individuals often showing a lighter-colored head like the one pictured here. Make sure to check the spotting for more images including river crossing, salmon eating and a lively video of light fighting".



Machi 11 months ago

Thanks everyone for the nice comments! And thank you for the nomination. I never tire of seeing these amazing bears.

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 11 months ago

Wonderful shots Machi I love the first pic. Thanks also for your description and story.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 11 months ago

An incredible spotting Machi.. thank you.

Maria dB
Maria dB 11 months ago

Delightful series and description of what you observed

AshleyT 11 months ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

triggsturner 11 months ago

Brilliant series Machi. I love it, thank you for sharing these images with us.

Spotted by

Alaska, USA

Lat: 57.55, Long: -152.72

Spotted on Jul 30, 2018
Submitted on Sep 14, 2018

Related Spottings

Ursus thibetanus Polar bear Brown bear Black bear

Nearby Spottings

Yellow Willowherb Northern Bedstraw Ragged Lichen Green Stonefly