There is pretty much no better way to spend your time on the internet than watching live footage of bears chilling in Katmai National Park, Alaska — and now Explore.org has brought Bearcam back for a "fourth season" ahead of this year's salmon migration. Hundreds of brown bears are now available to watch live 24/7, all powered by a complex network of remote cameras, solar panels, microwave uplinks, and wind turbines.
This year Bearcam has a new feature that makes it easy to take a snapshot from the live feed and share it along with associated video, and there'll be daily contests for the best shots. Viewers will also be able to chat live with park rangers, and Explore.org is planning exclusive content beyond the live feed for platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Vine.
If you're still not convinced, just read these two paragraphs from a press release and tell me this doesn't sound like the greatest reality TV show of all time:
Each year, as the bears begin to trickle to Brooks Falls, onlookers wait in anticipation to see when and if the bears they know will return, and which, if any, will emerge strong enough to challenge the dominant males who reign at the falls during the peak fishing run the first weeks of July. Narrated and contextualized by rangers, the action has produced countless stories and dramatic moments and helped document rare behaviors.
In past seasons, bears with names such as Otis, Scaredy Bear, Lurch, and Holly have battled for fishing positions, defended their cubs, mated, and played to an audience of millions around the world. Bears have been slain and eaten by dominant peers; cubs have been rescued from the destruction of other bears, cast off, and adopted; and many a leaping salmon has been caught in mid-air only to be stolen by the young and crafty bears still learning to hunt.