Meet Beadnose: Alaska's New Fat Bear Champion

Katmai National Park and Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0
Katmai National Park and Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0

Beadnose is a mama bear who loves chowing down on sockeye salmon in Alaska’s scenic Katmai National Park and Preserve. Now, thanks to her fondness for food, she’s the champion of this year’s Fat Bear contest, Smithsonian reports.

Each fall since 2014, the park has organized the competition on social media to highlight the gluttonous ways in which the preserve’s 2000-plus brown bears start bulking up for winter. The bears eat everything they can get their paws on and swell to their heaviest weight in October to prepare for hibernation.

This year, Beadnose (who goes by the number 409) was the fan favorite, having received the most “likes” on Facebook when up against other bears in the bracket-style contest. As the new heavyweight champion, she receives “stronger chances of living through the winter,” according to the park’s social media accounts.

“Bears must eat one year’s worth of food in six short months to survive hibernation, and 409 has excelled at that,” the park writes. “Her radiant rolls were deemed by the voting public to be this year’s most fabulous flab. Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory.”

A fat bear contest poster

Katmai National Park & Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0

She beat out 11 other contenders chosen by park staff, including the aptly named Chunk and former fat bear champion Otis, whose body has been described as “walrus-shaped” by fans, according to Outside. The park says Beadnose “emancipated” her two cubs early in the summer, so she enjoyed the advantage of not having to share her food.

Want to see more of these BBBs (big beautiful bears) before they retreat into the nearby Dumpling Mountain caves to hibernate? Check out the park’s live Bear Cams online.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Australian Island Wants Visitors to Stop Taking Wombat Selfies

iStock.com/LukeWaitPhotography
iStock.com/LukeWaitPhotography

Spending a day observing Australian wildlife from afar isn't enough for some tourists. On Maria Island, just off the east coast of Tasmania, many visitors can't resist snapping pictures with the local wombats—and the problem has gotten so out of hand that island officials are asking people to pledge to leave the cute marsupials out of their selfies.

As CNN Travel reports, the Maria Island Pledge has been posted on signs welcoming visitors to the national park. It implores them to vow to the island to "respect and protect the furred and feathered residents." It even makes specific mention of the wombat selfie trend, with one passage reading:

"Wombats, when you trundle past me I pledge I will not chase you with my selfie stick, or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you, or try and pick you up. I will make sure I don’t leave rubbish or food from my morning tea. I pledge to let you stay wild."

The pledge isn't a binding contract guests have to sign. Rather, park officials hope that seeing these signs when they arrive will be enough to remind visitors that their presence has an impact on the resident wildlife and to be respectful of their surroundings.

The adorable, cube-pooping wombats at Maria Island are wild animals that aren't accustomed to posing for pictures, and should therefore be left alone—though in other parts of Australia, conservationists encourage tourists to take wildlife selfies. Rottnest Island off the country's west coast is home to 10,000 quokkas (another photogenic marsupial), and the quokka selfies taken there help raise awareness of their vulnerable status.

[h/t CNN Travel]

Divers Swim With What Could Be the Biggest Great White Shark Ever Filmed

iStock.com/RamonCarretero
iStock.com/RamonCarretero

New pictures and video taken by divers show what could possibly be the largest great white shark ever caught on camera, CNN Travel reports.

Deep Blue, a 50-plus-year-old great white first documented 20 years ago, was spotted off the coast of Hawaii recently in a rare close encounter. Divers were filming tiger sharks feeding on a sperm whale carcass south of Oahu when Deep Blue swam up and began scratching herself on their boat. They accompanied the shark in the water for the rest of the day, even getting close enough to touch her at times.


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"She swam away escorted by two rough-toothed dolphins who danced around her over to one of my [...] shark research vessels and proceeded to use it as a scratching post, passing up feeding for another need," Ocean Ramsey, one of the divers, wrote in an Instagram post.


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A post shared by Ocean Ramsey #OceanRamsey (@oceanramsey) on

Deep Blue is roughly 20 feet long and weighs an estimated 2 tons—likely making her one of the largest great whites alive. (The record for biggest great white shark ever is often disputed, with some outlets listing an alleged 37-foot shark recorded in the 1930s as the record-holder.)

Deep Blue looks especially wide in these photos, leading some to suspect she's pregnant. Swimming so close to great whites is always dangerous, especially when they're feeding, but older, pregnant females tend to be more docile.

Though great white sharks are the largest predatory sharks in the ocean, sharks of Deep Blue's size are seldom seen, and they're filmed alive even less often, making this a remarkable occurrence.

[h/t CNN Travel]

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