In October, Brooks Falls acts as a temporary barrier for migrating sockeye salmon as they swim upstream to spawn. That means the river is like a veritable brown bear all-you-can eat buffet of big, delicious fish.
Lucky for us -- and if you've put money on the tourney, this goes double -- the park also has sophisticated live streaming webcams pointed at the river's best fishing spots, where you'll frequently see multiple bears wrestling, doing belly flops and gorging on sweet, sweet salmon.
They even have a camera underwater, so you can see the fish without whose participation "Fat Bear Week" would need a name change.
Let's go the highlight reel ...
The competition's first round pits 480 Otis against 775 Lefty. Meanwhile, 854 Divot goes up against Bear 402.
Bears that received byes into Friday's second round are 32 Chunk, Bear 747, Bear 503 and Holly. (Some bears only get a number, apparently -- that's gotta be emotionally hurtful.)
But why do some bears get a bye?
“The bears got a bye into the second round because they are really fat," said Naomi Boak, a spokeswoman for the park whose job seems really cool. "They worked hard for their fatness. Plus, they are fan favorites.”
Last year's winning bear was 409 Beadnose, who “declined to participate by not showing up this year,” Boak said.
Pretty lame, 409 Beadnose. Pret-ty pret-ty, lame.
In its fifth year, the competition is decided by bearcam viewers who choose the bear that looks the heaviest, an indication of “good health and strong chances of survival,” according to a Park Service release.
“During winter hibernation, which can last for up to half of the year in their den, a bear could lose up to one third of its body mass,” the release said. “In preparation, the bears are entering hyperphagia this time of year, a state in which they eat nearly nonstop.”
You can -- nay, should -- cast your vote on the park’s Facebook page.
The bear with the most likes advances to the next round, and the winner will be announced on Oct. 8, which the Park Service calls “Fat Bear Tuesday," and we call "Check to See Who Won Fat Bear Tuesday Tuesday."
Coverage to ensue ...