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DIVER 1 PIC 1998 or PRIOR KNP&P FLICKR

1 Diver NPS photo from 1998 or prior

Adult Male ~ No Longer Seen

Year First Identified:  Unknown, likely in mid-70's per 2015 Bears of Brooks River book .

Year Last Observed:  2000 per October 5, 2000 article (see link below), 1999 per 2015 Bears of Brooks River book

Known Offspring Of:  Unknown


1 Diver was legendary as the first famous bear known to use the Brooks River as an essential food resource.  In the July 27, 2015 words of former Katmai National Park & Preseve ranger, Mike Fitz:  "There are many famous bears that have come and gone from Brooks River.  Before them cams Diver (1), Headbob (6), Milkshake (236), Cinnamon (16), BB (24), Goatee, and many, many others captured and held people's attention."    

Identification:

2015 Bears of Brooks River book:  Diver was a large adult male with golden-brown fur in July and dark brown fur in the fall. His muzzle was blocky and his ears were wide-set. He had a distinctive scar on his back from a wound he received in the late 1980s.

In the fall, he was often very fat—evidence that diving can be a lucrative fishing style.

Distinctive Behaviors:

He was nicknamed for his habit of diving, a technique he used much more than any other bear.

Diver was apparently skilled at diving at Brooks River in the 1970s. He would fish the jacuzzi at Brooks Falls in July, but diving allowed him to feed on salmon that were generally inaccessible to most other bears.

Life History:

Diver was an extremely long-lived bear and was estimated to be approximately 35 years old when he was last seen in 1999 or 2000.

(Please note:  There is conflicting information regarding the last year that 1 Diver was identified using the Brooks River area.  An October 5, 2000 article (see link below) states that 1 Diver was last observed in 2000; however At the Heart of Katmai and the 2015 Bears of Brooks River book state that he was last observed in 1999.)

1 Diver is mentioned various times in At the Heart of Katmai: An Administrative History of the Brooks River Area, with Special Emphasis on Bear Management in Katmai National Park and Preserve 1912-2006 .  One of the times he is mentioned it states:

"By the 1980s, the number of Brooks River brown bears had escalated and a new generation of bears began to compete more aggressively with a growing number of anglers, even though the angler primarily coveted the rainbow trout. This new generation included individual bears that became recognizable to both staff and guests. Ester and Goatee, Cinnamon and Beauty, Panda and Grumps—each returned to the Brooks Falls year after year; mother bears arrived at the river each spring with cubs in tow. Before he disappeared in the late 1990s, Diver, a bear known for diving for salmon at the base of the falls, was probably the most famous, most photographed, and certainly the most beloved of the Brooks River bears. To visitors, these wild animals had become expected and permanent fixtures in the park."

KNP&P's flickr album contains a collection of NPS photos of the legendary 1 Diver.  The date of some of the various photos were taken is unknown.  If the dates of the photos are known, they appear below each photo.:

Park visitor, Ray Wood, captured 1 Diver at approximately 4:03 into this video :  (year footage filmed is unknown)

Alaskan Adventure - The Bears of Katmai (1 Diver can be seen at 4 03) video by park visitor Ray Wood

Alaskan Adventure - The Bears of Katmai (1 Diver can be seen at 4 03) video by park visitor Ray Wood

1988:

June 1988:

In June of 1988, Diver arrived at Brooks Camp with a gaping wound deep in the muscle of his back, possibly from a fight over a female.  He carried an obvious scar on the right side of the saddle of his back until he was last observed.

(This information also appeared in a Peninsula Clarion article:  When 1 Diver was first observed at Brooks Camp in June 1988. he had a "gaping wound deep in the muscle of his back" .  Unfortunately, the article is no longer available. )

1991:

June 1991:

1 Diver was observed by park rangers emerging from a dive into the Brooks River with a beaver, a food resouce available to the bears prior to the return of the salmon.

1992:

September 1992:

1992.09.20:  Park visitor 1spooned captured footage of 1 Diver at 36:57 into this video :

Jim & Jim Fly Fishing Brooks River Katmai National Park Alaska September 1992 video by 1spooned

Jim & Jim Fly Fishing Brooks River Katmai National Park Alaska September 1992 video by 1spooned

1993:

1996:

1997:

July 1997:

1998:

Diver Cards Program:

The following information is from At the Heart of Katmai:  An Administrative History of the Brooks River Area, with Special Emphasis on Bear Management in Katmai National Park and Preserve 1912-2006 :

"Brooks Camp Manager Mark Wagner created the “Diver Cards” program to encourage proper etiquette on the viewing platform at the falls in 1998.  

Some bear watchers vocally harassed the bears; some even clapped, whistled, and found other ways to get the animals’ attention, all for a better picture to take home. At the time, photographers themselves volunteered to switch over to smaller camera mounts, which could be clamped onto the platform’s heavy railing.  

The park instituted a series of etiquette rules that guided visitor behavior on the platforms. NPS instructed visitors to be quiet and not to cheer, clap or try talking to the bears. Visitors were asked to show courtesy to others by sharing the best viewing places along the railings. They were asked to not use flash photography. They could not sit on the platform railings or crowd the access ramps. Nor were visitors allowed to eat, drink (except water) or smoke on the platform. In 1998, Wagner had the rules for Platform Etiquette printed on the back of five cards, which included various photographs of a famous Brooks River bear, Diver. These popular “Diver Cards” were distributed to visitors by the interpretation staff."

Other fun facts about the Driver Card Program are:

Diver Card #2 provided the following information about 1 Diver:  He dug belly holes in the soft beach sand and lays down with his large belly in the hole.

Diver Card #4 provided the following information about 1 Diver: Diver once ate 17 entire salmon in 45 minutes.

Diver Card #5 was a rare Diver Card that KNP&P rangers would slip to park visitors that would give up their viewing spot early on crowded viewing platforms. 

Nick and Mary Alaniz have been repeat visitors to Katmai National Park & Preserve / Brooks Camp over the years.  They must have been top notch visitors...they managed to collect all 5 Diver trading cards...even the rarest 5th card that was reserved for park visitors that shared platform time with other park guests.  Nick and Mary Alaniz have also generously provided their permission for their photos of the cards to be shared here on 1 Diver's wiki page.  

Thank you Nick & Mary Alaniz for your generousity!  

Please request Nick & Mary Alaniz's permission prior to using the photographs!!!

October 1998:

1999:

Fall 1999:

Fall of 1999 information about 1 Diver in included in At the Heart of Katmai: An Administrative History of the Brooks River Area, with Special Emphasis on Bear Management in Katmai National Park and Preserve 1912-2006 :

In fall 1999, the Brooks River’s most photographed bear that attracted most bear watching enthusiasts to Brooks Camp, ‘Diver,’ the 35-year-old brown bear, was on his last legs. He was gaunt and creaking when he showed up at the river to consume carcasses of dead and rotting salmon. Though he put on some weight, he didn’t look all that healthy heading into winter and hibernation. According to Brooks Camp manger, Mark Wagner, “He looked really bad.” Despite the odds, the venerable bear survived the winter. But the future for Diver was grim. “Probably the only thing saving Diver now, lamented Wagner, “is that the other bears haven’t really noticed his frailty.” 

2000:

May 2000:

2000.05.14:  1 Diver was observed at Brooks Camp.

September 2000:

2000.09.18:  1 Diver was observed fishing the Brooks River.

October 2000:

2000.10.05:  Peninsula Clarion article by Craig Medred:  Biologists: Venerable Katmai bear unlikely to survive the winter   

2015:

1 Diver was included in the Bears No Longer Seen section of the 2015 Bears of Brooks River book on page 72.  1 Diver did not appear in prior editions (2010 & 2014) or in the 2012 Brown Bears of Brooks Camp iBook.  1 Diver's information and photos remained the same in subsequent editons (2016 - 2018).:

A display of 1 Diver is still used as an interpretation and educational tool at Brooks Camp in the treehouse near the Brooks Falls and Riffles wildlife viewing platforms.   The 1 Diver display can also be seen at 3:32 into this 2010 or prior video by Nature Eau Scope:
Des ours et des hommes

Des ours et des hommes

Fun Facts about 1 Diver from the back sides of the 1 Diver Cards:

Thank you to Nick & Mary Alaniz for the generous permission to use their photographs of their full set 1 Diver cards which provided the following information from the back sides of each of those cards!

  • Mature and dominant male bears like Diver often control the best fishing spots along the river.
  • Diver was particularly good at swimming underwater in pursuit of sockeye salmon.
  • Older bears frequently show very worn teeth as in the 1996 photo of 1 Diver by NPS employee Jim Gavin that appears on the front of the 1st Diver card (please see the above photo).
  • Diver was an impressive sight in the late months of autumn.  His weight had increased substantially and was probably greater than 1,000 pounds.
  • Diver's large girth made laying down difficult.  He dug "belly holes" in the soft beach sand and laid down with his large stomach in the hole.
  • In June of 1988, Diver arrived at Brooks Camp with a gaping wound deep in the muscle of his back, possibly from a fight over a female.  He carried an obvious scar on the right side of the saddle of his back until he was last observed.
  • Diver made quite an impression, even as a massive old timer who had been living along the Brooks River for an estimated thirty years or more.
  • Diver was named for his fishing style - he dove completely underwater in the plunge pool at the base of Brooks Falls in search of sockeye salmon.
  • Diver once ate 17 entire salmon in 45 minutes.
  • Diver once dominated all activity at Brooks Falls and still maintained a high level in the hierarchy until he was last observed.
  • Diver's favorite spot to fish was the large plunge pool at the base of Brooks Falls.
  • Diver was rarely seen on top of the Falls, as in the 1993 NPS photograph by NPS employee Jim Gavin (please see the photo above).

Platform Etiquette from the back sides of the 1 Diver Cards:

Thank you to Nick & Mary Alaniz for the generous permission to use their photographs of their full set 1 Diver cards which provided the following information from the back sides of each of those cards!

  • Please be quiet - don't cheer, clap, or try talking to the bears.
  • Please show courtesy to others - share the best viewing places along the railings.
  • Please do not use flash units with your cameras.
  • No food or dring is allowed (except water).
  • No smoking in the platform area.
  • Please do not sit on the railings. Leave room in front of the stairs and access ramps so people can get through.
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