Bears fish in ways
that are unexpected to many observers because the way that humans might fish
differs from the ways bears fish. For example, in this humorous commercial from
the John West salmon company, how does the bear get the fish out of the water?
Step 1. Observe
the bears. Pick a video of a fishing bear. How does its technique differ from
that in the John West commercial? Make of list of the movements and positions
that the bear makes to hunt for and catch fish.
Step 2. Assess your
question, how is that bear fishing? Make a table with four columns.
Using your list above, write down the states (prolonged disposition) and events
(changes) that occur when a grizzly fishes. How does a grizzly behave while
it is actively fishing vs when it is "just watching?"
Rank your criteria for usefulness in describing the fishing behavior on a
scale of one to four. 1: a behavior shared by many different activities; 2:
a behavior restricted to fishing, but not seen or difficult to see in the
video, 3: a behavior that is easy to see (common) and restricted to particular
acts of fishing, 4: a behavior that clearly initiates or ends a bout of fishing.
Give evidence that would support your ranking and refer to individual pictures
Write down which videos or picture sets were compared.
Step 3: Consider
our list of fishing behaviors. Compare your list of fishing behaviors with our
list, or ethogram, below. Before you go back to your videos, make a prediction
or hypothesis about your ability to see some of the behaviors below in your
video (that you may not have listed) and if they are in the same order. Justify
A list of component
states or events in a behavior is called an ethogram.
These are shown and
ordered in the figure below:
Step 4. What is
known: fishing is a often a group foraging behavior. There is a lot known about
social foraging in herding animals, but little is known about it in animals,
like Brown Bears, who are primary solitary outside of the special aggregation
sites. Develop a hypothesis about what components of the fishing ethogram above
are adaptations to a social environment, where other bears are nearby.
Step 5. Test your
hypothesis by observing days when fishing is occuring at close quarters. What
observations would support your hypothesis? What observations would disprove
Step 6. If you see
a new behavior, particularly one that is involved in social foraging, send an
email to the Griffing lab at firstname.lastname@example.org and the new information will
be added to our modified ethogram. If you find a new behavior, you get to name