Fat Bears Take Over Alaska | Nature and Wildlife

Fat Bears Take Over Alaska in 2020
“Every year I go north to photograph these amazing bears through July and September. Each bear will consume between 75-150lbs of salmon … more
October 06, 2020

The Katmai Region of Alaska is unlike any region on Earth when it comes to conservation and grizzly bears.
Here, bears are protected and they thrive on rich healthy diets of wild berries and salmon from Bristol Bay.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperartso

Fat Bears don’t start off as fat bears, they start off as hungry spring cubs like this guy here photographed with his sockeye salmon prize — stolen right from the mouth of mom and his two siblings.
These cubs must fight for their share. Even within the protected borders of Katmai National Park & Preserve, they may be protected from man, but they are not from other bears. In the hierarchy of the bear world, nothing comes without a fight and for the three years these cubs live with mom, they learn a timid bear is a hungry bear.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts

Returning fat bear finalist, bear number 151 aka “Walker,” catches a red sockeye salmon at the falls on Brooks River.
It’s very rare to capture a red sockeye jumping up the falls, it’s even more rare that a bear would fish the top of the falls this late in the season. It just so happens old “Walker” was crossing the top of the falls, paused to look down for a minute and this guy, as destiny would have it, jumped right into his waiting mouth.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts
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They say the early bird gets the worm…well the early bear gets “fat.” One of the best times to feed is early morning. As the sun rises, so do the bears.
A fat bear candidate spends time in the river early, often, and late. These bears have a regimen of eating, sleeping, eating, sleeping that lasts 24 hours a day.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts

The reigning runner up from 2019 and returning heavy weight, designated bear #775 “Lefty” is my personal favorite.
His fishing style makes him a joy to watch and his distinctive droopy left ear earns him his name.
Every other bear leaving the river always precedes his entrance to Brooks Falls. Once “Lefty” picks his spot, in this case the top of the falls, then and only then will the other bears slowly and cautiously rejoin the feast. This battle-hardened bear has earned his place at the top of the chain and his many visible scars prove it.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts

Even the most healthy fat bears don’t come close to winning the annual competition. This one thousand pounder is a mere middleweight in the ring of “Fat Bear” candidates.
Photo Credit: Gregory Piper ©@Gregpiperarts
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Bears are naturally curious and I captured this image with a remote camera rig, allowing me to be 150 feet away. This cautious mom came over to investigate the situation before allowing her cubs to relax on the beach while she fished near the mouth of the Kulik river in Katmai.
Her cubs also decided to check out my camera, just before trying to eat it and dragging it 50 yards down the beach.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts

The feast starts well before September and bear #909 is getting an early start at the first sight of silver salmon in the falls. She won’t get in the “Fat Bear Week” bracket without getting the jump on the fish.
After grabbing her catch she strolls over to her favorite rock to sever up this delicious feast of skin, eggs, and protein.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts

If there was a fat bear cub category, then this little guy would take the prize. These cubs and their mom traveled over 25 miles to the Kulik river to feed on the last run of sockeye in the area.
What may come as a surprise, studies show that salmon are not a grizzly bear’s first choice for food. In fact they prefer berries, especially blueberries, and grass to salmon.
Bears are simply “opportunity” eaters and salmon are common in Katmai and widely available in Alaska, making them the easiest and most effortless dinner to plate.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts
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One of my favorite bears is this mammoth #480 “Otis.” Just look at the stare in his eyes.
His position near the top of the Brooks Falls hierarchy is firmly unopposed. He fishes at the far end of the falls and simply waits for his meal to come to him. From his shaded position under the trees, he has a clear view of the sun basked river allowing him to see the salmon as they await their turn to attempt a falls jump. He simply steps out and snags his meal of choice.
He is consistently in the “Fat Bear Week” finals and I have never witnessed another bear challenge him or his preferred spot.
Like “Lefty,” he is rapidly aging and the loss of his canine teeth signals his impending demise and rapid decline in the hierarchy, as it does with all bears.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts

“Walker,” aka bear #151, makes the catch on top of Brooks Falls.
An image of a silver jumping into an awaiting hungry mouth is easy to capture at Brooks Falls, a red sockeye is almost impossible. I was luckier than “Walker” on this sunny September day.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts

“The Catch,” an iconic image at Brooks Falls. Hundreds of thousands of photographers flock to Katmai every year to attempt to capture this image.
The raw cycle of life in the wild.
The immense power of such beauty.
The sustainability of our natural world.
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts
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Salmon are simply “the” vital element in Alaska’s diverse ecosystem.
Alaska’s fishery brings in over 3 billion dollars to the state’s economy annually, providing 32,900 jobs with over 1,000 of those jobs in bear viewing alone. Future generations of fat bears are under threat from human development projects disrupting this pristine wilderness. No salmon, equals no fat bears. And without fat bears, what would October really be?
Photo Credit: Greg Piper ©@Gregpiperarts

This image encompasses a bear’s life. This guy is well on his way to achieving “Fat Bear Week” status in Katmai. I captured this image at the end of September as the unlimited buffet continues and these beautiful bears prepare for the long winter ahead.
Heavy is the weight of the crown, but not nearly as heavy as the “Fat Bear Week” champion who will wear it.
Have an Epic 2020 “Fat Bear” Week my friends.

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IBM Case Study | Digital Adoption Solution | WalkMe

IBM boosts conversion rate and retention rate with digital adoption strategy and WalkMe
6X higher improvement in product adoption
4X higher conversion rate

80% revenue growth of digital offering
300% improvement in product usage consumption, and user retention
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o 6X higher improvement in product adoption
o 4X higher conversion rate
o 80% revenue growth of digital offering
o 300% improvement in product usage, consumption, and user retention

“Overall, WalkMe has helped us improve product usage, consumption, and retention by 300%. We’ve been able to reach 80% digital offering revenue growth, which was 2X our target.”
~ Nilanjan Adhya
Chief Digital Officer, IBM
Executive Summary
In recent years, IBM has transformed into a cloud platform and cognitive solutions company offering a range of digital products in addition to being a long time tech leader. Due to the complex nature of B2B products, many of IBM’s ground-breaking offerings suffered from user abandonment due to poor or non-existent onboarding experiences and a lack of accessible support. The company recognized it needed a new digital adoption strategy to boost engagement and, ultimately, sales.
IBM opted to deploy the WalkMe Digital Adoption Platform to aid user onboarding and feature adoption. WalkMe’s in-app guidance helped IBM provide the intuitive experience users were looking for, resulting in improved retention rates from 50% to over 70%. As well, IBM integrated WalkMe with key applications to centralize data and analytics, offering valuable insights into the customer journey. Overall, IBM has seen a 300% improvement in product usage, consumption, and retention since implementing WalkMe.
Poor in-product experience leads to customer abandonment
IBM has pioneered multiple influential technologies over its century-plus history, including the ATM, magnetic stripe card, and the barcode. Today, it is a leading cloud platform and cognitive solutions company. “In recent years, IBM has been at the forefront of digital transformation,” says Nilanjan Adhya, IBM’s Chief Digital Officer. “We’ve been helping our customers adopt digital technologies, and in the process, we’ve been adopting digital technologies as well.”
Due to the complex nature of B2B products, IBM needed a strategy to support customers through every stage of their experience. A number of products across IBM’s digital portfolio showed high user abandonment rates, rooted in early experiences with the products that left users disengaged.
Adhya and his team recognized that this gap in IBM’s digital offerings was having an effect on subscription rates and sales. He also knew a digital adoption strategy was critical to engage users, help them reach milestones, and improve customer acquisition.
“We knew that if we helped users reach ‘wow moments,’ those users would be much likelier to understand our product’s value and differentiation, and ultimately subscribe,” Adhya says.
In-app guidance to engage users, improve adoption
IBM’s first focus with WalkMe was to streamline the user experience. WalkMe functions as an invisible overlay for 25+ IBM products, allowing product teams to quickly deploy in-app guidance and other content to onboard users quickly and painlessly. “WalkMe leads users through setup and onboarding. They become better users and reach the outcomes they want to reach more quickly,” says Adhya. “WalkMe also delivers centralized in-product support, enabling users to quickly find the answers they need.”
Adhya’s team used WalkMe to aggregate all relevant support resources within their applications, and created Smart Walk-Thrus
(step-by-step on-screen guidance) of core product features that were difficult to achieve through documentation alone.
IBM also integrated WalkMe with Segment, a customer data and analytics platform. This enabled IBM to centralize and connect data across its digital platforms, to better understand and analyze its users, and to build personalized in-app user experiences. “We now have a comprehensive view of the customer journey, as well as information about usage and user behaviors,” Adhya says. “It allows our teams to help users better adopt products throughout the customer lifecycle.”
Our WalkMe and Segment integration allowed IBM to identify milestones for predefined user behaviors that are important parts of the user journey. The team found that a user who engages with WalkMe is 300% more likely to achieve a milestone than a user who had no in-application engagement. Similarly, a user that engages with WalkMe is also 300% more likely to return to the application 7 days after their initial log in than a user that did not.
Immediate impact: 6X higher retention, 4X better conversion rates
Implementing WalkMe has led to significant, measurable improvements in IBM’s digital product experience with 25 live instances of WalkMe and another 15 implementations in progress. Prior to WalkMe, IBM products had few in-app nurturing experiences. Now, IBM provides users with intuitive guidance and critical resources, ensuring each user has the support they need to reach their goals within the product. In addition, by integrating surveys directly into the experience, the IBM team was able to centralize feedback data and increase engagement.
“The impact of WalkMe was immediate,” says Adhya. “First and foremost, we were able to improve user adoption early on, resulting in 6X higher user retention and 4X better conversion rates from trials to subscriptions.”
“We enabled faster onboarding of our products, but we also enabled them to get support right at the point in the product where they need it,” says Adhya. Over 1,000 users used WalkMe to troubleshoot, instead of filing a support ticket, in just the first 2 weeks after deployment.
WalkMe has also benefited the IBM team’s day-to-day. No longer dependent on developer and product release cycles to make in-app experience changes, teams can now use WalkMe to make changes within a few hours—changes that previously took months of development and QA.
Integrating with Segment successfully gave them access to previously unobtainable user insights across the user journey. “For the first time, we are able to gather data around how our products are being consumed, and what was getting used,” says Adhya. As opposed to analyzing data across multiple systems, IBM can collect insights from just two powerful platforms. Adhya attributes a 96% improvement in efficiency of the development team to this improved data collection, saving around ~5 months of time that developers could spend on higher value projects.
“Overall, WalkMe has helped us improve product usage, consumption, and retention by 300%,” Adhya says. “Furthermore, it has helped us reach 80% digital offering revenue growth, which was 2X our target.”
About IBM
IBM is a leading cloud platform and cognitive solutions company. Restlessly reinventing since 1911, IBM is the largest technology and consulting employer in the world, with more than 350,000 employees serving clients in 170 countries. For more than seven decades, IBM Research has defined the future of information technology with more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents.
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By Richard Branson – Why we need to protect turtles

Incredible to see these cute hawksbill turtle hatchlings flip flopping over each other on Necker’s (aptly named) Turtle Beach as they make their way down to the ocean for the first time.
I love seeing this marvel of nature every year and as you can see in this picture, I’m standing very carefully so I don’t get too close to any of the little critters!

Image from Virgin.com
One of my favourite things about living in the BVI is being surrounded by such stunning scenery and nature. We are extremely fortunate to be able to witness such beautiful scenes. In the BVI the same turtles will return to the beach that they were born on to nest again for generations.
These wonderful turtles have been on our planet for 100 million years – yet it’s sad that their future is uncertain. Many species of turtles are vulnerable due to climate change, unsustainable fishing methods, pollution and in some parts of the world, hunting.
Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, six are internationally classified as vulnerable. Beach and coastal erosion, coastal development, pollution and climate change (warming seas and extreme storms) all impact these incredible creatures. The BVI is home to four of these species of turtles. Despite their dwindling numbers, a hunting season where certain species of turtles can legally be hunted and killed still exists. Thankfully not leatherbacks, which are widely protected in the Caribbean.
We have a huge responsibility to protect turtles from extinction. On Necker Island Turtle Beach is a protected area, which has happily become a favourite turtle nesting and breeding site. Unite BVI is working hard to help protect sea turtles from extinction through conservation programmes and advocacy. The BVI Conservation and Fisheries department are also working on conservation programmes and community education on the importance of these creatures to our entire eco system.
It’s time for all of us to make protection and conservation of our environment a priority – it’s why we are also supporting Ocean’s Unite’s campaign to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030.
We all have a lot to gain from protecting these amazing animals and from the ocean.

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How To Choose The Right Color For The Right Room

Natural is a safe but elegant choice.
Neutral colors such as beige, cream or white don’t usually stand out. They’re a safe choice because of that but they’re also elegant. Choose neutrals for the walls of the living room if you want it to look simple and classy but include a more vibrant accent color for the accessories.

Mix and match.
What’s great about a white background is that you can basically use any colors you like for the little things like the lamps, the photo frames, the area rug or the pillows. Take this opportunity to reate a cheerful décor.

Don’t underestimate gray shades.

Gray is a color that doesn’t really tell us much. It looks neutral but if you know how to use it can make the whole room stand out. Use a darker shade with a blue or purple tint for a glamorous look or a light shade for a bright and modern look.

Teal is a vibrant but also relaxing color.
Very few colors can be as bold as teal and still feel relaxing. Combine this color with bright shades to emphasize its royal look. It always look amazing when combined with white and yellow.

Purple always looks glamorous.

Many people are too afraid to use strong colors such as purple in their homes. However, it’s better to risk it with a bold shade than to have a boring house. Purple is a color that looks glamorous no matter what the setting is.

Yellow is the most cheerful color

Yellow is often associated with the sun and summer. It’s a wonderful color for small spaces because it makes them feel larger. It’s also great for spaces like playrooms. Yellow looks amazing when combined with white but it also usually needs a contrasting shade.

A darker shade of green can often look surprising.

Green is a fresh and vibrant color associated with nature but we rarely see dark shades of green in nature which is one such a color can often take us by surprise. Keep things simple and interesting at the same time.

Combine cool and warm colors.

A balanced décor should include both warm and cool colors. For example, If you paint the walls gray or blue, then use orange, red, yellow or brown for the furniture and accessories. You can mix and match several different shades as long as the overall look is harmonious.

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Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity—even if they’re young

Unconscious and intubated Covid-19 patients are treated in Vila Penteado Hospital’s ICU, in the Brasilandia neighborhood of Sao Paulo, on June 21, 2020. According ta a study published in June 21st, Brazil’s public hospitals, like Vila Penteado, had almost 40% death rates from the new coronavirus, the double from private hospitals. Brasilandia is one of the neighborhhods in Sao Paulo with highest number of deaths from Covid-19 (Photo by Gustavo Basso/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation.
This spring, after days of flulike symptoms and fever, a man arrived at the emergency room at the University of Vermont Medical Center. He was young—in his late 30s—and adored his wife and small children. And he had been healthy, logging endless hours running his own small business, except for one thing: He had severe obesity. Now, he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was increasingly short of breath.
He was admitted directly to the intensive care unit (ICU) and was on a ventilator within hours. Two weeks later, he died.

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“He was a young, healthy, hardworking guy,” recalls MaryEllen Antkowiak, a pulmonary critical care physician who is medical director of the hospital’s ICU. “His major risk factor for getting this sick was obesity.”
Since the pandemic began, dozens of studies have reported that many of the sickest COVID-19 patients have been people with obesity. In recent weeks, that link has come into sharper focus as large new population studies have cemented the association and demonstrated that even people who are merely overweight are at higher risk. For example, in the first metaanalysis of its kind, published on 26 August in Obesity Reviews, an international team of researchers pooled data from scores of peer-reviewed papers capturing 399,000 patients. They found that people with obesity who contracted SARS-CoV-2 were 113% more likely than people of healthy weight to land in the hospital, 74% more likely to be admitted to an ICU, and 48% more likely to die.
A constellation of physiological and social factors drives those grim numbers. The biology of obesity includes impaired immunity, chronic inflammation, and blood that’s prone to clot, all of which can worsen COVID-19. And because obesity is so stigmatized, people with obesity may avoid medical care.
“We didn’t understand early on what a major risk factor obesity was. … It’s not until more recently that we’ve realized the devastating impact of obesity, particularly in younger people,” says Anne Dixon, a physician-scientist who studies obesity and lung disease at the University of Vermont. That “may be one reason for the devastating impact of COVID-19 in the United States, where 40% of adults are obese.”
People with obesity are more likely than normal-weight people to have other diseases that are independent risk factors for severe COVID-19, including heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. They are also prone to metabolic syndrome, in which blood sugar levels, fat levels, or both are unhealthy and blood pressure may be high. A recent study from Tulane University of 287 hospitalized COVID-19 patients found that metabolic syndrome itself substantially increased the risks of ICU admission, ventilation, and death.
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But on its own, “BMI [body mass index] remains a strong independent risk factor” for severe COVID-19, according to several studies that adjusted for age, sex, social class, diabetes, and heart conditions, says Naveed Sattar, an expert in cardiometabolic disease at the University of Glasgow. “And it seems to be a linear line, straight up.”
The impact extends to the 32% of people in the United States who are overweight. The largest descriptive study yet of hospitalized U.S. COVID-19 patients, posted as a preprint last month by Genentech researchers, found that 77% of nearly 17,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were overweight (29%) or obese (48%). (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines overweight as having a BMI of 25 to 29.9 kilograms per square meter, and obesity as a BMI of 30 or greater.)
Another study captured the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations among more than 334,000 people in England. Published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it found that although the rate peaked in people with a BMI of 35 or greater, it began to rise as soon as someone tipped into the overweight category. “Many people don’t realize they creep into that overweight category,” says first author Mark Hamer, an exercise physiologist at University College London.
The danger of extra kilos
Among 334,000 people in England this spring, the chances of being hospitalized with COVID-19 increased steadily with their body mass index (BMI).

Hamer et al., PNAS, 10.1073/pnas.2011086117
The physical pathologies that render people with obesity vulnerable to severe COVID-19 begin with mechanics: Fat in the abdomen pushes up on the diaphragm, causing that large muscle, which lies below the chest cavity, to impinge on the lungs and restrict airflow. This reduced lung volume leads to collapse of airways in the lower lobes of the lungs, where more blood arrives for oxygenation than in the upper lobes. “If you are already starting [with] this mismatch, you are going to get worse faster” from COVID-19, Dixon says.
Other issues compound these mechanical problems. For starters, the blood of people with obesity has an increased tendency to clot—an especially grave risk during an infection that, when severe, independently peppers the small vessels of the lungs with clots. In healthy people, “the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels are normally saying to the surrounding blood: ‘Don’t clot,’” says Beverley Hunt, a physician-scientist who’s an expert in blood clotting at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospitals in London. But “we think that signaling is being changed by COVID,” Hunt says, because the virus injures endothelial cells, which respond to the insult by activating the coagulation system.
Add obesity to the mix, and the clotting risk shoots up. In COVID-19 patients with obesity, Hunt says, “You’ve got such sticky blood, oh my—the stickiest blood I have ever seen in all my years of practice.”
Immunity also weakens in people with obesity, in part because fat cells infiltrate the organs where immune cells are produced and stored, such as the spleen, bone marrow, and thymus, says Catherine Andersen, a nutritional scientist at Fairfield University. “We are losing immune tissue in exchange for adipose tissue, making the immune system less effective in either protecting the body from pathogens or responding to a vaccine,” she says.
The problem is not only fewer immune cells, but less effective ones, adds Melinda Beck, a co-author of the Obesity Reviews metaanalysis who studies obesity and immunity at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Beck’s studies of how obese mice respond to the influenza virus demonstrated that key immune cells called T cells “don’t function as well in the obese state,” she says. They make fewer molecules that help destroy virus-infected cells, and the corps of “memory” T-cells left behind after an infection, which is key to neutralizing future attacks by the same virus, is smaller than in healthy weight mice.
Beck’s work suggests the same thing happens in people: She found that people with obesity vaccinated against flu had twice the risk of catching it as vaccinated, healthy weight people. That means trials of vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 need to include people with obesity, she says, because “coronavirus vaccines may be less effective in those people.”
Beyond an impaired response to infections, people with obesity also suffer from chronic, low-grade inflammation. Fat cells secrete several inflammation-triggering chemical messengers called cytokines, and more come from immune cells called macrophages that sweep in to clean up dead and dying fat cells. Those effects may compound the runaway cytokine activity that characterizes severe COVID-19. “You end up causing a lot of tissue damage, recruiting too many immune cells, destroying healthy bystander cells,” says Ilhem Messaoudi, an immunologist who studies host responses to viral infection at the University of California, Irvine. Of the added risk from obesity, she adds: “I would say a lot of it is immune-mediated.”
The severity of COVID-19 in people with obesity helps explain the pandemic’s disproportionate toll in some groups. In American Indians and Alaska Natives, for example, poverty, lack of access to healthy food, lack of health insurance, and poor exercise opportunities combine to render “rates of obesity … remarkably high,” says Spero Manson, a Pembina Chippewa who is a medical anthropologist at the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health. And obesity “is connected to all these other [illnesses], such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, rendering us susceptible” to severe COVID-19, Manson says.
In addition, a large body of literature shows that people with obesity may delay seeking medical care due to fear of being stigmatized, increasing their likelihood of severe disease or death. “Patients that experience weight stigma are less likely to seek care and less likely to seek follow up because they don’t feel welcome in the health care environment,” says Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity medicine physician-scientist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.
COVID-19–specific research on this question is urgently needed, she adds. “We don’t know how many people are dying in the community that are never making it in,” Stanford says. “Maybe that was [due] to their weight or to their race, the two most prevalent forms of stigma in the U.S.”
For people with obesity, the extra risk adds a psychological burden, says Patty Nece, vice chair of the Obesity Action Coalition. “My anxiety is just totally ramped up,” she says, adding that because of stress eating she’s recently regained 30 of the 100 pounds she lost before the pandemic. “You have the general anxiety of this pandemic … and then you layer on top of it: ‘You in particular, you could get really sick.’”

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