This bobcat makes hunting for salmon look easy, and frankly puts human fishing to shame. Just reach in, grab a snack almost as big as yourself for breakfast, and even manage to stay mostly dry in the process.

The wildcat's expert display of fishing prowess was caught on camera in Washington's Olympic National Park by ranger Lee Taylor, who was out and about looking for salmon in the streams of Hoh, a temperate rainforest located within the park.

"I went looking for spawning salmon and found a fishing bobcat," Taylor wrote on the park's Facebook page. "You never know what you might come across even on a quiet snowy morning."
A bobcat walks along the Calero Creek Trail just outside of San Jose, California, United States. (Don DeBold/Wikimedia Commons)
Though getting to watch a bobcat fish or hunt might be unusual – they're primarily solitary and nocturnal creatures, meaning they generally hunt at night and away from prying eyes – fishing for a meal is hardly unusual for a bobcat (Lynx rufus).

These far-rangingopportunistic hunters are found throughout North America, as well as Canada and as far south as central Mexico – and their unfussy diets can sometimes land them odd meals. The felines tend towards smaller prey like fish, rabbits, rodents and birds, as well as other small animals local to their habitat. However, they'll occasionally try their luck with larger prey like deer or pigs.
In 2015, a bobcat was photographed dragging a shark out of the surf on a beach in Florida. The incident was unusual enough that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission examined the photo to verify it – and according to spokesperson Liz Barraco, it checked out.

"We have no reason to believe [the photograph is] fake," Barraco told National Geographic, noting that bobcats were strong occasional fishers. "But this is the first time we've seen them fishing in saltwater."

The animal apparently realised the shark was more than it had bargained for and abandoned its catch on the beach, but the capture itself was still a success. With the shark incident as context, it's perhaps less surprising that Washington's wild cat managed to nab a salmon so easily. One thing's for certain: with skills like that, the bobcat won't be going hungry anytime soon.

House Cat Origin Traced to Middle Eastern Wildcat Ancestor

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
June 28, 2007
Cat fanciers have long known that their
 feline friends have wild origins.
Now scientists have identified the
 house cat's maternal ancestors and
 traced them back to the Fertile Crescent.
The Near Eastern wildcat still roams the
 deserts of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other
 Middle Eastern countries. (See map.) 
Between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago
 the animal gave rise to the genetic
 lineage that eventually produced all
 domesticated cats.

"It's plausible that the ancient [domestic 
cat] lineages were present in the wildcat
 populations back as far as 70,000 or
 100,000 years ago," said study
 co-author Stephen O'Brien of the Nationa
 Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland.
The wildcats may have been captured
 around 10,000 or 12,000 years ago 
when humans were settling down to farming,
 he added.
"One of nearly 40 wild cat species existing 
at that time, the little wildcat that lived in the 
Middle East had a genetic variance that 
allowed it to sort of try an experiment—
let's walk in and see if we can get along 
with those people," O'Brien said.
One Hell of an Experiment
A research team led by geneticist Carlos
 Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute
 and scientists at the University of Oxford
 in England found five matriarchal lineages
 to which modern domestic cats belong.
"This tells us that domestic cats were sort
 of widely recruited, probably over time
 and space," Driscoll said.
But people probably weren't going out 
and catching—or herding—cats.
"The cats just sort of domesticated 
themselves. People today know that
 you can't keep a cat inside [without
 barriers], and 10,000 years ago in 
the Fertile Crescent you couldn't just
 shut the window."
Farmers were likely the first to 
domesticate wildcats. The animals may
 have been helpful in hunting mice and 
other pests that plagued farm fields in 
the early human settlements, which had
 just sprang from the first agricultural 
Agriculture led to cities and towns, 
as well as a new ecological environment
 that cats were able to exploit.
There are some 600 million house cats
 around the world, study co-author 
O'Brien added.

Cats on the Move

was one hell of a successful natural 
Once the formerly wild felines became
 household companions, the same cats
 appear to have accompanied human
 tribes as they gradually migrated and 
spread throughout the ancient world.
 (Check out our ancestors' journey 
through the Fertile Crescent.)
"It's sort of analogous to the 'out of 
Africa' theory that people talk about
 for humans," Driscoll said. "In the
 same way, domestic cats from Europe
 are really the same as domestic cats
 from Israel or China or wherever."
The earliest archaeological evidence
 for domestic cats has been found in
 Cyprus and dates back approximately 
9,500 years.
Cat studies of all types are hindered
 by the many physical and behavioral
 similarities between domestic cats
 and their wild relatives. In fact, it is 
often difficult or impossible for even
 the trained eye to tell them apart,
 and interbreeding has created
 many hybrids of the two.
Genetic Clues
Driscoll's study began because
 genetics may be one of the only
 ways to determine which cats are
 truly wild. His group managed to
 successfully herd about a thousand
wild and domestic cats and sample
 their DNA to produce the genetic 
study, which will appear in tomorrow's
 issue of the journal Science.
In search of cats' wild ancestor, the
 team studied modern wildcat 
subspecies including the Near 
Eastern wildcat, the European 
wildcat, the Central Asian wildcat,
 the southern African wildcat, and 
the Chinese desert cat.
The sampling of feline genes revealed
 that the Near Eastern wildcat and 
domestic cats fell into the same genetic
 clade, a group of species with the same 
ancestor. This meant the ancient ancestors
 of the wildcats were likely the first cats to
 be domesticated.
The genetic diversity of living cats 
revealed that they must have existed 
for some 70,000 to 100,000 years to
 produce that degree of diversity