GrindTV.com - Outdoor Blog


Sperm whales show in force off SoCal

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 01:48 PM PDT

sperm whales southern california

Sperm whales gather off Laguna Beach. These are four of perhaps 50 whales in scattered pods; image via ©Slater Moore Photography

Of all the rare catches and encounters off Southern California during the past several months, the showing Monday of as many as 50 sperm whales has to rank as the rarest—and certainly the most exciting.

The initial sighting of perhaps 12 of these iconic mammals was made at 11 a.m. by Larry Hartmann aboard the Ocean Explorer, which runs out of Newport Beach.

Hartmann was searching for a small humpback whale that had been frequenting an area two miles off Laguna Beach when he spotted a series of unusual blows in the distance.

“At first I thought they might be more humpbacks, but as I got closer I could tell by their blows that they were sperm whales,” said Hartmann, who also runs Captain Larry Adventures in Dana Point.

When he arrived alongside the whales, they were socializing with one another at the surface.

sperm whales southern california

Sperm whales side by side; photo by Frank Brennan/Dana Wharf Whale Watching

“They never went down,” Hartmann said. “They were playing with each other, and slapping their tails. It was amazing.”

Once Hartmann let on about the sighting, other whale-watching boats flocked to the area with GoPros and even drones, and promised exciting footage to local media. (See drone video above.)

That was when other pods were discovered, bringing the number of sperm whales to perhaps 50.

At 2:30 p.m., Gisele Anderson of Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari said she was watching two groups of 10 to 12 sperm whales, but could see another two groups not far in the distance. “A mother and calf just raised their heads and spy-hopped right near us,” Anderson said.

sperm whales southern california

Sperm whale rolls on its side; photo by Slater Moore Photography

Sperm whale sightings are extremely rare in coastal waters off Southern California, and sporadic sightings over the years have mostly involved single males or two males, feeding together.

The larger groups typically involve a mother, or mothers, and their young.

According to the latest estimate by NOAA, the minimum population of sperm whales off California, Oregon, and Washington is about 750 animals, which spend most of their time feeding so far offshore that they’re rarely seen. (NOAA on Monday said it would ask the Coast Guard to issue a notice to mariners, advising them to navigate carefully off Southern California, in case these mammals stick around for a few days.)

sperm whales southern california

Sperm whales take a peek at the SoCal coast; photo by Frank Brennan/Dana Wharf Whale Watching

Jay Barlow, a sperm whale expert with NOAA, said that he knew of only one other instance where a very large group of sperm whales passed between Santa Catalina Island and the mainland.

While this is an extraordinary event, this entire summer has been peculiar off Southern California, in terms of visits by aquatic species of fish or mammals that typically are found elsewhere.

Rare catches have included mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, blue marlin, wahoo, and pufferfish. Rare marine mammal sightings have included pilot whales, Bryde’s whales (also called tropical whales), and false killer whales.

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Sperm whale fluke; photo by Slater Moore Photography

This can be attributed largely to unusually warm water temperatures off Southern California and Baja California.

Sperm whales, a favorite target of whalers in the 18th and 19th century, were immortalized in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.”

Their epic battles with giant squid in the dark ocean depths have been made legendary. They’ve been known to dive more than 3,000 feet in pursuit of squid.

They’re the largest of all toothed whales, reaching lengths of 60-plus feet, and they can consume thousands of pounds of squid and fish per day.

It remains unclear how long the sperm whales might remain in the area, but many are hopeful that this won’t be a one-day wonder.

–Find Pete Thomas on Facebook and Twitter

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Couple in hot-air balloon rescued by surfers

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 10:55 AM PDT

hot-air balloon rescued by surfers

Hot-air balloon was towed to shore by surfers and lifeguards; video screen grab

It was a beautiful evening, with the setting sun casting brilliant colors across the horizon … an idyllic experience for a newly engaged couple aloft in a hot-air balloon, and the perfect moment to pop the question.

But it seems that for Eric Barretto and his fiancé, what will be remembered most about proposal night was being swept out over the ocean and becoming the subjects of an emergency rescue as the balloon descended into the breakers at a popular North San Diego County surf spot.

“It’s unforgettable. That’s all I can say,” Barretto told NBC News. “I don’t know if we’ll do it again.”

The bizarre incident occurred Sunday just before 7 p.m. at Cardiff State Beach. The pilot said the balloon had been carried much farther west than normal by offshore winds.

hot-air balloon rescued by surfers

Hot-air balloon being pulled to shore; photo courtesy of Jennifer Fenati

When it became apparent he could not venture back to the east, above land, the pilot thought the best course of action was to set the carriage down in the surf zone.

He managed to keep the balloon aloft long enough for surfers to grab ropes and help tow the balloon to shore. The couple, however, was asked to jump overboard and swim to the beach.

“Between the lifeguards and the bystanders in the water, the surfers here at Cardiff reef, everyone did a great job and they got the balloon back up onto the beach without injury,” Encinitas Marine Safety Capt. Larry Giles said.

The couple and the pilot were fortunate that this hadn’t occurred a day or two earlier, when the waves were much larger.

Several companies offer romantic sunset hot-air balloon odysseys in North San Diego County. They typically launch a mile or two inland, and are rarely seen near the ocean.

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GrindTV.com - Outdoor Blog


3 shark attacks in 2 days at Vandenberg AFB

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:18 PM PDT

A surfer and two kayak fishermen were attacked by sharks–or perhaps one shark–on Thursday and Friday at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, north of Santa Barbara.

All three attacks are believed to have involved great white sharks.

SharkDiverGWS

Generic great white shark image is courtesy of Martin Graf/Shark Diver

The attack on the surfer occurred Thursday, prompting the closure of beaches at the north end of the military base through the weekend. On Friday, kayak anglers were attacked in separate instances at the south end of the base.

As of the time of this post, Vandenberg acknowledged only Thursday’s attack on the surfer. It posted the news on its website homepage.

The kayakers, however, shared their news privately and on Facebook. Their story had yet to become mainstream news.

However, Vince Culliver, a fireman at Vandenberg and one of the kayak-fishing group, told GrindTv that he was about 10 feet away when his friend, Ryan Howell, was launched out of his 12-foot kayak, by a great white shark that measured nearly 20 feet.

The shark grabbed the stern of Howell’s kayak as it breached during the ambush attack, lifting the tail end and spilling Howell into the water. Culliver tried maneuvering his pedal-powered kayak to reach Howell, but wakes caused by the thrashing shark temporarily impeded his progress.

This was less than two hours after another kayaker, whose name Culliver could not recall, was knocked out of his kayak by a shark. The man was a novice paddling out with his son to meet the group.

Boaters were summoned via radio to assist both kayakers, whose vessels had been badly damaged.  It was not until after the second attack that the group decided to stop fishing and hurry to shore. The attacks occurred between noon and 2 p.m.

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Kayak damaged by great white shark attack at Vandenberg Air Force Base; photo via Jurassic Sportfishing

Details about the first incident are scant, but a statement posted Friday on the Vandenberg Air Force Base website states that the attack on the surfer, which occurred a quarter-mile north of Wall Beach, was not fatal.

It’s worth noting that these mark the fifth October attacks on Vandenberg Air Force Base beaches since 2010. (The public is allowed on VAFB beaches.)

A 2010 attack occurred on October 22 and claimed the life of Lucas McKain Ransom, 19, a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Ransom was bodyboarding with a friend at Surf Beach when he was bitten on the leg by a great white shark estimated to measure 14-plus feet.

The 2012 attack occurred on October 23 and claimed the life of Francisco Javier Solorio, 39, who was surfing with friends when he was bitten.

Solorio was helped ashore and attempts were made to revive the surfer, but paramedics arrived to find him dead at the scene.

Vandenberg Air Force Base is located in Santa Barbara County, about 130 miles north of Los Angeles.

On Friday the base posted this statement on its website homepage:

10/3/2014 – VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Surf, Wall, and Minuteman beaches are closed until Oct. 5, at 4 p.m. due to a confirmed shark attack one-quarter mile North of Wall Beach. The attack wasn’t fatal. Officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base are requesting the public avoid VAFB beaches due to safety considerations until 4 p.m. Oct. 5.

It’s unclear why October seems to be a particularly dangerous month along the stretch of coast on Vandenberg property.

However, this is the time of year that adult great white sharks begin arriving along the coast after spending months offshore.

White sharks typically feed on seals and sea lions, and scientists believe that surfers who are attacked by the ambush predators are mistaken as pinnipeds.

Most attacks on surfers involve only a single bite, helping to support this theory.

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5 exotic vacations for adventure seekers

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 02:03 PM PDT

Exotic vacation

Penguins can be observed right outside your tent on the Emperor Penguin Camping Tour in Antarctica. Photo courtesy Adventure Associates

If you’re looking for something different—really different—and you are feeling adventurous—really, really adventurous—then do we have some exotic vacations to suggest to you.

We’re not talking Yellowstone or Yosemite—not that there is anything wrong with visiting those iconic national parks. The exotic vacations we’re talking about range from Antarctica to the Arctic with an element of danger and/or thrill-seeking mixed in between.

So without further adieu, GrindTV Outdoors presents 5 exotic vacations for adventure seekers:

exotic vacation

Get up close and take spectacular photos of the emperor penguins. Photo courtesy of Adventure Associates

Exotic Vacation #1: Emperor Penguin Camping Tour, Antarctica

Travel to Union Glacier in Antarctica and camp with the emperor penguins at what is described as the only facility of its kind in Antarctica.

The nine-day tour begins by flying from Chile to Antarctica by private transport jet, landing on an ice runway, and staying at Union Glacier Camp in the remote southern Ellsworth Mountains. From there, guests are flown by ski aircraft to sea ice near the emperor penguin rookery where guides will set up came for the five-day stay among thousands of penguins.

“Watch adults display and feed their young,” the Adventure Associates website says. “Listen to trumpeting and whistling calls as parents and chicks search for one another. If lucky, we’ll photograph Weddell seals lazing by tide cracks. And at each step we’ll marvel at the magnificence of where we are. Each night, fall asleep to the mingled calls of thousands of Emperors.”

exotic vacation

Tourist are flown to an area next to an emperor penguin colony where they camp for five days among the penguins. Photo courtesy of Adventure Associates

Adventure Associates also offers a ship voyage that uses helicopters to get to the Snow Hill penguin colony in the Northern Weddell Sea. It also has flights to the South Pole.

“As the photos hint, being in that setting with the emperor penguins is a powerful, otherworldly experience,” Greg Mortimer of Adventure Associates told GrindTV Outdoor. “It is an overwhelming place to get a real sense of raw natural power.”

Departures are in November, and price includes a round-trip flight from Punta Arenas, Chile, meals and accommodations, and guided treks and climbs.

Price: $40,700.

exotic vacation

As exotic vacations go, being lowered into a volcano might top them all. Photo by © Vilhelm Gunnarsson courtesy of Inside the Volcano

Exotic Vacation #2. Inside the Volcano, Iceland

Iceland is one of the most active volcanic regions in the world because it sits on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where Eurasian and North American plates are moving apart. In the middle of this sits Thrihnukagigur volcano, which last erupted 4,000 years ago. Fortunately, it gives no indication of erupting in the near future.

A tour operator called Inside the Volcano offers tourists the chance to be lowered into the dormant volcano that features various colorations, is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty inside, and has a one-of-a-kind magma chamber.

exotic vacation

Entrance to Thrihnukagigur Volcano. Photo by © Evelina Kremsdorf courtesy of Inside the Volcano

“The magma chamber is often referred to as the heart of a volcano,” Inside the Volcano website says. “It’s there that the liquid rock waits to find a way through to the surface, causing a volcanic eruption. In most cases, the crater is usually closed after the eruption by cold, hard lava.

“Thrihnukagigur volcano is a rare exception to this, because the magma in the chamber seems to have disappeared. It’s believed that the magma solidified in the walls or quite simply retreated to the depths of the earth.”

exotic vacation

A steel cable elevator lowers tourists down into the Thrihnukagigur volcano. Photo by © Solve Fredheim courtesy of Inside the Volcano

The tour, which includes transportation from Reykjavik to near the volcano, starts with a 2-mile walk to get to the crater. There, tourists are lowered to the bottom of the volcano with an open cable elevator. Tours are five to six hours with up to 40 minutes inside the volcano. They run from May to October.

Price: $315 ($628 for the helicopter tour)

exotic vacation

You don’t have to be an experienced climber to enjoy climbing the world’s highest via ferrata in Malaysia. Photo courtesy of Mountain Torq

Exotic Vacation #3. Via ferrata climbing at Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

The best part about this adventure is that you don’t need to be an experienced climber to get a feel for high-altitude mountain climbing.

Mountain Torq, a mountaineering company in Malaysia, constructed what the Guinness World Records recognized as the world’s highest via ferrata, which is Italian for “iron road.”

A via ferrata is a climbing route that has a steel cable fixed to the rock running along the route, and often features iron rungs, ladders, bridges, and carved steps allowing otherwise dangerous routes to be easily accessed by inexperienced climbers.

The via ferrata made by Mountain Torq is 12,388 feet at its highest point and 11,191 feet at its starting point. It offers spectacular mountain surroundings and summit views.

exotic vacation

Climbers clip into a steel cable while negotiating across a suspension bridge at Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia. Photo courtesy of Mountain Torq

Three alpine sport climbing courses are available: Beginner Alpine Sport Climbing, Advanced Alpine Sport Climbing, and Alpine Sport Climbing—Lead climbing.

“Mt. Kinabalu is truly an alpine playground offering hikers and adventure seekers the ability to experience a range of mountaineering activities from hiking, via ferrata climbing, sport climbing, rock climbing to mountaineering expeditions,” Mountain Torq writes.

Price: $340 (includes mandatory one-night accommodation)

exotic vacation

A Gravity Bolivia mountain biking tour stops for a photo along the World’s Most Dangerous Road. Photo courtesy of Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking

Exotic Vacation #4. Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, Bolivia

No matter what the weather conditions, the World’s Most Dangerous Road, a.k.a. the Death Road, is always open for the clients of Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking in Bolivia.

exotic vacation

The Death Road tour consists of a narrow dirt road and a 40-mile, downhill bike ride. Photo courtesy of Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking

From La Cumbre at 15,400 feet, mountain bikers descend more than 11,800 feet over 40 miles of mostly downhill riding, including the World’s Most Dangerous Road.

“This infamous narrow dirt road is cut precariously into the side of the mountain and descends 2,000m (6,500 feet),” the Gravity Bolivia website says. “With 1,000m+ (3,300 feet) sheer drops off to our left and hulking rock overhangs and cascading waterfalls to our right, we ride through mist, low cloud and dust.”

Here’s a YouTube video describing the ride:

The entire ride takes four to five hours, and while it is potentially dangerous (there have been a reported 21 biker deaths on this road), it is not a difficult ride.

Price: $110

Exotic vacation

Arctic Watch is a five-star wilderness lodge located 500 miles above the Arctic Circle. Photo courtesy of Quark Expeditions

Exotic Vacation #5. Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, Nunavut, Canada

For the first time starting in 2015, Quark Expeditions is offering a land-based adventure in partnership with Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, Canada’s most northerly lodge located 500 miles above the Arctic Circle on Somerset Island in Nunavut.

Quark Expeditions, a leader in Polar adventures, is billing this as its most intimate Arctic program.

exotic vacation

Arctic Watch offers a world-class beluga whale observation site. Photo courtesy of Quark Expeditions

The Arctic Watch is a five-star wilderness lodge that has a world-class beluga whale observation site. Polar bears, muskox, Arctic fox, snowy owls, peregrine falcons, ring and bearded seals, and hares are among the Arctic wildlife tourists can expect to see.

The 10-day expedition includes locally sourced gourmet dining and fully guided activities such as hiking, kayaking, river rafting, zodiac cruising, and exploring the Arctic tundra in all-terrain vehicles and four-wheel drive trucks.

exotic vacation

Arctic Watch activities include exploring the Arctic tundra via ATVs. Photo courtesy of Quark Expeditions

“This will be a truly raw and untouched Canadian Arctic experience for nature enthusiasts around the world, all accessible within a short flight from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories,” Quark Expeditions said.

The adventure can be scheduled between the end of June to the middle of August. Maximum occupancy is 26 guests.

Price: $7,995+

Follow David Strege on Facebook 

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Another shark attack at Vandenberg AFB

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 01:54 PM PDT

A shark attack Friday at Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Santa Barbara, prompted the closure of three beaches on the military base until Sunday evening.

Details are scant but a statement posted Friday on the Vandenberg Air Force Base website states that the attack, which occurred a quarter-mile north of Wall Beach, was not fatal.  There were unconfirmed reports that kayakers were attacked by two sharks on Friday, including one that measured nearly 20 feet.

SharkDiverGWS

Generic great white shark image is courtesy of Martin Graf/Shark Diver

Area surfers might note that this marks at least the third October attack on Vandenberg Air Force Base beaches since 2010. (The public is allowed on VAFB beaches.)

The 2010 attack occurred on October 22 and claimed the life of Lucas McKain Ransom, 19, a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Ransom was bodyboarding with a friend at Surf Beach when he was bitten on the leg by a great white shark estimated to measure 14-plus feet.

The 2012 attack occurred on October 23 and claimed the life of Francisco Javier Solorio, 39, who was surfing with friends when he was bitten.

Solorio was helped ashore and attempts were made to revive the surfer, but paramedics arrived to find him dead at the scene.

Vandenberg Air Force Base is located in Santa Barbara County, about 130 miles north of Los Angeles.

On Friday the base posted this statement on its website homepage:

10/3/2014 – VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Surf, Wall, and Minuteman beaches are closed until Oct. 5, at 4 p.m. due to a confirmed shark attack one-quarter mile North of Wall Beach. The attack wasn’t fatal. Officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base are requesting the public avoid VAFB beaches due to safety considerations until 4 p.m. Oct. 5.

It’s unclear why October seems to be a particularly dangerous month along the stretch of coast on Vandenberg property.

However, this is the time of year that adult great white sharks begin arriving along the coast after spending months offshore.

White sharks typically feed on seals and sea lions, and scientists believe that surfers who are attacked by the ambush predators are mistaken as pinnipeds.

Most attacks on surfers involve only a single bite, helping to support this theory.

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The post Another shark attack at Vandenberg AFB appeared first on GrindTV.com.

Danny MacAskill survives making of ‘The Ridge’

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 09:06 AM PDT

Danny MacAskill

Danny MacAskill atop the Inaccessible Pinnacle. Photo is a screen grab from the video

What Scottish mountain bike stunt rider Danny MacAskill did in his latest video was so treacherous that his parents worried whether their son would come back alive.

“I was very apprehensive that he would seriously hurt or even kill himself,” Peter MacAskill told The Press and Journal of the U.K. “Danny didn’t go into details of what he did, to stop us worrying.”

What Danny MacAskill did was perform his usual array of mountain biking tricks, ride his mountain bike on some insane, death-defying lines on the 7-mile-long Cuillin Ridge of the Isle of Skye, and climb atop the infamous Inaccessible Pinnacle, a spectacular sight you see in the image above.

“I’ve always wondered whether it would be possible for me to ride my mountain bike up there,” MacAskill said at the beginning of the video. Well, turns out, it is possible. See for yourself in the video called “The Ridge,” made by Cut Media, based in Glasgow, Scotland:

As you can see, the scenery is spectacular and the stunts are vintage Danny MacAskill—the front flip over a wire fence at the 6:10 mark is a thing of beauty, too.

But climbing the 3,250-foot Inaccessible Pinnacle with mountain bike in tow is particularly stunning, not to mention daring.

Stu Thomson of Cut Media wrote about that part of the 10-day shoot in a blog, saying, “The day on the Inaccessible Pinnacle (THAT shot in the middle of the film) we left at 4 a.m. to be there for 7 a.m. That scene of Danny is about 7:30 am. Never in my life have I seen a crew of blokes so ecstatic to be awake at 7:30 a.m. That day was super special.”

Danny MacAskill

Danny MacAskill took more than one take to do a forward flip over a wire fence. Photo from Cut Media Facebook page

Thomson also explained that on most days the 10-man crew hiked a minimum of 2,952 feet to get up to the ridge and generally spent two to four hours going each way.

The effort was well worth it, as “The Ridge” is every bit as entertaining as previous pieces of works by Danny MacAskill, including “Epecuén,” “Industrial Revolution,” and “Way Back Home,” the film that elevated him to fame for his stunt riding.

“Ever since I was a kid growing up on Skye, I have always dreamt about riding a bike up on the Cuillin Ridge,” Danny MacAskill said, according to Bike Magazine. “The project took a lot of planning and was probably one of the most physically demanding films I have ever worked on. It was definitely a labor of love, [and] I wanted to show off the island for how it is, and make everyone who lives there proud to be from this amazing part of the world.”

He definitely did them proud.

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What the heck is cyclocross?

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 04:00 AM PDT

cyclocross

Tim Johnson racing cyclocross. Photo: Cannondale

Within the American cycling world, cyclocross is growing in popularity. But the average person still has no idea what it is. So, what is it? It’s a hilarious and unique form of cycling racing that requires athletes to ride multiple loops filled with various obstacles, such as stairs, steep banks, sand pits, and wooden barriers. It also includes pit crews and NASCAR-esque pit stops, largely because cyclocross is, in a word, muddy. Its crowds are large, crazy (translation: drunk), and vuvuzela-blaring, and the races are cheap to enter and don’t require a special bike or gear at first. (Riders can obviously move up to a cyclocross-specific bike if they like the sport and want to put more time into it.)

To get the scoop on this rising sport, we caught up with former mountain bike racer Tim Johnson, who is now at the top of the cyclocross world. He tells us why people are riding skinny-tired bikes around city parks, how ’cross has grown, and what he does to stay strong.

How did you get into cyclocross (and cycling)? What’s your backstory?

I was introduced to ’cross in the late summer of 1995 after finishing up the mountain bike season at the World Championships in Germany. I was 18 and had just represented the U.S. as a junior rider. Stu Thorne, now of Cyclocrossworld.com and our Cannondale/Cyclocross world team manager, asked if I’d like to join them at the race in early October. That first road trip to a small race in New England was just the beginning. I loved it, and by the end of that season I was the national champ.

What does it take to be good at cyclocross? What skills do you need to have?

A great cyclocrosser needs to have the ability to push their engine very hard. Our races take place at the upper reaches of heart rate and power. Couple that with the ability to think tactically while navigating a course that is very technical and varied and you have lots going on, all at a high intensity level.

How do you train specifically for it?

We have to be able to recover from each effort as quick as possible. Sometimes you only have four to five seconds where you’re not pedaling and you have to hit the reset button each time. It’s physically impossible to go 100 percent for one hour. We just try to do 99 percent for the hour and make that 1 percent of “chilling out” count!

What advice would you give newbies?

Have fun. You’re riding a bike that looks like a road bike but you’re on the dirt and in the woods. It takes lots of concentration to keep upright and going in the correct direction. Take a look around at those next to you and remember that you’re not the only one having a potentially challenging time, ha!

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Tim Johnson running his bike during a cyclocross race. Photo: Cannondale

Gear wise, if you’re making the move to cross, what do you need that’s different?

At first, not much. Cross races are really easy to jump into and try whether you’re on a mountain bike or a townie (a more urban bike). After you’ve tried, it makes sense to figure out how to move up to a CX bike and then seek out the next few chances to race locally. A surprising part about cyclocross gear is the way that we use tire pressure to gain performance. We are limited by the size of the tires we use, so tread pattern and pressure is what we adjust. Sometimes I’ll race with 18psi in my tires on a CX bike while on a road bike it’s more like 100psi to 110psi.

What’s the coolest part of it? Why do you love it?

Without a doubt, it’s the atmosphere. A cyclocross event is just a great mix of people who are there for the exercise and outdoor time. Everyone is there for the party. It’s not a bad bunch of folks we roll with.

Seems like a lot more people are racing cyclocross these days; how have you seen it change?

During my first CX race, we might have had 100 people across three categories in total. Now, we can have two to three events happening on the same weekend that each have 1,200 to 2,000 people. CX just passed mountain biking in number of “racer days” that USA Cycling uses to track cycling disciplines. Dropping into a non-UCI race from time to time reminds me just how much fun cross is to those who are finding it for the first time. The barriers to entry are so low that it’s really the most user-friendly of bike events.

Any personal rituals, tricks, or secrets?

I have gone through different phases over the years, but I think the most beneficial thing that I’ve added to my racing and training is eating well. Instead of seeking out food on race day when I’m hungry and risking getting hungry, I now plan ahead and make sure I have clean, whole food available for me to eat. I usually have rice and eggs, but I will usually time my meals so that I don’t have that empty stomach feeling where I’m in trouble. The racing we do is so high-intensity that we can burn more than 1,000 calories in just that one hour. With warmup time and bad weather, it becomes a tough day on the body.

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GrindTV.com - Outdoor Blog


Cam Zink hits huge 360 step-down for best trick

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 11:50 AM PDT

Cam Zink hits huge 360 step-down

Cam Zink, shown here during a practice run, took best trick with a massive 360 drop-down. Photo: © John Gibson/Red Bull Content Pool

Freerider Cam Zink added to his mountain biking resume at the Red Bull Rampage on Monday, adding a massive 360 step-down to take best trick of the competition. It’s said to be one of the largest 360 drops ever performed on a mountain bike.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Reno, Nevada, freerider to surpass the winning ride of Andreu Lacondeguy of Spain. Nevertheless, Zink’s trick, one everybody was talking about in practice, had the mountain biking community abuzz. Here’s his run with the big trick that earned him second place:

As the announcer said, Zink has done just about everything you can do on a mountain bike. He won the 2010 Rampage, and stole the show at last year’s Rampage with what at the time was the biggest backflip by a mountain biker, at 78 feet. That won him the best trick of the event.

Zink subsequently broke that “biggest backflip” record. In August, Zink set a Guinness World Record for the longest dirt-to-dirt mountain bike backflip, going 100 feet, 3 inches in a live broadcast on ESPN at Mammoth Mountain.

Now, if you want to see what Cam Zink’s ride looked like through his eyes, the POV video is right this way:

Zink was obviously disappointed with second place but found a silver lining.

“Second place with the best trick is about as close as it can get, like the best consolation, but I wish the judges liked my line a little better,” he told Red Bull. “But it is what it is. We’re happy. We’re walking. Yeah, it was good day, but [like a] true competitor, I want to win, that’s for sure.”

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Light-painting artist brings creatures to life

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 11:24 AM PDT

light art animals

Eagle and snake, by light-painting artist Darren Pearson; photo via Caters News

Imagine a world in which creatures of the universe, come nightfall, spring to life in a dazzling array of color and light.

Take the giant white eagle, for example, as it swoops down with outstretched golden talons toward a blue-green snake coiled in defense, and flicking its ruby-red tongue (top image).

Light art animals

Octopus by light-painting artist Darren Pearson; photo via Caters News

Or the mysterious octopus, perched on the rocky shore at twilight; or the enormous hammerhead shark, a brilliant white and classically shaped, lurking in the blackness beyond the city skyline; or the mighty scorpion, as bright as the stars, scampering across the desert.

These “light paintings” are the work of photographer Darren Pearson, 31, whose neon-light art is an attempt to bring certain critters to life, but in a larger-than-life fashion.

Light art animals

Scorpion by light-painting artist Dennis Pearson; photo via Caters News

The Southern California photographer uses sheets of LED lights and a long exposure, and essentially paints his animals with swirling circles of neon lights. He then sets them in real-life landscapes, which he captures with timelapse photography.

The giant eagle light painting, for example, is set along the Angeles Crest Highway in Los Angeles County.

Light art animals

Desert fox by light-painting artist Dennis Pearson; photo via Caters News

The scorpion is brought to life in the Anza-Borrego Desert, and the desert fox is set in Joshua Tree National Park.

Pearson told Caters News: “The photos themselves are not that difficult to make. However, an accurate depiction of the animal is always very difficult to capture.

Light art animals

Tiger by light-painting artist Dennis Pearson; photo via Caters News

“That’s why I do them. They’re challenging, and take a zen-type of concentration. They usually take more than one attempt to perfect.”

Pearson has been light painting since 2008. He was inspired by an image from Gjon Mili, which revealed Pablo Picasso creating a light drawing titled, “Pablo Draws a Centar.”

The Los Angeles-based Pearson, on his website, states that perhaps the most difficult aspect of his work involves “finding a cool spot without ambient light or sketchy night-people.”

Light art animals

Jellyfish by light-painting artist Dennis Pearson; photo via Caters News

He describes what goes into the creation of his light paintings as “spinning a glass prism in front of the camera while shining light into the lens to create rainbow prismatic circles.”

Most of his landscapes are far beyond the bright lights of L.A., scattered throughout Southern California.

The majestic seahorse, for example, is set in Torrey Pines State Park in north San Diego County.

The tiger is in Los Angeles, presumably at the L.A. Zoo.

Said Pearson: “I wanted to get more natural with these pictures and pay homage to the creatures and their homes that I’m visiting.”

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Pat Keller paddles on despite injury

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 04:00 AM PDT

Pat Keller

Pat Keller running the Green Race backwards on purpose (called switchback). He’s going through the Notch right above Gorilla. Photo by Curtis England

At 28 years old, Pat Keller is one of the most accomplished whitewater kayakers in the U.S. He’s bagged at least a dozen first descents, including the 100-foot Ozone Falls in Tennessee. He may also be one of the most broken—he recently snapped his collarbone, his ninth major injury during his 15 years in the extreme sport.

But his attitude is, “Who’s counting, right?”

Pat Keller's broken hand

One of Pat Keller’s many injuries: a broken right fourth metacarpal. X-ray courtesy Pat Keller

“I’d say do what you love and pursue your goals, however lofty, while your body is heading toward its peak,” says Keller. “I know I’m gonna hurt when I’m older. But Tao Berman put it pretty well when he said, ‘I don’t wanna regret having not run something.’”

Keller’s choice of whitewater kayaking as his primary focus even began with an injury. As a kid, Keller participated in different sports until he tore the ACL in his right knee. “I focused my attention on kayaking at age 9 because I could no longer ski and do gymnastics,” he says.

“Pat walked up to me around that time and said he was going to grow up to be a world-class kayaking instructor and travel the world,” said Shane Benedict, Keller’s old instructor at Adventure Quest and Liquidlogic Kayaks cofounder. “One of the strongest attributes of Pat as a paddler is that he has his own style and his own vision of what is possible in a kayak.”

With a year of world-class instruction, Keller moved on to win short boat in North Carolina’s Green Race at age 15 (and different classes again at 20, 21, 22, and 27), earn a silver medal at the Freestyle World Championships at 17, and win the Homestake Creek Race in Colorado at 20. There was no stopping him.

Except, of course, for the injuries, like when he broke the second metacarpal of his left hand running an 80-footer in Costa Rica, and a cracked a rib running a 40/40 on the Class V+ Toxaway Creek in North Carolina. These injuries are sprinkled in among others from sports such as dirt biking and motocross.

Pat Keller

Pat Keller running Gorilla Rapid; photo courtesy Curtis England

But Keller heals and then keeps on going, despite what some of his critics say.

“I’ve been told things like, ‘You’ll regret this when you’re older and can’t do the sport anymore at 35,’” says Keller. “Another good one is the simple ‘Dude, what the f***?’”

Whitewater kayaking has entered an age where paddlers now run 100-foot waterfalls around the world and complete incredibly difficult first descents in remote and dangerous countries like the Republic of Congo and Mexico. Those who survive these expeditions usually end up with injuries, a broken back and shoulder being the most common, that affect them the rest of their lives. The evolution of this and other adrenaline sports begs the question: Is the risk worth the cost?

For Keller, it is.

Pat Keller broken collarbone

An injury like this might make your average athlete reconsider the risks he takes in paddling. Not so with Pat Keller. X-ray courtesy Pat Keller

“Few other sports exist where humans, in our tiny levels of understanding and thin muscles, can dance with and become a part of something so powerful and so visceral,” he says. “Kayaking, mountain biking, and skiing all share that trait, and that’s why I love them. It’s whatever we want to make of it.”

After a certain level, death becomes a bigger risk. Flush drowning and blunt force trauma are almost annual occurrences on Idaho’s North Fork Payette. The Great Falls of the Potomac took a life a year and a half ago. A Class V+ steep creek in New Hampshire took the life of an American Whitewater staff member in 2012. These and other deaths were high-level paddlers on stout whitewater runs. At a certain point, the margin for error becomes razor thin.

Given the risks Keller faces every day, he must balance logic and safety with his desire to become one with nature—for the sake of his health and the sanity of his loved ones. This is why Keller says that kayakers must prepare as much as possible for the challenges associated with their sport—they must work on the skills they need and develop their body strength to keep themselves at that peak level as long as possible. They must also try to avoid injury by listening to their instincts, and making the best choices given their realm of experience, knowledge, and confidence.

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‘Trail Doctor’ offers humorous biking tips

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 03:00 AM PDT

A new video series has arrived to fix what ails you on the trails. Thirty-year mountain bike industry veteran Dan Milner, dubbed the “Trail Doctor,” combines humor with some seriously helpful tips for riding and maintaining mountain bikes in 12 upcoming on-trail eponymous episodes.

Milner’s tips and tricks come from traveling and testing the limits of his bike and body, such as one memorable event in Les Deux Alpes, France. “I took a fall and tore my knee ligaments. Then while trying to still ride down the mountain to safety, I punctured [got a flat tire],” Milner says. “The only tube I had was a fat, car-type Schrader valve, but my wheel rims were drilled to take narrow, high-pressure Presta valves. I had to gouge out the valve hole using my multi-tool to take the wider valve, while my knee began to balloon to the size of my head.”

Trial Doctor

Dan Milner, a.k.a. the “Trail Doctor,” works on changing a mountain bike tire. All photos courtesy of Dan Milner

While tubeless technology is making flat tires less common these days, it’s still important to know the basics of changing a tire, so you can help yourself—and maybe others—on the trail. “Fixing punctures is easy and quick if you do it right, but get it wrong, and it can eat 10 or 20 minutes out of a ride,” Milner says. “Those are 20 minutes that feel like an eternity if you’re waiting for someone to get it right, and they are 20 minutes that are way more fun to spend railing singletrack.”

Milner says tubeless tires present their own set of problems to learn to fix, and for the moment most people are still riding tubes. “We’ll get around to tubeless before long. There’s a new episode every two weeks!”

Dan Milner, a U.K.-based photographer, has been involved in every aspect of the mountain bike industry, including bike mechanics, sales, and testing. “I first threw my leg over a ‘mountain bike’ back in 1985, in the toeclips and pre-helmet days of riding footpaths of South Wales,” Milner says. “But it’s my 17-year career as a mountain sports photographer, with a taste for challenging adventures, that has most sculpted my name as a mountain bike aficionado. I’ve ridden MTBs in remote places—from Afghanistan to Argentina to India to Morocco—and a lot of places in between.”

trail doctor

Trail Doctor Dan Milner negotiates some rocky terrain in Nepal.

Milner’s favorite type of riding these days is “enduro” all-mountain style. “Nothing beats earning your descents in some place that feels like it’s just you, the trail, and whatever it throws at you,” he says. “Learning to get yourself out of trouble means you can go ride these kind of places.”

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GrindTV.com - Outdoor Blog


35,000 walruses spotted on Alaska beach

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 01:51 PM PDT

35,000 walruses spotted on Alaska beach

Walruses mass together on beach near Point Lay, Alaska; photo by Corey Accardo/NOAA

Scientists conducting aerial surveys recently spotted an estimated 35,000 Pacific walruses gathered tightly on a remote beach in Northwest Alaska.

While it was an impressive sight, the mass gathering is troubling because walruses typically haul out more sporadically on floating ice in the Chukchi Sea, their feeding grounds above the Arctic Circle.

The mammals require sea ice on which to rest. But this summer there is virtually no ice, and the extraordinary scene on the beach near Point Lay, an Inupiat Eskimo village, helps to illustrate the possible effects of climate change in the region.

35,000 walruses spotted on Alaska beach

Photo by Corey Accardo/NOAA

The aggregation, photographed Saturday, is one of the largest in recent years. But there have been others during the past decade: first in 2007, then in 2009. In 2011, a gathering about the same size as the recent gathering appeared on the same half-mile stretch of beach near Point Lay.

Point Lay is located 300 miles southwest of Barrow and 700 miles northwest of Anchorage.

Pacific walruses spend winters in the Bering Sea. Females give birth on sea ice and use ice as platforms from which to dive for snails, clams, and worms. Their long tusks help them haul out onto the ice.

Each summer, as sea ice recedes north, females and their young follow the remaining ice into the Chukchi Sea, north of the Bering Strait.

The massive haul-outs are troubling not just because of a climate change standpoint. They are dangerous for the animals. Younger, weaker walruses can be trampled or suffocated.

Andrea Medeiros, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, told the Associated Press that a survey team counted about 50 carcasses last week. The animals might have been killed during a stampede.

A necropsy team is scheduled to collect the carcasses next week, to try to determine a precise cause of death.

Also, because the walruses have traveled so far from their feeding grounds, they might lack the strength and nourishment needed to return to feeding areas.

Environmental groups, naturally, are very concerned.

“The massive concentration of walruses onshore—when they should be scattered broadly in ice-covered waters—is just one example of the impacts of climate change on the distribution of marine species in the Arctic,” Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic program, said in a statement.

Williams added that mass walrus haul-outs also have been documented on the Russian side of the Chukchi Sea.

She continued: “The walruses are telling us what the polar bears have told us and what many indigenous people have told us in the high Arctic, and that is that the Arctic environment is changing extremely rapidly and it is time for the rest of the world to take notice and also to take action to address the root causes of climate change.”

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Chinese man sets planking world record

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 11:07 AM PDT

planking world record

Mao Weidong sets planking world record in Beijing, China. Photo: Associated Press

Amid much fanfare, a Chinese man set a Guinness World Record for the longest time in an abdominal plank position with an incredible duration of 4 hours, 26 minutes.

Mao Weidong, a police officer from the Beijing SWAT team that was formed in 2005 to combat violent crimes and terrorism, accomplished the planking world record last Friday in an auditorium at the SWAT training base outside Beijing, China, according CCTV News and other media outlets.

Cameramen, media, and an audience watched as Mao took his position on a raised platform equipped with a clock. Resting only on his elbows and tiptoes, Mao proceeded to smash the previous planking world record of 3 hours, 7 minutes and 15 seconds set by American athlete George Hood in 2013.

China News did a report on the achievement. Though it’s in Chinese, you can get an idea of just how serious people took this planking world record:

To really get a sense of how awesome this record truly is, just try it for 4 minutes and see how well you do.

“I can’t do 3 minutes!!” one person wrote on the CCTV News Facebook page.

planking world record

Mao Weidong (left), who set a planking world record, receives his Guinness World Record certificate. Photo from CCTV Facebook page

A senior officer told CCTV News that Mao’s daily training contributed to his achievement.

Equally remarkable is that people actually sat there and watched him for 4 hours, 26 minutes. Other than sweat and take an occasion sip of water from someone offering a water bottle, Mao didn’t do much other than remain in the abdominal plank position for much, much longer than your average NFL game.

Entertainment-wise, it probably ranks up there with watching paint dry.

Interestingly, Mao’s time has additional significance other than just being a planking world record. Mao was intentionally shooting for the time of 4 hours, 26 minutes as a goal because April 26 is his wife’s birthday.

Whew—good thing she wasn’t born in December.

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Great white shark attacks one of its own

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 09:57 AM PDT

Great white shark attacks great white

Great white shark asserts dominance over smaller white shark; video screen grab

A passenger on a shark-diving expedition off South Australia has captured rare footage of a large great white shark attacking a smaller white shark.

It remains unclear, however, whether that was the larger shark’s intention, at least initially, or whether it had merely been going after the bait when the smaller shark, after making a pass at the bait, got in its way. (See video.)

The fate of the smaller shark also remains unclear.

Adam Malski, 33, was back on the boat at the time of the dramatic clash, which he captured on video. The rare event also was witnessed by the captain and dive master near Neptune Island, 50 miles at sea.

The bait, presumably a large fish, had been tied to a rope and set beyond the stern. Cages are beneath the surface behind the stern, allowing divers to get up-close views of sharks as they’re lured in by the scent of the bait.

great white shark

Great white shark as seen from the safety of a cage; video screen grab

Malski told the U.K. Mirror: “The day where the shark attacked the other was surreal. I asked the dive master and skipper of the boat what would happen if a smaller shark got in the way of a larger shark. The skipper responded: ‘The big shark would take the smaller one down.’

“Literally six seconds later, that amazing scene was witnessed by me, the skipper, and the dive master. They had never seen anything like it before.”

The footage was making the rounds Tuesday on Facebook, and shark experts were chiming in.

The Marine Science Conservation Institute, run by Michael Domeier, commented:

“Very interesting white shark vs. white shark moment caught on film. We have seen violent aggression between adult white sharks at Guadalupe Island … not so sure this is what’s happening in this clip. It looks like both sharks were going for the same bait and ended up mouth-to-mouth. Didn’t end so well for the little guy!”

Mexico’s Guadalupe Island is one of the world’s premier shark-diving destinations, in part because of the amazing water clarity. I’ve been on two dives there and observed from topside larger sharks asserting their dominance as they and other sharks maneuver around the stern, investigating the area close to the bait.

Martin Graf of the company Shark Diver added: “From my observations, it is unusual for a much bigger shark to bite a much smaller one. Typically those bites happen between sharks of similar size. Most sharks under about 9 feet at Guadalupe are pretty clean (free of scars). The biggest number of bites (aside from mating bites) are on males from about 11 feet to 14 feet long.”

Passengers on most shark-diving expeditions, wherever the location, typically emerge with an enhanced appreciation of the apex predators, after being able to see them up close and watch how gracefully, yet cautiously, they maneuver through their realm.

Said Malski: “I spent many hours observing them in their territory and up close and saw 18 magnificent creatures in total. All of which were inquisitive but not aggressive.

“Even when one bumped my hand and camera when I was 20 meters underwater, there was no aggression—just inquisitiveness.”

Most adult white sharks have unique markings, or scars, and outfitters often give them names.

The large shark that attacked the smaller shark is named Gilbert.

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Experience fall at this Appalachian getaway

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 05:00 AM PDT

Mohonk Preserve

Mohonk Preserve is nature’s Photoshop—no need for filters here. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

If hiking had to choose a favorite season, it would most definitely pick fall. Low crowds, plenty of sunshine, cool but not cold temperatures—walking around in the outdoors was meant to happen from September through November. But while East Coast leaf-peeping crowds scamper off to New England to catch the changing season, Mohonk Preserve along the New York Appalachians is in the Big Apple’s backyard, and one of the best kept secrets in the state.

With more than 40 miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding, the preserve offers plenty of adventure and enough terrain to sustain it. One of the highlights has to be the Mohonk Mountain House, an old 20th century hotel that still operates on the picturesque cliffs above Mohonk Lake. Stolen straight from a Bavarian postcard, it’s pretty hard to believe this little niche in upstate New York is home to such natural beauty.

Before straying too far from home, the Tri-State needs to add Mohonk to their weekend to-do list. Here’s everything you need to know.

Mohonk Preserve

There’s a certain magic to a leaf-covered walk in the woods, and Mohonk is no exception. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

What: Mohonk Preserve is an 8,000-acre private land trust and member supported nature preserve along the northern edge of the Shawangunk Ridge (a section of the Appalachian Range). The preserve partnered with the Mohonk Mountain House in 1986 to become a National Historic Landmark and currently receives about 150,000 annual visits from hikers, climbers, and skiers.

Where: Just 90 miles north of New York City, Mohonk is located in Ulster County near New Paltz and Gardiner.

How to get there: From New York City, take I-87 North to exit 18. Follow signs for Route 299 West, then turn right on to Route 44. The visitor center will then appear on your right.

When to go: Fall! Summer and spring aren’t bad times to be in the woods, but when the leaves are changing up north, it’s hard to beat a fall hike.

Mohonk Preserve

Prominent ridgelines run through the preserve, making for good climbing and some good overlooks. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Must hit: There are several good vantage points in the preserve, but the Staircliff Path offers some of the best views out over Mohonk Lake and the iconic mountain hotel. For a longer hike, the High Peters Kill hike is a 7.5-mile round-trip with awesome ridge views. For climbers, the area offers more than five linear miles of cliff face with more than 1,000 routes and tons of bouldering options.

Do: If you’re going to get a couple weekends in, buy a trail pass. It costs $55, but it’ll pay itself off pretty quickly considering you’ll pay $12 each trip otherwise.

Don’t: Park at the Mohonk Mountain House. Though it is partners with the preserve, it is a private resort and you will get a nice fat ticket. There are four trailheads around the preserve that offer parking, so check the Mohonk Preserve website for more info.

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How to freedive for California spiny lobster

Posted: 01 Oct 2014 04:00 AM PDT

California spiny lobster

A California spiny lobster hides in a crack in 20 feet of water off the San Diego coastline. Photo by Justin Coté

With the season for California spiny lobster just opened, now is the perfect time to get out there and grab yourself some of the most sought after crustaceans on the West Coast. Plentiful from Monterey Bay to Baja California, spiny lobster can be hunted from September 27 until March 18, 2015. While anglers can catch spiny lobster with hoop nets or on scuba, the most challenging and therefore rewarding way is to freedive for them. Here are a few tips to get you started …

The various gear you'll need to hunt California Spiny Lobster; photo Justin Coté

The various gear you’ll need to hunt California spiny lobster. Photo Justin Coté

What gear you need
-Mask and snorkel
-Thick, warm wetsuit
-Weight belt
-Gardening gloves
-Swim fins
-Dive bag
-Lobster gauge to measure your catch
-Fishing license and lobster report card

Where to go
Lobsters don’t like sandy bottoms; they prefer rock structure and reef. You could be the best freediver in the world but if you’re in the wrong spot you’re going to surface empty-handed every time. Ask around … just don’t ask me where my spot is!

California spiny lobster

Because it had room to scoot back with a flick of the tail, this California spiny lobster wasn’t landed, but did make for a cool shot. Photo by Justin Coté

How to do it
While floating on the surface, look for slight overhangs, caves, and cracks in the reef. Once you’ve spotted a spot where you think there may be some bugs, relax and breathe deep. Upon descent, aim straight down to get to the bottom quickly and without wasting oxygen. Once you’ve spotted your prey, quickly figure out the best angle for attack. Grabbing them by the antennae doesn’t work, as they’ll just break off. You need to grab it by the carapace (head) and hold tight as it flips its tail in an attempt to free itself and not become dinner. Also, a lot of times you’ll see a cluster of lobster; take a second to find the biggest one and go after that one. Be patient and don’t stress when you lose a few; the act of grabbing a lobster is the toughest part and takes a lot of practice.

Be careful of
-Getting your arm stuck in a cave. No lobster is worth losing your life over!
-Taking small lobster—the carapace must measure at least 3.25 inches to be legal, and the limit is seven lobsters per person. Fines are steep; don’t be a poacher! For a complete list of rules and regulations go to dfg.ca.gov.
-Rip currents, rogue waves, banging your head on rocks, and other dangers associated with the ocean. Always dive with a buddy!
-Diving at night. This can be very rewarding, but take even more precaution than you would during the daytime.

California spiny lobster

With the going rate for California spiny lobster between $25 and $35 per pound, this is about $80 worth of food. Note that it’s illegal to remove the head until you get home and are about to cook it. Photo by Justin Coté

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GrindTV.com - Outdoor Blog


Andreu Lacondeguy wins Red Bull Rampage

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 02:45 PM PDT

After a weekend of thunderstorms, rebuilding lines, and weather delays, Andreu Lacondeguy of Spain emerged Monday as the winner of the Red Bull Rampage 2014—finally.

Lacondeguy was a fourth-place finisher in each of the last three Rampage events but this time beat out previous winners Cam Zink of the U.S. (second), Brandon Semenuk of Canada (third), and defending champion Kyle Strait of the U.S. (fourth). Lacondeguy scored 95.25 in his first and only run at the event in Virgin, Utah.

“I’ve always believed in myself,” Lacondeguy said, according to The Spectrum. “I’ve been getting better every year and knew it was just a matter of time before I would be on the podium.”

Andreu Lacondeguy wins Red Bull Rampage

Andreu Lacondeguy of Spain during the finals of Red Bull Rampage 2014. Photo: © Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

Lacondeguy’s winning run can be seen at the top. If that looks treacherous, watch what it looked like through the eyes of Lacondeguy, who went down the steepest and most difficult run possible:

More from The Spectrum:

He capped the run off with a huge flatspin backflip off the Polaris RZR booster. After his terrific first run, riders down at the bottom were waiting and cheering as they witnessed one of the top runs in Rampage history. Lacondeguy was awarded a score of 95.25 on his first run.

His first run was all that he needed as other riders were unable to top his score after their second runs.

“I knew I needed that extra little bit to be on the top and this year I just picked the steepest line,” he said. “As soon as I heard the countdown I just got out of the cage and pinned it to the bottom.”

h/t Bike magazine

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Coyote struck by SUV, gets stuck in bumper

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 11:11 AM PDT

coyote gets stuck in bumper

Coyote struck by car got stuck in the bumper. It’s expected to recover from three fractured legs. Photo is from the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Facebook page

A train conductor on his way to work arrived at the Waukegan, Illinois, train station employee parking lot with a number of people staring at the front of his SUV. What they saw defied logic. A coyote was stuck in the bumper, and it was still alive.

Mark Armour, the driver of the SUV, was as surprised as his co-workers, who first thought the animal was a fox.

Armour immediately called the police and an animal control officer was sent to the scene.

Coyote resting comfortably after having fractured legs

Coyote was resting comfortably after having its fractured legs set. Photo is from Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Facebook page

“He said he thought he hit something, he could feel it, but he didn’t see anything,” animal control officer Amber Manley told the Lake County News-Sun.

Manley knew right away it wasn’t a fox but a coyote, and was amazed it fit perfectly into the tight space.

“It was even more amazing he survived,” she told Lake County News-Sun.

Manley used safety equipment to prevent getting bitten as she extracted the animal from the bumper. The coyote was docile and apparently in shock.

Manley transported the coyote to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation where it was determined the animal had three fractured legs. The fractures were set and the coyote was given antibiotics.

The next day the coyote was alert and eating. Officials are hoping the coyote makes a full recovery and can be returned into the wild in the spring.

“I was the driver!” Armour wrote on the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Facebook page. “I am so glad ‘Vern’ will recover. I will be putting the shoulder to my coworkers, to raise some funding to donate to Vern’s recovery. Thank you so much for taking care of him.”

Vern is no doubt appreciative.

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Bow angler shoots world-record mako shark

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 10:17 AM PDT

world-record mako shark

809.5-pound mako shark was shot off Huntington Beach; photo courtesy of Jeff Thomason

For the second time this summer, the host of a television hunting show has traveled to California and used a bowfishing outfit to capture a world-record mako shark.

Also for the second time, the bow angler is being assailed via social media by shark fans and conservationists.

Jeff Thomason is the latest record-setter. The 809.5-pound mako shark he shot and reeled in recently off Huntington Beach has been approved by the Bowfishing Association of America as the new record.

world-record mako shark

Large mako shark swims near boat off Huntington Beach; photo courtesy of Jeff Thomason

Thomason, who is from Texas and hosts the show, “Predator Pursuit,” shattered the previous mark: a 544-pound mako shark landed in mid-June by Patrick Eger, the host Big E TV in Wisconsin.

Large mako sharks roam pelagic waters off Southern California, making the area popular among local and visiting anglers.

Most local anglers and shark-fishing outfitters, however, maintain a low profile because of an increasingly vociferous anti-shark-fishing element.

world-record mako shark

About 400 punds of meat from world-record mako shark was donated to a shelter for homeless; photo courtesy of Jeff Thomason

Fishing for mako sharks is legal, but all species of sharks are believed to have been over-fished to some degree over the years, and news of the capture of a large shark for record consideration, or as a trophy, invariably draws sharp criticism.

When word of Thomason’s catch began to spread on the Internet this past week, it was met with the same type of disapproval that accompanied Eger’s catch.

“Why all this stupid macho thing?” reads one of dozens of Facebook comments on the White Shark Interest Group page, which has more than 18,000 members.

“Why didn’t he get in the water and shoot it with that bow?” reads another.”

There was at least one comment in defense of Thomason: “Makos aren’t threatened and [they’re ] widely eaten… This WAS NOT finning and the meat [was] not wasted.”

The global shark-finning trade is the reason many shark species are in peril. Estimates place the number of sharks killed for their fins, to be used in soup in Asian markets, at nearly 100 million per year.

Thomason told Lone Star Outdoors that his group, which like Eger’s group was fishing with guide “Mako” Matt Potter, encountered a few great white sharks during its expedition, but could not shoot them because white sharks, unlike makos, are protected.

The mako was lured to the boat by chumming fish parts and blood, a common method among conventional anglers, too.

It wasn’t long before Potter spotted a large mako approaching the boat.

“They’ve got to be about three feet from the boat to get the arrow to stick, so we threw a fish on the line and teased him to the boat,” Thomason recalled. “I try and shoot for the top of the back. As soon as the arrow hit, all hell broke loose.”

With the aid of Potter maneuvering the boat during the fight, the mako was reeled in and subdued in about 15 minutes. (Arrows are attached to a line, fixed to a big-game reel.)

“There was a certified weigh station in Los Angeles, so we had someone bring a boat trailer and we loaded him just like a boat,” Thomason said. “We threw a tarp over him because he was already attracting a crowd. It was pandemonium at the dock.”

The episode was recorded for an upcoming show, and Thomason said about 400 pounds of meat from the shark was donated to a shelter for the homeless in Los Angeles.

For the sake of comparison, the world record for a mako shark caught on rod and reel stands at 1,221 pounds. It was caught by Luke Sweeney in 2001 off Chatham, Massachusetts.

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Ivan Trifonov pilots hot air balloon underground

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 02:36 PM PDT

hot air balloon underground

Ivan Trifonov claims to be the first to pilot a hot air balloon underground. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Generally, when you think of a hot air balloon, you think of it rising high into the sky. Ivan Trifonov decided to take his in the opposite direction—underground.

In what is believed to be a world first, Trifonov piloted a hot air balloon underground via the 675-foot Mamet Cave on Velebit Mountain in Croatia.

Trifonov, a Bulgarian who lives in Austria, piloted the hot air balloon over the 200-foot opening, descended into the cave, touched the bottom, and ascended out, claiming the feat as a first.

The flight on Sept. 18 took 25 minutes and is condensed in this raw video from the Associated Press that was first released Monday:

Trifonov, 70, already has established Guinness World Records as the first to fly a hot air balloon over the Mediterranean Sea, in 1989, over the North Pole, in 1996, and over the South Pole, in 2000. He was also reportedly the first to fly over Jerusalem, the Great Wall of China, and the Kremlin in a hot air balloon.

hot air balloon underground

Ivan Trifonov already owns Guinness World Records as the first to hot air balloon over the North and South poles, and Mediterranean Sea. Photo is a screen grab from the video

His stunt flying a hot air balloon into a cave was filmed at various angles, as you can see. He told Associated Press: “It was very hard, and I don’t think anyone else will ever repeat this venture.”

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Marathon runners slowed, not stopped by train

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 02:08 PM PDT

Marathon runners slowed, not stopped by train

Marathon runners try to get in front of unexpected freight train; supplied photo via the Republic

Marathon runners in Columbus, Indiana, were just beginning to hit their stride Saturday when a freight train rolled in front of their path and stopped them in their tracks … but only temporarily.

It was a bizarre scene that many competitors will be talking about for weeks, because at one point during the drawn-out delay, many runners decided enough was enough: They began scurrying between cars, climbing under cars, and even scrambling over cars in order to continue.

“There were so many people, and they just wanted to make their time, [so] they just didn’t care,” one witness told ABC 6, which reported that there were two delays caused by the same train.

About 300 people participated in the Mill Race Marathon.

Race organizers had been assured months ago by Louisville & Indiana Railroad that trains would not run during the event. But a supervisor apparently thought he could get this particular train through the area before the 7:30 a.m. start.

The Republic reports that the train appeared in the path of the runners about 20 minutes after the race began. Apparently, the train stopped because of the presence of so many runners.

Race organizer Andy Pajakowski told the Republic that as he tried to negotiate with railroad personnel on site, the conductor blew the horn and the train started moving forward.

But it was still too dangerous to proceed, so the train was stopped again, and many runners seized the opportunity.

Police tried to hold them back, but many found their way through or around the mechanical obstacle, despite shouts by the conductor that the train has the right of way, and to stay back.

“I was yelling at people to stop, but no one was listening,” Melissa Burgin, a competitor from New York, told the Republic. “It was dangerous; the conductor was still trying to move. Shows how runners are stubborn.”

Thankfully, there were no injuries reported, and a spokesman for the railroad assured that nothing like this would happen again.

“Over, under or around?” became the joke theme of an event that’s supposed to be a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

Organizers said that’s still the case, but acknowledged that some competitors experienced delays ranging from several seconds to 1 to 3 minutes.

Said Craig Dinsmore, a runner from Columbus: “I’m really frustrated. That was a close call.”

–Hat tip to Runners World

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Video shows hikers hit by Mt. Ontake ash cloud

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 12:29 PM PDT

Mt. Ontake

Mt. Ontake erupts, sending a huge ash cloud down on hikers scrambling to get down the mountain. Photo is a screen grab from Kuroda Terutoshi’s video

Japanese hiker Kuroda Terutoshi captured dramatic video of the moments just after Mt. Ontake erupted Saturday in a volcanic disaster that reportedly killed at least 36 and injured another 63, according to ABC News.

Terutoshi posted a vertical video showing a huge ash cloud that would soon envelop him and other hikers as they scrambled down Mt. Ontake, a popular Japanese hiking destination 130 miles west of Tokyo.

Terutoshi’s original video, which has generated 7.1 million views on YouTube, was reworked into this widescreen version:

CNN reported that there were 200 to 250 hikers in the area at the time of the eruption with most of them managing to make the long trek off the mountain.

“It was like thunder,” a woman who runs a lodge near the 10,120-foot summit of Mt. Ontake told NHK of Japan, according to the BBC. “I heard, boom, boom, then everything went dark.”

Another climber told the BBC she barely escaped with her life.

“Immediately after I watched the eruption, I rushed away, but I was soon covered with ash,” the climber said.

More than 350 rescue workers began climbing two separate routes up the mountain Sunday. Here’s more from CNN:

Among the climbers trapped in the cottages, at least 11 were injured, officials in Otaki said. They said they had observed 17 to 20 inches of volcanic ash covering the ground in some areas.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has raised the Volcanic Alert Level for Ontake from 1 to 3. That means the public is advised to not approach the volcano, the summit of which is at an altitude of 10,060 feet (3,067 meters).

The agency warned that another large eruption could take place in the next six days or so. Small continuous eruptions continued Sunday.

The volcano’s plume of smoke and ash was reported to have disrupted air travel in Japan, causing delays at several airports.

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Was SUP paddler too close to blue whale?

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 11:49 AM PDT

paddler too close to blue whale

Rich German enjoying close encounter with blue whale; video screen grab

A standup paddler has captured incredible footage of his close encounter with an endangered blue whale off Laguna Beach, California.

At times, Rich German seems only a few feet from the majestic creature, and his underwater shots reveal beautiful closeups of the mammal’s face, body, and fluke.

It must have been a surreal experience; one the SUP paddler is likely to remember for the rest of his life.

But it might also inspire others to venture out on their SUP boards and give this a try—and that’s where this situation gets sticky.

blue whale

Blue whale as seen up-close from underwater; video screen grab

Federal authorities are looking into whether German might have violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act by repeatedly pursuing the mammal on his SUP board—an increasingly troubling occurrence throughout California.

“Irresponsible human behavior can disturb animals, destroy important habitats, and even result in injury to animals and people,” said Monica DeAngeles, a marine mammal specialist with NMFS.

NMFS also is trying to confirm whether German was the SUP paddler videotaped capturing his footage by the crew of a Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari vessel on September 17 off Laguna Beach.

Captain Dave’s video (second video posted below) reveals an entirely different scene. A crewman can be heard on a loud speaker informing the SUP paddler that he was breaking the law by harassing the small blue whale. The SUP paddler and a kayaker, who ignore the crewman’s pleas, can be seen frantically trying to keep up with a juvenile blue whale, which measured 50 to 60 feet.

Captain Dave’s boat can be seen in the background in German’s footage and in the video screen grab atop this post.

Why is this a big deal? Because blue whales are endangered; there are only about 10,000 worldwide. Those presently off California are feeding before migrating south to their calving and nursing grounds.

paddler too close to blue whale

SUP paddler and kayaker close to a blue whale, as seen from a nearby whale-watching boat; video screen grab

Also, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, enacted to allow all marine mammal species to recover, defines harassment as any type of behavior that causes a mammal to change its behavior. This could be as subtle as causing an animal to alter its course.

“The Marine Mammal Protection Act does not provide for a permit or other authorization to view or interact with wild marine mammals, except for specific listed purposes,” DeAngelis said. “Therefore, interacting with wild marine mammals should not be attempted and viewing marine mammals must be conducted in a manner that does not harass the animals.”

NMFS guidelines suggest that people aboard any type of vessel, whenever possible, remain at least 100 yards away from whales and other mammals.

German, meanwhile, has used Captain Dave’s Facebook page to defend himself against critics accusing the paddler of harassment.

“To me these are sacred animals with great wisdom to share,” German stated. “I have an actual connection with these animals. I am the last person in the world who would ever ‘harass’ them as I am being accused.

“I share my footage because people all around the world love them also. Most people will never in their lives have the opportunity to experience what I am blessed to experience on a daily basis. Anyone who knows me and what is really going on out on the ocean knows I am completely harmless.”

German also accused Captain Daves, as well as other whale-watching companies and private boaters, as being hypocritical, stating that he often sees boats of all sizes surrounding marine life.

“I find it very hypocritical that a whale watching company is giving me a hard time,” German continued. “They are the ones approaching and surrounding marine life … on 50-100 foot boats with loud engines, PA systems, and hundreds of noisy customers.

“I am out there on a small board doing it out of pure love and to spread awareness about our most sacred beings. While I am sure the operators do care for the animals, they are out there to make a profit.”

While German seems to make a few strong points, commercial whale-watching crews are not scrambling to stay almost directly on top of whales. They would not be in business very long if the opposite were true.

NMFS, meanwhile, is concerned about the message German’s video sends: that it’s ok to paddle directly alongside powerful animals while they’re trying to feed.

“NMFS takes all of these reports very seriously,” DeAngelis said. “NMFS does not support, condone, approve, or authorize activities that involve closely approaching, interacting, or attempting to interact with whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, or sea lions in the wild. This includes attempting to swim with, pet, touch, or elicit a reaction from the animals.”

–Find Pete Thomas on Facebook and Twitter

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Flights to Los Cabos will resume October 8

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 08:12 PM PDT

IMG_7661

Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas before Hurricane Odile; photo by ©Pete Thomas

Major airlines have begun accepting reservations for commercial flights to and from Los Cabos International Airport (SJD), beginning October 8.

Unofficially, flights could resume even sooner (some are saying so, perhaps hopefully, in private).

CaboSolmar

Image courtesy of Solmar Resorts

The airport, on the outskirts of San Jose del Cabo, sustained significant damage when Hurricane Odile came ashore in the state of Baja California Sur on September 14-15.

The storm hit Cabo San Lucas, at Baja’s tip, the hardest.

Alaska Airlines on Friday at 7 p.m. updated its website to reflect that it would resume flying one daily roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Los Cabos beginning October 8.

I  looked into this and was provided the option of booking a 10:10 a.m. flight into SJD for $179 (one-way).

The United Airlines website also is accepting flights beginning October 8. Presumably, other airlines have followed or will follow suit.

Major airlines had implied that they would not resume flights until the end of October. Some insiders, however, have suggested that this was a ploy to negotiate cheaper landing fees at SJD.

Regardless, this is a major step toward recovery. Many hotels are still closed, but reopenings are expected to occur between mid-October and the end of November. October and November are peak months for tourism throughout BCS.

Cabo Living Magazine reported Friday on its Facebook page that of the 59 Baja California Sur hotels overseen by the tourism agency Fonatur, 55 sustained hurricane damage, with 5,474 rooms affected.

Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu said power has been restored to nearly 100% of the northern part of the state, 80% in Los Cabos, 98% in La Paz, 70% in Mulegé, 75% in Comondú and 95% in Loreto.

More than 70% of gas stations in BCS are back in operation.

–Image is courtesy of Solmar Resorts

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Red Bull Rampage freeriders go off 76-foot cliff

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 02:58 PM PDT

Andreu Lacondeguy - Action

Red Bull Rampage rider Andreu Lacondeguy jumps off 76-foot cliff after Graham Agassiz succeeded before him. Photo: © John Gibson/Red Bull Content Pool

Riders competing at the Red Bull Rampage mountain bike freeride event are known for pushing the limits. Graham Agassiz and Andreu Lacondeguy pretty much proved that Thursday in practice when they both rode off a 76-foot cliff.

First, the riders checked out the drop, looking over the cliff. Then they checked the wind. “There’s a little headwind,” Lacondeguy reported to Agassiz after dropping a handful of dirt to measure the wind direction.

And then they did what Red Bull Rampage riders do. They went for it.

Agassiz flew off the cliff first, followed later by Lacondeguy. Watch Red Bull Rampage video footage of the incredible drop:

After Agassiz, a mountain bike freerider from Kamloops, Canada, nailed the landing, the jump was measured from takeoff point to his landing spot.

“Aggy is crazy,” said Lacondeguy, a freerider from Barcelona, Spain.

Red Bull Rampage rider  Graham Agassiz rides off 76-foot cliff. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Red Bull Rampage rider Graham Agassiz rides off 76-foot cliff. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Then that also makes Lacondeguy crazy. Because soon after, he was making the same attempt, though after taking at least a dozen dry runs at the drop before committing.

Red Bull Rampage 2014 is scheduled for Sunday in Virgin, Utah.

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Is the Iceland Worm Monster real?

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 11:39 AM PDT

Video footage of the Iceland Worm Monster, a mysterious serpentine creature along the lines of Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster, has been authenticated by a panel of experts convened to determine whether the film shot in 2012 is real.

After two years of controversy, the 13-person panel in Iceland narrowly voted (seven in favor) to authentic the film, entitling amateur videographer Hjörtur Kjerúlf to a small reward, according to Slate, which has a video report above.

Not surprisingly, the critics are still calling it a hoax, saying the ruling was merely a ploy to increase tourism.

Iceland Worm Monster allegedly swimming against current of a glacial river. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Iceland Worm Monster allegedly swimming against current of a glacial river. Photo is a screen grab from the YouTube video

In 2012, Kjerúlf captured video of what looks like a huge snakelike creature weaving its way upriver against the current of a glacial river that feeds Lagarfljót, a freshwater lake in east Iceland. Critics called it a hoax.

At the time, Kjerúlf never claimed it to be the Iceland Worm Monster or the Lagarfljót Worm, but he was adamant about it being real.

“This is absolutely not a hoax by me; that is ridiculous,” he told IceNews: News from the Nordics. “This is no joke.”

He explained that he was looking out his kitchen window having coffee when he spotted the monster in the river and decided to take video of it, thus reigniting the debate over whether the Iceland Worm Monster exists or not.

Scandinavian investigator Miisa McKeown of Finland told Discovery News at the time that it is merely an optical illusion, that an object is stationary in the water and only appears to be moving up stream but is not.

Iceland Worm Monster was first sighted in 1345. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Iceland Worm Monster was first sighted in 1345. Photo is a screen grab from the YouTube video

Some suspected it was an ice-caked fishing net or a large piece of cloth stuck on a submerged branch or rock.

Loren Coleman, director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, told the U.K. MailOnline that he believes it is an elaborate hoax based on the suspicious robotic look of the creature in the film.

“The traditional sightings of this lake’s ‘monster’—going back to 1345—are not snakelike,” Coleman said. “Instead, they describe Lagarfljótsormurinn as having a hump, a long neck, and whiskers, more like a long-necked waterhorse than a giant snake.”

The Iceland Worm Monster—also referred to as Lagarfljótsormurinn, Lagarfljótsormur, and the Lagarfljót Worm—is said to be as long as 300 feet and said to live in Lagarfljót where it’s been sighted raising its back above the water.

The first mention of the Iceland Worm Monster was in 1345. Sightings were considered a precursor of a coming natural disaster.

Author Jón Árnason gave rise to the Iceland Worm Monster in a collection of Icelandic folktales in 1862 and 1864.

Before the 2012 video, other modern sightings of the Lagarfljót Worm were said to have occurred in 1963, 1983, and 1998.

Stephen Archos Sveinsson, chairman of the sannleiksnefndar Lagarfljót Serpent “truth commission,” said the project was difficult, but ultimately the majority of the panel concluded there was “no reason to doubt Lagarfljót Serpent.”

What do you think?

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Angler jumps in, lands shark with a bear hug

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Angler jumps in, lands shark with a bear hug

Angler jumps in, lands shark with a bear hug; video screen grab

Landing a large shark from a rock jetty is challenging, but recently in Florida an angler decided that the easiest way to land the 5-foot shark he had hooked was to jump in and carry the predator to shore.

The accompanying footage shows the angler, who presumably had passed his rod to a friend, swimming from the line to the shark, and placing the shark in a bear hug.

This was not a staged incident, stated Greg Pace, who videotaped the catch, in the comments section on his YouTube channel.

“It was a blacktip shark and he threw it back after unhooking it from the beach,” Pace wrote. “I saw him put the large ladyfish on [as bait] and freeline it for 15 minutes until the shark ate it.  I had never seen anything like it. ”

It’s worth stating prominently what many might be thinking: This was not an act of bravado, but one of misguided carelessness. The angler could have been seriously injured, or worse.

Angler jumps in, lands shark with a bear hug

Hooked blacktip shark is circled in red; video screen grab

A hooked shark is perhaps more dangerous to a nearby swimmer than a free-swimming shark.

Many will recall an incident earlier this summer off Manhattan Beach, California, involving a juvenile great white shark that bit a swimmer as it was struggling at the end of an angler’s line.

The angler had baited the white shark from a pier, and the distance swimmer just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That incident occurred after years of white shark sightings from the pier, often near swimmers and surfers, with no attacks.

Fortunately for the swimmer in the accompanying video, the shark seemed too exhausted to mount any further struggle.

States a blogger for Shark Attack News: “I would say don’t ever try this yourself but then, does this really need to be said? Thankfully, no one got hurt … this time. But one should keep in mind that blacktips have been responsible for many bites in Florida.”

The catch was made in Jupiter Inlet. Pace, the video uploader, had not replied to a request for more details at the time of this post.

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GrindTV.com - Outdoor Blog


Johannes Pistrol takes on the Steinerne Rinne

Posted: 25 Sep 2014 01:11 PM PDT

Johannes Pistrol

Johannes Pistrol finding the going to be more than a little precarious; video screen grab

Challenges come in many forms for mountain bikers. Some prefer speed, others jumps, and still others technical routes that seem impossible to safely negotiate.

Johannes Pistrol falls into the latter category, and the latest video featuring Pistrol–“Wilder Kaiser extreme”–shows him attempting a descent that most other riders would not dare try.

The almost indiscernible route is a rocky and dauntingly steep portion of the Steinerne Rinne in Austria, and viewers can see why Pistrol’s descent is slow and methodical (more trials than Alpine): A fall on any portion of the route, especially the lower portion, could be disastrous.

Singletracks describes Pistrol’s riding as “the most technical mountain biking you may ever witness.”

Dirt reports, “We love a technical challenge, but this thing in Austria looks to be one step too far. … There’s no doubt about it, you could quite easily die trying to ride this track.”

Johannes Pistrol

Johannes Pistrol on the steeper portion of the Steinerne Rinne; video screen grab

What’s remarkable is that Pistrol, who previously was featured in a video titled “Man without nerves,” makes the descent look relatively easy.

States Vimeo user Big Col, in the video description: “The upper section from the summit down to the upper Rinne is relatively straightforward, albeit slightly exposed. The lower section contains the hardest and the most futuristic riding. Johannes didn’t clear all sections but this attempt is the most I have seen ridden so far.”

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Boaters wrangle with enormous anaconda

Posted: 25 Sep 2014 10:08 AM PDT

Anaconda.jpeg

Boater grabs massive anaconda by the tail; video screen grab

The anaconda is the largest snake in the world, and that seems to be what three Brazilians in a boat wrangled with recently along a riverbank, in a chaotic scene that has gone viral on the Internet.

(Note: Some of the Portuguese in the footage might not be rated PG.)

Anacondas can reach lengths of 30 feet, and weigh more than 500 pounds. They’re known to prey on large animals, such as crocodiles, jaguars, and deer, and the snakes have been implicated in attacks on humans. They kill their prey by squeezing it to death, and swallow it whole.

So why were the two men on the boat intent on hand-capturing this enormous reptile—one of them, at one point, grabs the beast by the tail—despite frantic protests by the woman?

anaconda

Anaconda tries to flee into the forest and ultimately succeeds; video screen grab

That’s not clear, but according to reports the anaconda finally escaped into the forest, and the boaters were fined for harassing the snake after wardens reviewed the footage and identified the boaters. (The incident occurred on the Santa Maria river in southwestern Brazil.)

What’s also clear is that people could not get enough of the footage. Since the video was uploaded to YouTube last week by ViralVidsTv, it has garnered more than 10 million views.

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Get fit with the hamster wheel desk

Posted: 25 Sep 2014 09:26 AM PDT

We all know that sitting is bad for us—like really, really bad for us. It’s so bad, in fact, that some argue that even a healthy exercise regimen can’t undo the damage you endure by sitting at your desk all day.

This may be why artist Robb Godshaw’s new hamster wheel desk, whose design instructions were recently published on the techy forum Instructables.com, may be the answer to all our sitting-related problems.

“You are not reaching your current productivity potential. Numerous esteemed experts agree that standing is better than sitting and that walking is better than standing,” Godshaw writes. “Despite this, your workplace only provides inhumane chairs and stagnant standing desks for you to use while you struggle to get through a workday full of distractions and bodily pains.”

Check out a timelapse of how the hamster wheel desk was put together below.

And if this thing doesn’t make you at least get up from your desk and stretch this very second, we don’t know what will.

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GrindTV.com - Outdoor Blog


Stunning photos taken of secret lava cave

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 03:26 PM PDT

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

A nature photographer has captured spectacular images of a lava cave network that was formed 8,000 years ago and stretches 2.4 miles beneath the state of Washington in some secret location only known to cave explorers.

This isn’t your average cave. It has no stalactites or stalagmites. No flowstones, no soda straws, no helictites. Instead, the lava cave features tubes that used to flow with lava but are now hollow openings of rock formations with a kaleidoscope of colors.

Josh Hydeman, based in Portland, Oregon, took the photos last week while exploring the lava cave with Eric Guth, Garry Petrie, and Jason George.

“I have a rather large appreciation for the beauty found in the natural world; especially caves,” Hydeman told GrindTV Outdoor in an email. “This particular cave is very beautiful due to certain features; the lavafalls (essentially lava-rock falls that look like waterfalls), the original flow lines (flow lines that are indicative of where the lava lines were draining the tubes), and the outrageous color of the lava rock (ranging from purple and red to yellow and orange).

“Not all lava tubes are created equals and this one is very special.”

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

Hydeman, 33, explained to Caters News Agency that many cave locations on the West Coast are kept secret and are found only by word of mouth through a “grotto,” or a caving club.

This lava cave is 325 feet below the surface and was first mapped in 1993.

“It’s a very unique lava cave as most are one level or one tube, but this is five,” Hydeman told Caters.

“And it’s colorful with bright enough lights. At points in the cave there are water drips, season streams, seasonal waterfalls and things like that. The temperature is in the 50s.”

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

One story about how the lava cave was first located involved the children of loggers. They climbed down a rope and dropped to the bottom of the first lava falls 40-feet deep. To get out, they had to build a pile of rocks to climb close enough to grab the rope. One of them was strong enough to climb out and summon help.

The parents rescued the other children and, being loggers with access to dynamite, promptly destroyed the opening.

“They placed explosives and brought the entrance down and it was how the original cavers found it—a sink with a headwall on the south end and a pile of lava boulders at the bottom,” Hydeman told Caters.

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

The lava cave isn’t for amateurs. It poses certain dangers.

“There are places you need to climb on rock which is unstable and there are many pits you need to navigate using technical rope work where an inexperienced explorer could most certainly kill themselves,” Hydeman explained.

Fortunately, we don’t have to explore them. We can look at the photos.

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

 

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

 

Hidden underground caves

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

 

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

Lava cave photo by Josh Hydeman/Caters News

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Russian cyclist cheats death—twice

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 03:02 PM PDT

Russian cyclist cheats death—twice

Russian cyclist finds himself in a bit of a spot; video screen grab

Cats supposedly have nine lives. It’s unclear how many people have, but a Russian cyclist used two of his lives in a mere instant recently while trying to cross a street in Moscow’s Lyubertsy district.

The accompanying footage shows the cyclist attempting to ride slowly across the street when a large truck and red car enter the intersection from different streets at the same time.

The cyclist is aware of the truck, but not of the fast-approaching red Mazda, about to spoil a perfectly peaceful crossing.

The truck swerves and hits the back of the Mazda, spinning its rear end into the direction of the cyclist, who is almost struck first by the Mazda, then by the truck as it begins to roll over.

The cyclist could easily have been killed by either vehicle, yet somehow escaped the collision and was merely knocked over.

Though dazed, the cyclist was able to rise to his feet and even rush over to help the driver of the truck.

Remarkably, according to reports, nobody was seriously injured.

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Manatee comforts distressed dog

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 12:25 PM PDT

manatee comforts distressed dog

Manatee comforts distressed dog; photo courtesy Tampa Police Department’s Facebook page

Human beings can take a lesson in kindness from the animal kingdom after a manatee was photographed in Florida standing guard over a dog who needed rescuing from the Hillsborough River in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood.

the pup being rescued

The pup being rescued; photo courtesy Tampa Police Department’s Facebook page

The photograph, which was snapped by Officer Jodie Maxim, is currently making the Internet rounds, and it was originally published on the Tampa Police Department’s Facebook page.

“Animals always seem to ‘get it,’ even when humans don’t,” reads one comment on the Facebook page.

Randy Lopez, 30, who works in the Tampa Police Department’s Marine Patrol Unit, told ABC News that the manatee was likely drawn to the dog because of the commotion it was making as it clung to a concrete wall in the river, unable to free itself.

But Lopez also suggested that there could have been other, more altruistic, reasons for the encounter.

“They’re curious by nature, so I’m sure the sound of the dog splashing in the water trying to get up the sea wall got his attention and he came over to investigate, maybe calm the dog and tell him it was going to be alright,” Lopez told ABC News.

Fortunately, the dog was safely returned to its owners.

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Frogs are enthralled by video of nightcrawlers

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 12:09 PM PDT

frogs

Frogs enjoy watching video of nightcrawlers on a phone. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Joe Myers, known as Nature Joe, used his phone to videotape a couple of big, wiggly nightcrawlers and then set up the phone inside an enclosure he calls a Froggatorium that houses a large number of northern leopard frogs.

When he hit play, the wiggly nightcrawlers in the video instantly got the attention of the frogs with comical results.

He originally posted the video on Facebook, saying, “This is interesting! I think I found their favorite channel.” Indeed he did:

As you can see, the frogs are enthralled by the video of their favorite meal.

Myers, a nature photographer located in St. Augustine, Florida, needed to put a piece of glass in front of the phone to prevent the frogs from changing the channel.

He eventually fed them real nightcrawlers.

“I have had most of these frogs since 2010, and they live in a large outdoor cage,” Myers told Jukin Media. “In the summertime I pack them all up and take them to camp (in Pennsylvania) with me, and there they live in a similar cage where groups of people stop by the nature center and feed them big juicy nightcrawlers almost on a daily basis.

“At night there are lights in there with the frogs so that many different kinds of insects come to the lights, which gives them a rounded diet.

“All the frogs are quite tame.”

And quite entertaining to watch when they’re watching their favorite channel on a phone.

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Swan attacks as rescuer attempts to free baby

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 11:11 AM PDT

Swan attacks a rescuer trying to free a baby swan stuck in a chain-link fence. Photo from Caters News Agency

Swan attacks a rescuer trying to free a baby swan stuck in a chain-link fence. Photo from Caters News Agency

A wildlife expert called in to rescue a baby swan stuck in a chain-link fence on the banks of the River Thames found himself being attacked by the protective father, who throws a pretty good left wing.

Simon Cowell, who runs Surrey-based Wildlife Aid Foundation in the U.K. and who often videotapes his animal rescues, was called to the scene where a swan family was concerned for the young swan, called a cygnet, that attempted to go through a fence and got caught, according to Caters News Agency.

As Cowell approached the scene, he essentially predicted the outcome, joking, “This is where we like to get attacked.”

The father swan, also known as a cob, was the attacker. Wildlife Aid posted the story:

As Cowell attempted to push the cygnet back through the fence to freedom, the cob punched him with his left wing.

“Don’t do that,” Cowell said. “Don’t be silly. Stop it.”

Rescuer pushes baby swan back through fence to free it. Photo from Caters News Agency

Rescuer pushes baby swan back through fence to free it. Photo from Caters News Agency

Happily, Cowell managed to free the baby swan and release it into the water to join its family.

“They’re all together again,” he said. “They’re all happy, and I’ve got a bruised arm.”

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Wings of the Atlas moth are snake-like

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 09:48 AM PDT

Atlas moth

Atlas moth displays wing tip that resembles the head of a cobra; photo by Brian Bevan/Ardea/Caters News

One of the world’s largest moths might also be the scariest … at least in appearance.

Brian Bevan recently returned from an expedition to Southeast Asia, where he photographed the rare Atlas moth, a strikingly colorful critter whose masterful disguise includes wing tips that resemble the curved heads of cobras, complete with menacing eyes.

The cobra, of course, is one of the world’s deadliest snakes, so the giant moth has evolved quite nicely in a tropical forest habitat in which one is either predator or prey—or both.

Atlas moth

The Atlas moth’s wingspan can measure 12 inches; photo by Brian Bevan/Ardea/Caters News

“The wing tips do really resemble that of a snake’s head,” Bevan, 64, a U.K. wildlife photographer, told Caters News. “It was extremely impressive to look at up close, and it looked the size of a bird when it flew.”

The Atlas moth’s wingspan can measure 12 inches, and its surface area can measure about 60 square inches. It’s believed to be the world’s largest moth, but its size is rivaled by that of the giant silkworm moth.

Giant Moth Resembles Cobra

Wing tip of an Atlas moth compared to the curved head of a cobra; photo by Caters News

In China, the Cantonese name at the Atlas moth is “snake’s-head moth.” But the Atlas moth does not stop at mere camouflage as a means of defense: When threatened it will drop to the forest floor and fan its wings to make them resemble cobra’s heads, weaving back and forth.

In Taiwan, the silky cocoons of Atlas moths are fashioned into coin purses, used as is, requiring only a zipper.

Also worth noting is that this moth, despite its enormity, could inflict little or no damage to closet linens, were it ever to find its way into a closet.

Adult Atlas moths have no mouths; they subsist on fat storage from their caterpillar stages.

And despite possessing such a clever means of defense, adult Atlas moths live only about two weeks.

States one nature website: “The adults quickly mate, lay eggs, and die shortly thereafter.”

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An outdoor lover’s guide to Knoxville

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 03:00 AM PDT

Knoxville

Other than its tight-knit community, easy access to rivers is one of the reasons outdoorsy folks love Knoxville. Photo courtesy Shutterstock

It’s got nature, it’s got culture, it’s got music, it’s got food—it’s even got a couple of breweries. But there’s one more thing Knoxville, Tennessee’s got that makes it stand out among the nation’s leading outdoor sports towns. It’s got community.

Nourish your soul as you feed your passions K-town style.

knoxville

Go on a guided fall hike with volunteers at the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Courtesy Friends of the Smokies

Bike. Build local bike trails and grab a pint with the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club. The AMBC is a nonprofit that teaches sustainable trail access for mountain bikers, and they practice what they preach. Knoxville has a dozen trail parks making up over 60 miles of singletrack, doubletrack, and all-purpose trails or old roadbeds, and almost every mile has been made and maintained by the volunteers at AMBC.

Knoxville

Because local food tastes better, and it’s better for you. Photo courtesy Beardsley Community Farm

Keeping the trails clean and useable is bigger than just AMBC. They’ve teamed up with local nature center Ijams, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency with the City and County of Knoxville, to create the 1,000-acre Urban Wilderness Corridor. When completed, the corridor will connect ten parks and make up forty miles of recreational trails and four civil war sites.

Farm and eat organic local food. The best food comes from the ground you worked on.

Started in 1998, Beardsley Community Farm is a farm just five minutes from downtown Knoxville. With volunteers and organizers working on the farm, Beardsley acts as a demonstration site to educate and promote sustainable urban agriculture. Beardsley donates all the food produced to local organizations that help those in need. You can learn anything from how to raise ducks to how to plant chard, and even how to collect honey. Volunteer to learn for free or sign up for a class.

Knoxville

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park; photo courtesy Shutterstock

Take a hike. Since it began in 1993, Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been helping the National Park Service preserve and protect the country’s most visited park. With the help of volunteers, the organization raises funds and public awareness and works on needed maintenance and development projects.

You can volunteer for phone drives and other fundraisers, lead guided hikes and talk about the flora and fauna, and work on the trails. The best part of volunteering might be the hikes you can take in the park once you’re done with the day.

Knoxville

CHOTA regularly cleans up the Tellico River, and Knoxville residents can easily join. Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Hit the water. So many flat and whitewater rivers in the area mean a lot of impassioned volunteers and organizers of river cleanups. Knoxville is home to both CHOTA and East Tennessee Whitewater clubs, where people can meet up and swap paddling adventure stories, tips, river beta, and gear. People can also get on the local forum and Facebook page to figure out when to meet for paddling or to clean up the river. CHOTA regularly cleans up the Tellico River, the Tennessee River, and the Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Enjoy First Friday Culture. Every first Friday of the month, Knoxville’s downtown and historic center streets turn into a major art show. Art galleries, cafes and restaurants display new art exhibitions along with eclectic food and wine and beer. Don’t be surprised to find street performers, acrobats, and musicians putting on shows between stops. If you think your art competes with the ones you see, sign up to have your art displayed at a number of the locations hosting local art.

Get there: Knoxville is three hours east of Nashville, Tennessee and north of Atlanta, Georgia on I-40.

Stay there: Go bare minimum at the Knoxville hostel in Old North Knoxville or high-scale the historic Oliver Hotel downtown, plus everything in between.

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Felix Starck takes worldwide journey by bike

Posted: 23 Sep 2014 04:32 PM PDT

Felix Starck on his 365-day, 11,185-mile worldwide journey. Photo is from his Pedal the World Facebook page

Felix Starck on his 365-day, 11,185-mile worldwide journey. Photo is from his Pedal the World Facebook page

In June 2013, Felix Starck gave up the perfect life and set out on a bike for a worldwide journey in a quest to answer the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

“That’s the question almost every man asks himself at least once in his life, which is why I decided to go to the bottom of this mystery and to seek answers,” he wrote on his Pedal the World Facebook page.

“My first goal is to explore the world on a bicycle! This is not a record hunt—the journey is the destination.”

The 24-year-old German spent the next 365 days pedaling 11,185 miles in 22 countries on four continents before arriving back home in Herxheim, Germany, with tons of video footage of his journey.

Starck took three months to edit the footage, which he has turned into an hour-long documentary that he is selling for $25 USD. He’s donating a portion of the proceeds to the World Wildlife Foundation.

Based on the trailer released Sunday, Pedal the World ought to be pretty good. Take a look:

According to Huffington Post Travel and Mashable, Starck was robbed by the police in Cambodia, was nearly run off the road by tired truckers, had his travel partner quit on him, overcame pneumonia, and learned that his grandfather died while he was gone. But he credited “the daily kindness of strangers everywhere in this world” for keeping him going.

“I learned more during my trip than in my 14 years of school,” he told Huffington Post Travel. “Traveling the world and getting to know new cultures and people taught me things that are impossible to learn in school. During my trip I had to use things like economy, sociology, geography and more. Travel isn’t a recognized institution like a university, but it will teach you much more.”

Felix Starck in Miami on his Pedal the World journey. Photo is from his Pedal the World Facebook page

Felix Starck in Miami on his Pedal the World journey. Photo is from his Pedal the World Facebook page

Starck said he originally wanted to be on the road for two years, but learned after a few days on the road that planning a trip like that would be “absolute nonsense.” So he kept it to one year and didn’t do a whole lot of planning.

“Strangely, you feel much more relaxed if you don’t know where you will be in the coming days!” he told Huffington Post. “Of course you need a direction in which to go, but I just went where I felt like it, and if I liked it, I stayed for a while. The journey is the reward.”

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Mysterious cloud on radar is only butterflies

Posted: 23 Sep 2014 01:45 PM PDT

Butterfly1

Cloud-like formation on NWS weather radar turns out to be migrating butterflies; image via NWS

Folks at the National Weather Service were mystified recently when a bizarre cloud formation appeared on the radar over southern Illinois and central Missouri.

The cloud-like object was moving erratically across the landscape, and changing shapes along the way.

It didn’t take long to realize, however, that this wasn’t a cloud at all.

Butterfly

Monarch butterflies are known for their long, mass migrations; photo via Wikipedia

Reads a statement on the U.S. National Weather Service Saint Louis Missouri Facebook page: “High differential reflectively values as well as low correlation coefficient values indicate these are most likely biological targets.”

Translation: They were critters of some sort.

Finally, it was determined that this large, mysterious cloud could be only one thing: Monarch butterflies on their southbound migration.

Butterfly2

Massive flutter of migrating butterflies is shaped somewhat like a butterfly; image via NWS

The flock, or flutter, was so immense that it was detected by weather instruments.

The Facebook post concludes:

“A Monarch in flight would look oblate to the radar, and flapping wings would account for the changing shape!

“NWS St. Louis wishes good luck and a safe journey to these amazing little creatures on their long journey south!”

The images themselves almost look butterfly-shaped.

Monarch butterflies are famous for the brilliant coloration and long migrations, which in some cases can span 3,000 miles and involve millions of butterflies.

The insects embark on these marathon southbound adventures in early fall in order to reach their southern destinations before the onset of deadly winter weather.

Unfortunately, Monarch butterflies are in steep decline in many areas, largely because of habitat loss.

Earlier this summer, a massive swarm of mayflies over Wisconsin appeared as rain on weather radar.

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Leopard flies out of tree to nab young antelope

Posted: 23 Sep 2014 11:11 AM PDT

Leopard is spotted high in a tree where it pounced on its unsuspecting prey below. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Leopard is spotted high in a tree where it pounced on its unsuspecting prey below. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Leopards are known for climbing trees, and they possess amazing strength that allows them to carry the prey they kill into the tree branches to eat in peace without having to share or fight off other predators. Sometimes they even use trees to hunt unsuspecting antelopes that just happen by.

Watch what happened in a national park in Zambia when a safari tour stopped after noticing four antelopes eating under a tree. A leopard can be spotted at the very start of the video high up in the branches (the real action begins at the 2:25 mark when something alerts the antelopes, one of which runs off):

“That thing can fly from where he’s at right there,” a guide tells the tourists at the start of the video provided by 100100 Channel, which posts wildlife videos from African safari clients.

Antelopes feed under a tree inhabited by a leopard. Photo is a screen grab from the video

Antelopes feed under a tree inhabited by a leopard. Photo is a screen grab from the video

As you can see, the leopard proved the guide correct, quietly and quickly flying down from the tree limb, after waiting 10 minutes, and pouncing on the unsuspecting antelope, clearly the youngster of the group.

At the end, the video is also shown in slow motion, and even then you can barely make out the leopard’s leap.

The other antelopes hightail it to safer ground. Unfortunately, the young one didn’t get the memo.

“Wow,” says a tourist. “That is unbelievable.”

Simply put, it’s nature in action.

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Cabo San Lucas recovery effort on fast track

Posted: 23 Sep 2014 10:57 AM PDT

Odile4.jpeg

Damage on the main street in Cabo San Lucas after Hurricane Odile raged across region; photo via Pisces Sportfishing

Cabo San Lucas has made remarkable strides toward recovery from the overwhelming devastation caused by Hurricane Odile on September 14 to September 15.

But prospective tourists still have many questions regarding opening dates for hotels, the reopening of Los Cabos International Airport, and the restoration of power and water services.

Today we received some official government estimates, emailed by Pisces Group, that will answer many of these questions:

–Los Cabos International Airport, which received damage to both main terminals, is scheduled to reopen September 27

–Cabo San Lucas Airport (CSL) will reopen October 10*

–Power restored: 45 percent

–Water Restored: Already mostly restored, full restoration expected by midweek

–Phone service: Restored

–Internet service: Restored

–Garbage Pick-up:  Resumed

–Most hotels are scheduled to reopen from October 1 through October 15

–Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Jackpot Fishing Tournament: On as scheduled beginning October 17

* The CSL Airport reports on its Facebook page that it has been operating normally (days only) since September 17

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