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Pete Thomas
Solana Beach, California
Former Los Angeles Times outdoors reporter; now writes for this website, GrindTv.com and Yahoo homepage
Interests: Outdoor activities, reading, good food, beer and wine
Recent Activity
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv The first sightings of a Sierra Nevada red fox in nearly 100 years inside Yosemite National Park were confirmed Wednesday by park officials. The furry critter was photographed as it roamed through snow in the northern portion of the California wilderness park twice by motion-sensitive trail-cameras: the first time in mid-December, and most recently on January 4. Biologists discovered the footage during a recent backpacking expedition to check on the cameras. The Sierra Nevada red fox is one of the rarest animals in North America, with a population of only about 50 animals, so any sighting is... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Whale watchers in Monterey Bay, California, were thrilled Sunday to see a strikingly white Risso’s dolphin swimming with gray pod mates. The extraordinary sighting was made by passengers and crew aboard a Monterey Bay Whale Watch vessel. The accompanying photos were provided by naturalist Melissa Galieti, who said the young dolphin was swimming with its mother and two other cow-calf pairs. The crew was not able to determine whether the dolphin was a true albino, with pink eyes, or a partial albino (leucistic, with blue eyes), because “this little one kept coming to the surface with its... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Passengers aboard a Southern California whale-watching boat on Sunday enjoyed a magical daylong excursion that included rare sightings of gray whale megapods, traveling south toward Baja California’s lagoons. The first group contained more than 15 whales, swimming closely together. The pod, spotted at 10 a.m. between Dana Point and Santa Catalina Island, included at least three juveniles. The second megapod, consisting of at least 12 gray whales, was spotted at 2:30 p.m., also in mid-channel, and was being harassed by Risso’s dolphins, which acted like cattle dogs guiding a herd. (This type of behavior, although not unprecedented,... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Risso's dolphins (circled) interact with migrating gray whales; video screen grab By Pete Thomas A large pod of migrating gray whales was videotaped interacting with Risso’s dolphins Sunday off Dana Point. But it did not seem to be a voluntary union as far as the whales were concerned. They seemed agitated by the large, squid-eating dolphins, which were acting like sheep dogs guiding a cattle herd This type of interaction, if it occurs fairly often, is rarely observed, just as so-called “megapods” of migrating gray whales are rarely observed off the California coast. (The passengers, on an all-day trip with... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Sharing waves with strangers is not any surfer’s idea of a good time, unless the strangers happen to be dolphins. Ryan Warrington and Kyle Tatam were surfing on standup boards recently at an unnamed destination when dolphins arrived and not only rode waves with the SUP paddlers, but seemed to enjoy their human company. The feeling, undoubtedly, was mutual. “One of the most surreal days we’ve ever had in the water,” Warrington states in a description beneath the video, which is enhanced with a bit of "Jamaican Tea," via the New Black Shades, and takes viewers on... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Earlier this month a humpback whale bumped into a boat full of whale watchers off Maui, before rejoining its calf and swimming off. The event was videotaped from above and below the surface, via pole cam, and finally some of the underwater footage has become available, courtesy of Ultimate Whale Watch. Its 25-foot inflatable boat was bumped, presumably inadvertently, by the mother whale as the vessel was drifting with its engine turned off. The calf swam toward the bow of the boat before the incident. Also, a male "escort" whale was nearby, perhaps agitating and confusing the mom. The boat... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Cabo San Lucas is one of the world’s premier marlin-fishing destinations, but even so, it’s a rare day when two giant marlin are hooked on the same day, at about the same time, and battled well into the night. On Tuesday, word rapidly spread through the Mexican resort town at Baja California’s tip that town that a large marlin–perhaps a grander weighing 1,000 pounds or more–was being fought aboard the yacht, Mucho Loco. Tracy Ehrenberg, who runs Pisces Sportfishing, stated on the company blog that she received a call at 9 p.m., informing her that a large... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv When a small pod of orcas visited Southern California waters recently, boaters relished the experience because these orcas are curious about people and made several close approaches. But for Rich German, the encounter off Laguna Beach was much more intimate. German was aboard a standup paddleboard, and all that stood between him and the black-and-white predators was an oversized surfboard. The paddler, who during the summer was criticized for being too aggressive in an attempt to stay with and videotape a blue whale, was realizing a dream as the orcas swam around and sometimes beneath him. (The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Dean Reddy poses with recent giant guitarfish catch By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Dean Reddy recently reeled in a giant guitarfish estimated to weigh 89 kilograms, or 196 pounds, while fishing from shore in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. It’s remarkable considering that the world record for this species, according to the International Game Fish Assn., is a 119-pound specimen caught in 1995 in Seychelles. What’s more remarkable is that Reddy, prior to his latest catch, landed a giant guitarfish estimated to weigh 273 pounds. Both catches shatter the world record weight even if Reddy–who uses a time-tested tape-measurement formula to attain an... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Boaters on waterways in Malawi, Africa, face all sorts of potential hazards, but perhaps top among them are angry hippopotamuses. The accompanying footage shows a large hippo closing in on a speedboat with an underwater charge so swift that the massive animal creates its own wake before breaking the surface. The footage also shows the boat’s pilot powering forward and veering to avoid the charging critter. The video was posted to Facebook on Monday by Michael Varndell, managing director for Malawian Style - Safari and Adventure Holidays, with a brief description: “Nothing like getting too close for... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Whale watchers aboard a small boat off Maui watched with widening eyes recently as a humpback whale suddenly turned toward them, began to slap her large pectoral fin on the surface, and struck their inflatable boat with its head. The collision with the 25-foot vessel was more of a shove than a strike, but blunt enough enough to “toss our boat a good five feet when she hit,” said Jennifer Nap, who videotaped the unusual incident while on the trip with her husband, Ryan. About 10,000 endangered humpback whales are in Hawaiian waters for the winter breeding... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv When Eric Martin, his son Cody, and David Lantos set out from the Southern California port of Redondo Beach in a 10-foot inflatable boat on Tuesday, they never imagined that they’d soon be surrounded by killer whales. Or that the killer whales would develop a deep interest in their presence, and spend more than an hour mugging a boat so small that the Martins refer to it as “the bathtub.” (Mugging is when the mammals repeatedly swim up to a vessel.) It was as close of an encounter with orcas as can be experienced in the wild... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv I spend hours a day scouring social media sites and see all kinds of shark images, but this week two images stood out for the same reason: The sharks were free jumpers. It’s no secret that certain sharks will occasionally breach, but to capture this event with a camera is somewhat rare, unless the shark has been hooked and is trying to get free. The first image that caught my eye was that of a thresher shark leaping high above the surface beyond Cabo San Lucas at Baja California’s tip (posted at top and bottom). The image,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Todd Bergenbring with his 20-pound snapper By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Last year was marked by several peculiar catches off Southern California, thanks to unusual and persistent warm temperatures that allowed exotic species such as yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, and blue marlin to venture much farther north of their typical range. So deep into winter, however, those species have long since returned to familiar surroundings–notably, off Mexico. But spear fisherman Todd Bergenberg proved recently that not all of the exotic visitors have gone home. While plying the waters off Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County on December 29, Bergenbring speared a 20-pound... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Gray whales are being spotted in record numbers off Southern California, thanks to clear skies, a mostly calm ocean, lots of eyeballs on the water, and what appears to be an earlier migration period than normal. What also stands out, besides the numerous blows wafting skyward from thousands of whales that are headed from Arctic feeding grounds to Mexican nursing grounds, are the babies! The accompanying video footage was captured via drone by David Anderson, who runs Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safaris out of Dana Point in Orange County. It provides a bird’s-eye view of a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Mysterious and rarely observed killer whales described simply as “Type D” were documented recently in the southern Indian Ocean by a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society crew that had been pursuing what it claimed to be poachers. The orca encounter–which lasted about an hour and included wake surfing, bow riding and tail slapping–occurred on December 26 in rough seas in the harsh and remote region between the Crozet and Kergulen archipelagos (see video). In this area the mammals, which are characterized by their large bulbous foreheads, are known to eat toothfish–a type of cod marketed as Chilean seabass–after... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Wisdom, who is at least 63, incubates her egg on Midway Atoll; photo by Greg Joder By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Midway Atoll, in the middle of the Pacific, is extremely remote but steeped in history. It was the last link in a worldwide telegraph system that was launched with a message from President Theodore Roosevelt on July 4, 1903. Midway was a landing site for Pan Am Clipper ships that ferried people across the Pacific. As a Naval Air Facility, it once supported more than 5,000 residents and, of course, the small coral atoll served as headquarters for the famous 1942... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Sunny Garcia image courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maldives By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Sunny Garcia was once a dominant force in pro surfing. He won the world surfing title in 2000, and before retiring from full-time competitive surfing he claimed six Triple Crown of Surfing crowns, at his home breaks on Oahu’s North Shore. But Garcia's popularity stemmed mostly from the larger-than-life status he had achieved while on the tour. His tirades against judges became legendary. His temper often flared, and punches were occasionally thrown. Sunny Garcia, the beefy Hawaiian, was surfing’s bad boy, a powerful and colossal presence in and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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As driving rain and powerful winds began to sweep across Northern California on Thursday morning, a few hearty souls braved the elements and went surfing. On Lake Tahoe. The accompanying images were captured by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office at its North Lake Tahoe Station. While the surf may have been up, thanks to 50-mph winds, ski resort operators were hoping the temperature would drop and rain would turn to snow. As of the time of this post, snow in the Lake Tahoe area was falling only above 7,000 feet. Related articles Tiger shark, diver enjoy special reunion at Tiger... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Mark van Coller recently spent several weeks False Bay, South Africa, keeping his camera trained on a seal decoy being towed behind a shark-diving boat. His stunning footage will give viewers a taste of what it’s like to be a real seal in this region (a horrifying thought), where great white sharks are known to savagely ambush their prey while launching free of the water. Van Coller told the Daily Mail, “We filmed just before and just after sunrise, as this is the most active time for the sharks to hunt. “During this time the seals and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Cody Townsend (circled in red) descending a cavernous chute in Alaska; video screen grab By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Cody Townsend was honored Saturday at the 2014 Powder Awards for skiing what was deemed the most challenging line of the past year: a ridiculously steep and narrow tunnel-like chute in the Alaskan wilderness. The accompanying footage is provided by MSP Films, which describes Townsend's chosen route as the “Most insane ski line EVER.” Most viewers, whether they ski or not, probably will agree that it requires a high skill level and a touch of craziness to even contemplate negotiating a chute so... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Chris Zelenka poses with 671-pound blue marlin; photo courtesy of The Charter Desk By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Rather than toss his empty Gatorade bottles into the trash or recycling bin, Jeff Rogers reuses them in a most imaginative way. The fishing captain from Hawaii’s Kona Coast fashions them into big-game fishing lures, dresses them up with vinyl strips, and has found this invention—he names each lure “Gator”—to outperform many of his pricey store-bought models. That became evident Tuesday when a client with Rogers, who skippers the Aloha Kai, landed a 671-pound blue marlin while fishing with one of the Gatorade bottle... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Youth pastor hauls shark onto the beach; photo via Jeff Heglund By Pete Thomas/GrindTv News of the capture–and eventual release–of a great white shark on a North Carolina beach is circulating on the Internet, generating anger among conservationists because of the way the shark was treated. The catch was made at the Outer Banks in October by Jeff Heglund, who used the moniker "Shark Man" when he wrote about his remarkable exploit last month on the Calvary Temple Youth Group blog. Heglund’s story began to circulate after it was posted Wednesday morning on Facebook by the South Florida Shark Club,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv "Love" and "affection" are terms not commonly used to describe encounters with large sharks, but they’re used repeatedly by Jim Abernethy to narrate his recent get-together with a large tiger shark known as Tarantino. The intimate reunion at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas was videotaped and the footage shows Tarantino swimming into the arms of Abernethy and seeming to crave his caresses much like an affectionate dog craves those of its owner after a prolonged absence. As Abernethy and the shark are swept down current, he returns to the camera and Tarantino follows, again swimming into his... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Humpback whale images are courtesy of ©Carla Mitroff By Pete Thomas/GrindTv The Thanksgiving holiday weekend was stuffed with excitement, as far as Southern California whale watchers were concerned. Two types of killer whales–one from the south, the other from the north–were spotted hunting sea lions in what were considered rare sightings. But the greatest spectacle seems to have involved a juvenile humpback whale that breached 30 times, at one point launching completely out of the water, close to shore off Laguna Beach. The sequence shows the large cetacean seeming to levitate briefly before re-entry. Mitroff described the day as "one... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors