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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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When a grizzly bear approaches a bus full of tourists it can be an exciting, tense occasion. But when the approaching bear begins to roll playfully down a grassy hill, it seems, all tensions are eased and laughter erupts. The accompanying footage was captured recently in Alaska’s Denali National Park, showing a bear acting rolling lazily down the slope and even pausing briefly to play dead. It remains unclear whether the bruin was simply enjoying a carefree moment in the sun, or had recently discovered the magic berry bush. But the Denali tourists were clearly amused, and David Pangborn's video... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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A blue whale made a surprise appearance this week as BBC naturalist Mark Carwardine was telling the TV audience how challenging and frustrating it can be searching for earth’s largest creature. Carwardine was presenting for “Big Blue Live,” in Monterey Bay, and the comical scene seemed perfectly timed. “Haven’t seen a thing, and there were all sorts of reasons why, one is of course being whales,” Carwardine says. “They’re spending most of their lives underwater and out of sight so we could be going right by them and have no idea they’re there.” Carwardine continues: “It’s quite exciting in one... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Photo by ©Slater Thomas Moore By Pete Thomas The epic tuna bite continues off Southern California, thanks to a second consecutive summer featuring abnormally warm water. But besides all the tuna and marlin breezing around offshore, dorado (mahimahi) are filtering in and adding to the region’s tropical flavor, with sporadic catches being made off Orange and San Diego counties. The top image, captured by Slater Thomas Moore, shows a leaping mahimahi that was hooked off Newport Beach aboard the Thunderbird. Bull dorado caught off Dana Point aboard the Clemente; photo by Capt. Chad Steffen The photographer, who landed a 34-pound... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Killer whales are accustomed to seeing people on boats, and sometimes express mild interest in their human admirers. But they don't often see dogs, which might explain the extremely curious approach of Southern Resident killer whales Sunday after they spotted a yellow lab aboard a 22-foot boat at the San Juan Islands off Washington. The lab is Sailor, whose owners, Kate and Jaycee Butler, said they have not experienced this type of intimate encounter in 40 years of whale watching in the Pacific Northwest. The orca turning on her back to look at the people, and especially the dog, is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Hammerhead shark sightings are up for the second summer in a row off Southern California, thanks to unusually warm water that's luring semi-tropical species north of their typical range. Perhaps the most dramatic encounter of 2015 occurred late last week off Oceanside, where Capt. Ryan Gillette and friends were fishing for yellowfin tuna aboard Gillette's private boat. The accompanying footage shows the 7-foot shark speeding around the boat, obviously excited by the scent of chum and the hooked tuna, with some fun commentary by Gillette. Later in the footage, the shark bites the prop and uses its tail to splash... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Photos courtesy of ©Slater Thomas Moore By Pete Thomas Sometimes, as a photographer armed with a long lens, you can find yourself a little too close to the action. That appeared to be the case Saturday for Slater Thomas Moore, when a humpback whale suddenly emerged between two boats and slapped its tail. Moore, who was aboard one of the boats, the Ocean Explorer out of Davey’s Locker in Newport Beach, was shooting with a 100- to 400-millimeter lens and was only 20 to 30 feet away. Yet the photographer somehow managed to fit most of the tail-end of the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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A 1,368-pound blue marlin was caught Tuesday by Guy Kitaoka off Kailua-Kona on the the big island of Hawaii. It’s believed to be the largest blue marlin caught off Kona in 23 years, and falls short of the world record–a 1,376-pound blue caught off Kona in 1982–by only eight pounds. Kitaoka was fishing with Capt. Darrell Omori aboard a 21-foot boat, Dayna, in an area where large tuna were teeming. He used a skipjack tuna to bait the monster billfish, and had it alongside his boat after an hour-long fight. Capt. Bomboy Llanes, fishing nearby aboard another boat, helped deliver... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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A dorado caught off Cabo San Lucas last week was said to have weighed 102 pounds, which is 15 pounds heavier than a world record that has stood since 1976. The massive dorado–a.k.a mahi-mahi or dolphinfish–was caught by Brian Lindsey, a visitor from Mississippi, aboard Shambala, a yacht chartered through Pisces Sportfishing. The weight was obtained using a hand spring scale, and the fish was quickly filleted because the crew didn’t want the meat to spoil in the hot weather. So it cannot qualify as a record, and nobody will ever know what it might have weighed on a certified... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Many might wonder, after viewing the accompanying footage, if the world just got a whole lot scarier. Small quad-copter drones of the type that are now widely used to videotape animals, waves and landscapes, apparently can be transformed into killing machines. The "Flying Gun" footage, uploaded by YouTube user Hogwit, shows a quad-copter firing several rounds while hovering several feet off the ground, recoiling and repositioning after each shot. The description reads: “Homemade multirotor with a semiautomatic handgun mounted on it." Outdoor Hub reports that the weapon appears to be a KelTec PMR-30, and adds: “With over 30 rounds of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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When a whale blows a rainbow it’s often referred to as a “rainblow,” and they occur only when the lighting is right as a whale exhales at the surface. Rainblow photos from boats are not rare, but aerial footage of this event is somewhat rare, mostly because the widespread use of drones for whale photography is a fairly new phenomenon. The accompanying footage of a humpback whale blowing rainbows, captured off Newport Beach, was uploaded on July 6 by YouTube user MGMedia. Pay close attention at the 40-second mark, because that's when the rainblow is most vibrant. –Image is a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Close encounters with whales produce a wide array of reactions, but one man’s reaction to discovering a pod of humpback whales emerging to feed very close to his boat was much different than the typical “Wow!” response. The accompanying footage, which contains brief profanity, is undoubtedly producing lots of smiles as it begins to circulate on the Internet. Tony Flanders and Brad Rich were fishing off Seward, Alaska, when the whales began to lunge feed at the surface, their heads emerging with gaping mouths, creating quite a spectacle. For Flanders, the awesome display at such close quarters was just too... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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It's rare enough to see an oarfish, but to hook and reel in one of these deep-sea denizens from a fishing boat might be unprecedented. The bizarre catch of a 20-foot oarfish was made June 29 aboard the Fortune, a San Diego-based boat that was fishing at Santa Catalina Island. For whatever reason, the catch was not publicized. But meteorologist Chris Dunn, who writes a column called The Fishing Weatherman, reported the news on his blog. The fish was snagged and barely alive. When it was brought close to the boat, a crewman attempted to collect it with a gaff,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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A large sheet of rock is missing from the face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, and it's likely to alter climbing routes on the iconic granite monolith. According to the Associated Press, the rock fall, which occurred as recently as Monday, did not cause any injuries. There were no known witnesses to the fall. Park geologist and climber Greg Stock said the sheet measured about 100-by-200 feet, and that climbers utilize multiple routes on Half Dome's 1,000-foot face. The fall occurred on the Regular Northwest Face route, the most popular climb in Yosemite, with 23 pitches. The fall... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Tiger sharks in the Bahamas will sometimes inspect and bump camera equipment being carried by scuba divers. But one large shark took more than a passing interest recently; it clamped down on a $10,000 camera and ended up swimming off with the rig–and, for a brief period, with the diver! The accompanying footage, captured By Shawn Hull, shows the shark’s approach, the opening and closing of the mouth around the camera, and the diver being pulled beneath the shark’s belly, and finally the diver letting go, realizing he could not win this battle. There are a couple of choice and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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The pilot and co-pilot of an ultralight airplane were enjoying the view from several hundred feet above ground when they spotted a cat that must have been napping on the wing before the plane took off. The feline first appears at 38 seconds in the accompanying video. It seems to be aware of its plight, feeling the stiff breeze, sensing great height, and trying to figure its next move. The cat then crawls prominently into view of the camera, while the flight instructor and his co-pilot are still unaware that they were transporting a very frightened stowaway. Flight instructor, Romain... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Anglers and spearfishermen have logged several impressive catches of bluefin tuna and yellowtail in recent weeks off Orange County, thanks in part to the influx of millions of pelagic red crabs. But perhaps the top catch of the spring/summer season was that of a 731-pound mako shark, landed Friday off Dana Point. catch of the day! 🎣 731 pound #makoshark #danapoint congrats Kenny & friends A photo posted by parkerstrick💛 (@parkerstrick) on Jun 19, 2015 at 6:27pm PDT We’re not sure who reeled in the giant shark, but it was weighed Friday at Dana Point Fuel Dock, and the two... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Donna Kalez stands among thousands of red crabs in Laguna Beach; photo courtesy of Donna Kalez By Pete Thomas The influx of pelagic red crabs into Southern California waters, and onto area beaches, piquing the interest of beachgoers and attracting huge bluefin tuna, which have been foraging on the tiny crustaceans. The crabs’ arrival, during the past couple of weeks, has been linked to the strengthening El Nino, a warm-water phenomenon originating in the equatorial eastern Pacific. The bright red crabs, also called tuna crabs, are easy to spot, and some of the live critters, before they become stranded and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Photo courtesy of Bethany Hamilton Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm and nearly her life during a shark attack in 2003 off Kauai, is a first-time mom. The announcement by Hamilton and her husband, Adam Dirks, was made Monday via Instagram and Facebook. It reads: “Blessed to welcome our son, Tobias, into the world. Born June 1st, 7.9 lbs. and 21" Long. He is named after his great grandpa Tobias meaning "The goodness of God." Adam and I so in love with our lil guy and are stoked to share life with him!” Understandably, the posts were... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Blue whales are arriving off Southern California, searching for enormous krill patches on which to feed. It remains to be seen whether this will be a productive whale-watching season, given the unseasonably warm water in some areas, and a strengthening El Niño. But some of these great leviathans, the largest creatures to have inhabited earth, are already making their presence known off Orange County. They include a famous seasonal visitor named Delta, because the mammal’s upturned fluke ends reminds some of the tail section of a jet. Delta was spotted over the weekend off Newport Beach and Dana Point with... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Kevin Cuevas (right) poses with 200-pound yellowfin tuna; photo via Jen Wren Sportfishing Mark Rayor, who owns Jen Wren Sportfishing in the East Cape region of Baja California Sur, said Friday night that it was a bit too early to worry about Hurricane Blanca. During the day, his fleet embarked in search of tuna, and one angler landed the 200-pounder shown in the accompanying image. The tuna was caught by Kevin Cuevas of Littleton, Colo., after a 4-hour battle. “A boat near us bagged one 180lbs,” Rayor said via email. “It has been mostly dinks but once in a while... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Mexico has issued a tropical storm watch for much of Baja California Sur, including Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, as Hurricane Blanca takes aim at the peninsula. As of 2 p.m. Pacific daylight time, Blanca was 550 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, and traveling very slowly toward the northwest. The storm boasted maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. Swifter movement was expected over the next 24 hours and Blanca is expected to remain at hurricane strength (74-mph winds) into early Sunday, when it will be much closer to Baja’s tip. The storm center is not predicted to score... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Southern California anglers have logged several impressive bluefin tuna catches during the past couple of weeks, but a San Clemente spearfisherman on Wednesday subdued a massive bluefin that's likely to shatter a 33-year-old California record. Aaron Shook, while hunting tuna eight miles of Dana Point with two friends, shot and landed a 173.3-pound bluefin, which is 75 pounds heavier than the existing state record, held by legendary blue-water hunter Terry Maas. Maas shot his 98-pound tuna on June 1, 1982, at Cortes Bank, 100 miles west of Orange County. Shook's tuna was speared only eight miles offshore, and after he... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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The rare sight of two calves swimming alongside a female adult gray whale Monday off Dana Point generated speculation among some on the boat, including its captain, that the young whales might be twins. Capt. Dave Anderson, of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari, captured the accompanying footage and described the sighting as “the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen on the ocean.” It’s doubtful, however, that the calves are twins. One is noticeably larger than the other, and a more likely scenario is that one of the calves lost its mother and has been accepted by the adult female,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Hurricane Andres, the first named storm of 2015 in the Eastern Pacific, continues to churn but far from land as it weakens. But tropical storm Blanca is being watched far more closely by residents of Cabo San Lucas and elsewhere on the southern Baja California peninsula. Blanca will attain hurricane force Tuesday and, according to the National Hurricane Center, it’s projected path leads directly toward Cabo San Lucas at Baja California’s tip. Blanca will attain major hurricane force–with sustained winds of 110 mph of grater–before weakening gradually as its center reaches or possibly skirts southern Baja late Sunday or Monday.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Bluefin tuna are off-limits to anglers in Mexico, but large schools of the powerful tuna have moved into Southern California waters, and one behemoth landed this week weighed 124.5 pounds. The bluefin was caught by Tim Smith between the 181 and 209 banks, southeast of Catalina, aboard Capt. Larry Hartmann’s Discovery, a 30-foot Grady White. Hartmann, 51, said the area teemed with bluefin that were leaping and looked so large from a distance that he thought they were common dolphins. The group aboard Discovery had been kelp paddy-hopping, and had boated five yellowtail to about 25 pounds when “all hell... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors