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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-the-wind sailors strand by thousands in La Push, Washington; photo via NOAA Olympic Peninsula National Marine Sanctuary By Pete Thomas, GrindTv They ride the wind and currents, traveling in whatever direction nature intends, and every so often the mysterious blue sea creatures end up stranded on beaches throughout the west coast of North America. This is one of those years. By-the-wind sailors, as the gelatinous, oval-shaped critters are sometimes called, began washing ashore in Washington and Oregon more than a month ago. Since then the mass stranding has taken on the form of an alien-like invasion, with the critters showing... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Gray whale swims inside Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor; photo by ©Erik Combs/Harbor Breeze Cruises A young gray whale–believed to be the same whale spotted Wednesday in San Diego’s Mission Bay–was spotted Friday inside Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor. The accompanying image, showing a barnacle-covered 16-foot gray whale, was captured early Friday afternoon by Eric Combs for Harbor Breeze Cruises. The tiny whale–16 feet is about the same size as newborns–probably has been scouring the sandy harbor bottom for possible prey items. Most of the 22,000 gray whales have already reached their Arctic feeding grounds, having spent the winter in Baja California... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Joe Ludlow poses with 181-pound opah caught aboard the Excel Three anglers recently completed a rare and perhaps unprecedented feat when each landed an opah on the same day aboard a San Diego-based boat fishing in Mexican waters. Opah, also referred to as moonfish, are rarely caught by sport fishermen, and for three people to catch one on the same vessel was considered extraordinary. But lost amid the hype swirling in fishing circles when the photo of this opah trifecta surfaced on the Excel Sportfishing Facebook page was that one of the moonfish, a 181-pounder caught by Joe Ludlow, is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Humpback whale surfaces for a view of the Empire State Building; photo by ©Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Two weeks ago, we profiled the stunning humpback whale feeding display occurring close to shore off Monterey, California. Enthusiasts are still watching in awe as the giant mammals lunge upward through vast shoals of anchovies to ingest thousands of the small fish in a single gulp. But humpback whales are putting on a spectacular exhibition in nearshore waters off New York and New Jersey, too, gorging on schooling menhaden. The East Coast phenomenon is unique in that more whales are showing... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Armando Castillo, Joe Ludlow and Travis Savala (left to right) pose with opah aboard the Excel By Pete Thomas, GrindTv Anglers aboard the San Diego-based Excel have spent the past several days loading up on tuna and yellowtail, during what many are describing as the most phenomenal bite in regional waters in decades. But standing out among the yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, and yellowtail are three enormous fish shaped like the moon and nearly as radiant. They're opah, weighing in at 151, 180, and 124 pounds, caught respectively by Armando Castillo, Joe Ludlow, and Travis Savala (see photo). To catch... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Minke whale images are courtesy of ©Slater Moore By Pete Thomas/GrindTv A minke whale seen breaching multiple times on Sunday with its mouth open, revealing the baleen plates it uses to filter plankton, has been a widely-discussed topic on social media. Mostly because this type of behavior is so rare, but also because it was captured in a photo sequence. Slater Moore was working on the Ocean Explorer out of Newport Beach in Southern California. The captain was headed toward a blue whale in the distance, but as a photographer Moore knew to keep his camera ready. Suddenly, off to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Gray whale dragging kelp and perhaps a rope off Mission Beach; photo via Facebook By Pete Thomas, GrindTv For those who like to root for the underdog, a young gray whale off California is struggling mightily, yet against strong odds, to reach its Arctic home waters. Last Thursday the 25-foot juvenile whale was spotted off Mission Beach and La Jolla in San Diego County. It was entangled with rope—possibly a commercial fishing line—and kelp, and was clearly encumbered (see top image). Most gray whales have already reached their Arctic feeding grounds, after spending the winter and part of spring in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Add opah to the list of exotic catches made off Southern California during the El Niño-like summer of 2014. Tosh Williams poses with 50-pound opah A 50-pound opah was caught Sunday morning by Tosh Williams aboard the Fury, which runs from Dana Wharf Sportfishing. The Fury was on an overnight excursion that departed for the fishing grounds Saturday night. The catch was made 50 miles south of Dana Point, about 22 miles east of San Clemente Island. The crew stopped the vessel and turned on the bright lights at about 4 a.m. Sunday. After some chumming of anchovies, bluefin tuna... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas, via GrindTv There are fish tales, and there are fish tails. This tale involves a common thresher shark, caught recently off Florida, which boasted a tail so long that it boosted the predator’s overall length to about 20 feet. Common thresher sharks are also referred to as long-tailed thresher sharks, but even so, this shark's tail seemed to resemble the rib bone of a whale. “Normally a thresher’s tail is about as long as its body, but you’re right, this one had an abnormally long tail,” said Mark “the Shark” Quartiano, a popular but controversial fishing guide... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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A German astronaut with the European Space Agency is showing the world what the fighting between Gaza and Israel looks like from space. Alexander Gerst captured two very similar images recently from the International Space Station. They reveal city lights, but also explosions and missile or rocket trails streaming across the sky. On Wednesday, Gerst posted one of the images to Facebook and Twitter, beneath the caption: "My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel." (The image is posted above.) Many of the Facebook comments, in German-language, are from people... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Two paddlers enjoyed the thrill of lifetime recently off Argentina, when their kayak was lifted out of the water by a southern right whale. The man and woman might also be lucky that they weren’t injured, because this does not appear to be a case where the whales actively approached the kayak. Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a California-based whale researcher, said after watching the footage that the paddlers appear to have stopped paddling, and their momentum carried them toward the whales as the cetaceans milled at the surface. Video screen grab (One paddle can be seen out of the water, and stationary,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Dorado (mahi-mahi) caught Thursday off Dana Point; photo via Dana Wharf Sportfishing By Pete Thomas, via GrindTv Outdoor Something very fishy is happening off Southern California. Anglers are kelp paddy-hopping and discovering enormous schools of yellowtail beneath the floating amber masses. Fishermen are trolling through schools of dolphins and hooking yellowfin tuna–as close as five miles from shore and as far north as Oxnard. Anglers are even catching dorado, or mahi-mahi, and bluefin tuna. It’s a dreamlike situation for those who like to target these fish, because they don’t have to embark on a multiday boat voyage far down the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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A float plane pilot’s sharp vision and reflexes appears to have saved a collision between the landing aircraft and a surfacing whale in Southeast Alaska. The close call occurred July 10 in the community of Angoon, and was videotaped by Thomas Hamm of San Diego, California. Hamm told the Alaska Dispatch that his video capture was “just a lucky shot.” In the footage viewers can see the pilot adjust to the sudden presence of the whale just as the airplane is about to touch down, and as the whale comes up for a breath. The float plane serves several communities... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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The boat is badly damaged but the fishermen are OK, while it remains unclear how the whale shark fared. Whale shark image is generic The collision occurred Saturday in the Sea of Cortez, and involved the vessel Jen Wren, which runs from the Baja California community of Buena Vista. Mark Rayor, owner of Jen Wren Sportfishing, recalled the incident this week in his “East Cape–A day in the life” column. The Jen Wren had been cruising into the bright glare of the sun, and Chuy, the captain, did not see the whale shark until after it was struck. “It had... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Photo courtesy of Devin Brown/Alaskan Anglers Inn A Southern California angler visiting Alaska has landed one of the largest halibut ever caught, and could be in the running for a world record were it not for the manner by which the 482-pound fish was subdued. Jack McGuire, 76, who is from Santa Ana, reeled in the barn-door-plus halibut after a 40-minute fight while fishing last week with three friends out of the remote port of Gustavus, near Glacier Bay. The International Game Fish Assn. lists a 459-pound halibut, caught out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in 1996, as the world record.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas, via GrindTv Outdoor NOAA issued its latest El Niño forecast Thursday, calling for a high chance of the warm-water event becoming a reality in late summer. Though NOAA predicts a fairly moderate El Niño, other forecasters have predicted a stronger event, perhaps rivaling the powerful 1997-98 El Niño, which severely altered weather patterns and lured tropical and sub-tropical species of fish hundreds or thousands of miles north of their typical range. With this in mind, and since peculiar sightings and catches already have been documented this summer, we looked back to the 1997-98 El Niño, making note... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Hammerhead shark image is courtesy of ©Dale Frink/Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari Whether the sighting of a hammerhead shark on Tuesday off Dana Point–the second in a week–has anything to do with a developing El Niño is debatable. But both were unusual, if not rare sightings, and some are speculating that unusually warm surface temperatures off Southern California are a factor. The 6-foot hammerhead was spotted by passengers on a whale-watching trip with Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari, which runs from Dana Point Harbor. (Be sure to watch the video in HD.) Hammerhead sharks, which can measure 15-plus... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas, via GrindTv Outdoor Whale watchers out of Monterey Bay on Monday evening were treated to an amazing spectacle, but instead of whales it was thousands of seabirds that stole the spotlight. The feeding grounds off Moss Landing were overrun by tens of thousands–perhaps hundreds of thousands–of sooty shearwaters, which spanned nearly as far as the eye could see. In dense fog with obscured visibility, the pelagic seabirds created a surreal, almost Hitchcockian atmosphere as they frantically hurried from one spot to another, to gorge on schooling anchovies, at times littering the water in tight, dark masses. In... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Video screen grab Two boaters were spilled into the ocean Wednesday off San Diego when a surface-feeding blue whale capsized the 23-foot inflatable boat they were using to observe the giant mammals. The dramatic incident was captured on videotape, and a still photo shows the giant whale breaking the surface, its mouth agape, moments before the boat flipped over (posted above). Nobody was injured, and perhaps just as remarkable is that the footage survived the harrowing event, which occurred at about noon, 12 miles offshore. Another boater assisted the two capsize victims, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. In the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Last month this website published a story about odd whale sightings and other events in Southern California and Baja California waters, possibly related to a developing El Niño in the equatorial Pacific. On Wednesday morning, a yellowfin tuna was captured inside Newport Bay by scientists with Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. Whether it’s related to a developing El Niño or not, it's a very unusual catch, and the type of catch generally associated with warm-water events such as El Niño. The photo was posted on the Cousins Tackle Facebook page, with this introduction: "If this isn't a sign of an 'El Niño'... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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For fly fishermen, there’s nothing quite like the exhilaration one feels during the initial stages of the dry-fly hookup with a large wild trout. And you certainly don’t need subtitles, even though they’re provided, to gauge the level of excitement experienced by the fly fisherman in the accompanying video clip (shortened to get right to the moment.) The clip is part of a longer video, “Nemesis” by filmmaker Vak Magasin, that follows one angler's dream pursuit of landing a personal-best trout on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. His passionate reaction, which seems genuine, is sure to inspire smiles. It might also help... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Randy Beebe (left) poses next to his monster sheephead catch, being held by Capt. Chris Pica While many are hoping that a predicted El Niño will lure exotic species of game fish into Southern California waters, a resident sheephead was turning heads on Saturday. The California sheephead, caught by Randy Beebe aboard the Reel Fun out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing in Dana Point, tipped the scale at 21.13 pounds. It was the largest sheephead anyone at the landing had seen, and it’s much larger than the typical 3- to 7-pound sheephead caught by Southern California anglers. However, it falls short... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
California’s summer whale-watching season has begun, and many are on lookout for gargantuan blue whales, which spend parts of summer and fall gorging on krill. Not to be overlooked, however, are numerous smaller whales and dolphins. But among these thousands upon thousands of cetaceans, only a small number truly stand out, so we’ve compiled a list of what tourists might watch out for during their next ocean odyssey. 5 whales, dolphins you might see off California: Hook (blue whale, pictured above) The peculiar shape of this mammal's tail fluke, most likely the result of a birth defect or an orca... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Video screen grab Scientists using a remotely-operated vehicle to explore the depths of Gulf of Mexico on Friday marveled at the sight of rarely-observed vampire squid, swimming lazily above the sea floor. The sighting was documented by the crew aboard EVNautilus, and the footage shows the fascinating cephalopod moving slowly, yet gracefully in the gentle current. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which last month acquired a vampire squid, they're an ancient species that possess characteristics of a squid and an octopus. Its Latin name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, translates to “vampire squid from hell.” Contrary to its name, however, the vampire... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Is she, or isn’t she? That’s the burning question regarding the possibility–or likelihood?–that one of an endangered population of Pacific Northwest killer whales is pregnant. On Tuesday, a day after J32, also named Rhapsody, was photographed breaching off Victoria, British Columbia, marine mammal enthusiasts became engaged in a spirited debate on social media. Some were more hopeful than others, but everyone was rooting for an orca calf. Rhapsody belongs to J pod, one of three pods that make up the Southern Resident killer whales. As the images show, the 18-year-old female is revealing what looks to be an enormous baby... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors