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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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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 4 hours ago 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 5 days ago 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 7 days ago 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 7 days ago 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
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Roosterfish are prized for their stubbornness on the hook and, perhaps above all else, their beautiful shape and coloration. But a large roosterfish caught Sunday in Baja California’s East Cape region looked as though it had survived an oil spill. Its flesh was covered with dark blotches, its stripes were missing, and its tail-fin was worn. The 40- to 50-pound roosterfish was caught by crew members aboard Jen Wren, which is operated by Mark and Jennifer Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing. Rayor said the fish ate a Spanish mackerel and was hooked east of Rancho Leonero Resort, in about 60... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Humpback whale breaches are a fairly common sight in areas where the mammals are feeding and socializing. Images showing breaching humpbacks are so commonplace that you can find them on just about every website or social media page devoted to whales and other marine mammals. But a double breach, or a perfectly synchronized breach, is a rare sight and extremely difficult to capture with a camera, because it’s such an unpredictable event. That’s why Kate Cummings, who on Thursday captured the image atop this post, said she was “still full of adrenaline” hours after her expedition with Blue Ocean Whale... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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It turns out Western Australia’s shark-culling program is not only controversial, but very expensive. An official review of the program’s recent 14-week trial period revealed that it cost the government $1.28 million, or about $25,000 per shark that met the target size of at least three meters long. Overall, 172 sharks were caught during the trial period that ended on April 30. Of those, 50 met the target size and were killed. That comes out to $25,600 per shark. Despite fierce opposition from conservationists and shark experts who claim the shark cull is environmentally damaging, and that it only provides... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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The American paddlefish flourished throughout the Mississippi River basin for more than 300 million years, before being nearly wiped out as civilization spread throughout their range. But this week the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service tweeted that “an ancient fish species is making a comeback,” and linked to its story about an ambitious effort to aid the recovery of paddlefish. The USFWS reports that 50 hatchery-raised paddlefish were recently released into Caddo Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border, and on the Big Cypress Bayou River, on which the lake is formed. Each fish is 18 months old and measures 2 to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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A developing El Niño in the equatorial Pacific has generated predictions of drastic weather changes–some devastating, some beneficial–throughout the world. There’s a 90% probability that an El Niño will form, up considerably from previous predictions, but the main question no is whether this will be moderate El Niño or, more likely, a powerful warm-water event such as those in the early 1980s and late 90s. The extent of El Niño’s strength won’t be known until late summer or fall. But based on early interesting signals, in the form of mammals, birds and fish showing up where they don’t typically belong,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Just when it seemed as though the California brown pelican population was flourishing, having rebounded from near-extinction over the past century, the iconic birds have suffered another significant setback. The University of California at Davis has released findings of a survey that reveal a sharp decline in the number of breeding pairs in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California. About 90% of California brown pelicans breed and raise their chicks in the gulf. Biologists visit sites that typically hold tens of thousands of nesting birds. But this year many those sites were alarmingly deserted, in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Note to anyone who wants to see a great white shark: Visit Manhattan Beach, California, and walk out onto the pier. And if you happen to be out paddling a SUP board, keep your eyes peeled. Your chances are pretty good. Sightings of juvenile great white sharks began early this season, and have skyrocketed during the past several days. Taking advantage of the situation, photographer Bo Bridges recently launched a camera-fitted drone and videotaped a reasonably large great white swimming among two SUP paddlers. It might be the first drone-captured footage of a great white shark in an area that... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Lots of people have watched dolphins riding waves, but in comparison, very few have seen the mammals surfing from the vantage point of a small drone. Researcher Dave Riggs captured the unique and surreal footage recently while spying for sharks above the breakers at Esperance, in Western Australia. “I’m basically using a Phantom drone to look for white sharks off the southern WA coastline,” Riggs explained via email. “I came across the pod of bottlenose dolphins just west of Esperance… there were well over 100 in the group.” The footage reveals an interesting look at the dynamics at play when... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Researchers were astonished this week to discover that Moonbird had returned to Delaware Bay, once again, to gorge on the eggs of horseshoe crabs before resuming his northbound journey. Moonbird is a red knot and looks like the other shorebirds of the same name, except for the orange band around his leg, which bears the male bird’s other name, B95. B95 was banded at Delaware Bay, on the Northeast seaboard, in 1995. He was believed to have been at least 2 years old at the time. He’s the oldest-known member of a species that annually migrates nearly 20,000 miles, round-trip,... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Fin whales are the world’s second largest whale species and can measure 80-plus feet, and weigh as much as 70 tons. Because of their immense size, they almost never breach, which makes the rare photo accompanying this story all the more striking. The image was captured May 22 in the Strait of Gibraltar by a researcher for the Spanish cetacean conservation group, CIRCE (Conservación, Información y Estudio sobre cetáceos). CIRCE posted the image and a YouTube video to its Facebook page last week. The video footage shows two of three breaches–the first at 3 seconds and the second at 1:15–and... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2014 at Pete Thomas Outdoors