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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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Witnessing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, belongs on the bucket list of anyone who appreciates breathtaking natural wonders. But few have witnessed this ethereal light show as intimately as Horacio Llorens, who recently soared beneath a radiant aurora in the sky above Tromso, Norway while piloting a paraglider. The Red Bull athlete donned a wetsuit because most of his flight was over water, and wore heated gloves to stay warm in sub-zero temperatures. Special lights were placed in his motorized aircraft to light the wing against the changing colors of the sky. The footage was captured at multiple angles... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
Police are investigating a report by a snowboarder that he was shoved out of a chairlift by a skier Sunday at Aspen Highlands in Colorado. Seth Beckton, the snowboarder, fell face-first 20 to 25 feet, but was fortunate to have landed in soft powder and was not injured. “I honestly thought I was dead,” he told the Aspen Times. “Because I didn’t know where we were [or how high]. It’s not cool to think anyone would do that.” Beckton, 28, did not report the morning incident until the end of the day, at the urging of friends. This will make... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas Two Western Australian anglers gained notoriety this week after landing an enormous hammerhead shark and tiger shark from the beach. Jethro Bonnitcha and Joshua Butterworth, of the Esperance area, released both sharks after posing for photos. The hammerhead measured 13 feet 6 inches. The tiger shark was not measured but was at least 12 feet long, Butterworth said. Bonnitcha was handling the rod during both marathon battles, and nearly collapsed from fatigue during the 2.5-hour fight with the hammerhead. Butterworth assisted with the precarious beach landings, and releases. “You can’t catch sharks like that alone,” he said,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2016 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas A dorado tagged and released on December 13 off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, was recaptured 19 days later 500 miles south off the mainland state of Jalisco. In that time the year-old dorado, a.k.a mahimahi and dolphinfish, grew three inches and gained 8 ounces to weigh 6.5 pounds. The distance the small fish traveled in that time, while impressive, was not as surprising as the tag being recovered by Gray Fishtag Research, which reported its findings this week. “The recovery rate for tags in smaller fish like this is small to begin with, but the commercial fisherman... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2016 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas This week I was informed that a gray whale photographed off Southern California on Jan. 2 is the same whale I photographed last Feb. 1, and that the whale has become quite famous locally because of its distinctive appearance. Meet "Half-Fluke," who some time ago endured a killer whale attack that resulted in the removal of a large portion of the mammal’s right tail fin. The cetacean is easily identifiable for researchers such as Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who named Half-Fluke and keeps track of notable marine mammal sightings. The more times Half-Fluke is documented, the more researchers are... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2016 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Hurricane Sandra, which on Thursday morning was a major hurricane boasting sustained winds of 130 mph, is expected to weaken rapidly later in the day as it begins to veer to the northeast, toward the Mexican mainland. Sandra is expected to pass beneath Cabo San Lucas, at Baja California’s tip, as a tropical storm (winds of 73 mph or lighter) late Friday. There were no warnings in effect but the National Hurricane Center issued this caution in its 8 a.m. report: "INTERESTS IN SOUTHERN PORTIONS OF THE BAJA CALIFORNIA PENINSULA SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF SANDRA. A TROPICAL STORM WATCH... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Tropical Storm Sandra, a late-season cyclone that developed Tuesday off southern Mexico, is poised to deliver heavy rain, strong winds and flooding in Cabo San Lucas and elsewhere in Baja Sur, and on the mainland coast later this week. On Tuesday afternoon the storm was located 525 miles south-southwest of Manzanillo and packing sustained winds of 65 mph. But Sandra was intensifying rapidly and is expected to attain hurricane strength (74-mph winds or stronger) by Tuesday night. According to the National Hurricane Center, Sandra’s projected path shows a potential hit on Baja California’s tip as early as Friday afternoon. The... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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The body of UCLA graduate student Michael David Meyers, who had been missing since November 5, was discovered Saturday buried in snow in California’s John Muir Wilderness. The Los Angeles Times reports that search-and-rescue crews used sonar equipment to detect Meyers' body in an avalanche zone near Mt. Whitney. Speaking about the many significant injuries Meyers had suffered, Inyo County Sheriff William Lutze said, “It's like being in a head-on accident at 100 mph.” The 25-year-old's last contact with anyone was a November 5 text message informing a friend that he was hiking to Mt. Russell in the Inyo National... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Killer whales were spotted Thursday afternoon off Los Angeles County, marking yet another holiday season appearance. The orcas are the “friendly” CA51s, a mom, two sons, and a 5-year-old daughter, who are most frequently seen off Central and Northern California. They were seen five miles beyond Point Fermin on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, by passengers and crew aboard a Harbor Breeze Cruises boat out of Long Beach. (They were last seen heading toward Catalina.) This marks the fifth consecutive year that these marine mammal-eating transient killer whales have shown in the region at least once during the holiday season. The... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Fin whale saddled with a strand of rope; photo: Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari *UPDATE (7:30 p.m.): The rescuers were able to reach the fin whale at about dusk, but were not able to cut the rope before darkness fell. By Pete Thomas An entangled fin whale was the subject of a cooperative rescue operation Friday off Dana Point in Orange County, but rescuers were having trouble staying with the southbound mammal. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center was leading an effort that also involved Sea World Rescue, area fishermen and whale-watching vessel crews. The young fin whale was first... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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There's a village in northwest Wales called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlll­lantysiliogogogoch, and it'd seem that among the greatest fears for any newscaster would be to someday have to try to pronounce the name on the air. That harrowing moment arrived Wednesday for Channel 4 weather presenter Liam Dutton, because the village was one of the warmest locations in the UK. Surprisingly, he nailed the pronunciation smoothly, and was lauded for his effort throughout the day, via social media. “Easy for you to say,” was one of the comments directed jokingly at Dutton on his Twitter page. “Very impressive. Double points if you can... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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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 Aug 24, 2015 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