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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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Shaggy pre-capture; photo by Steve Zaagman/WZZM News By Pete Thomas/GrindTv A large brown dog that had eluded capture in Michigan for seven months, winning the hearts of thousands, has finally been caught. The abandoned Newfoundland, nicknamed Shaggy, had roamed Grand Rapids neighborhoods visibly, often in close proximity to people walking their pet dogs, but would not allow himself to be captured despite attempts with net guns and tranquilizers. Shaggy in a cage, en route to a rehab facility; photo by Ella Stubbert However, Shaggy recently began to hang out in front of a nearby suburban home owned by Jim and... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Night divers off Hawaii’s Kona coast last weekend marveled not only at the giant mantas they had planned on viewing, but a critically endangered monk seal that interacted with the mantas and the divers for two nights. It was magical experience from a purely aesthetic standpoint, given the gracefulness of the mantas as they soared in and out of the lights feeding on plankton, and the surprise appearance of an agile and curious seal. But it was remarkable, also, because Hawaiian monk seals are critically endangered, numbering only 1,100. They're the most endangered mammal in the United... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv A great white shark landed Sunday near Panama City, Florida, might be the first white shark caught from the beach in the Gulf of Mexico. The juvenile white shark, measuring almost 10 feet, was caught by Derrick Keeny of a club called Dark Side Sharkers. They tagged the shark and, after posing for the accompanying images, released the predator, which they reported on the tag submission to be in “excellent” condition. “No doubt a once-in-a-lifetime catch,” Dark Side Sharkers posted Monday on Facebook. Great white sharks are rarely caught from the beach anywhere in the world. They’re... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Whale watching does not often involve violence, but this week off Maui, Kate Cummings witnessed and photographed a bonafide clash of titans. Specifically, several male humpback whales, weighing 30 to 40 tons apiece, fighting to establish dominance in the presence of a female. This is the end of breeding season in Hawaiian waters, and brawls such as this occur, but rarely are they photographed in such vivid detail (note the blood materializing on the whale’s tubercles). Cummings, a naturalist who runs Blue Ocean Whale Watch in Monterey, California, provided the sequence for this story. She has witnessed... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Folks might recall the saga of an abandoned dog named Shaggy, who has eluded capture in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for six months, despite being seen almost daily in neighborhoods and walking alongside residents out walking their dogs. We can now report that Shaggy, a large Newfoundland believed to be about 2 years old, is on the verge of being captured in a nearby suburb. Shaggy, who has outwitted animal-control experts armed with a net gun, and has only become more skittish when tranquilized, has for the past several days been hanging out at a private residence where... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Kai Rizzuto (middle) poses with giant marlin; photo via Ihu Nui Sportfishing By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Hawaii’s Kona Coast is one of the world’s premier destinations for giant marlin, and the most sought-after prize is a billfish topping 1,000 pounds, or a grander. That dream is rarely realized but on Wednesday, 16-year-old Kai Rizzuto, while visiting from New York, landed a blue marlin weighing 1,058 pounds, while fishing aboard the Ihu Nui. It was Rizzuto’s first blue marlin and the first grander caught this year off Kona. Rizzuto, grandson of Hawaii fishing author Jim Rizzuto, is believed to be the youngest... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Drawing via Wikipedia By Pete Thomas/GrindTv The probable sighting of North Pacific right whales off California's San Miguel Island during the past several days had researchers scrambling Wednesday to board a boat or plane and try to spot and photograph the endangered mammals. The estimated population for the Northeast Pacific sub-population of these whales is only about 50 individuals, so sightings are exceedingly rare. (The western sub-population off Japan numbers in the low hundreds.) According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the North Pacific right whale is the most endangered whale species on earth. Sightings at San Miguel Island, within... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Life seems to keep getting better for pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who in 2003 lost her left arm to a shark while riding waves near her home on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Not only was she able to keep surfing at an elite level, and become the focus of “Soul Surfer,” a feature film showcasing her inspirational story; Hamilton found her “soul mate” in Adam Dirks, a youth minister, and the two were married two years ago–10 years after the shark attack. Bethany Hamiton photo is courtesy of Noah Hamilton Photography On Monday, Hamilton and Dirks... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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Humpback whale images are via ©Steve Hinczynski By Pete Thomas/GrindTv Scuba divers on a recent excursion to Mexico’s Socorro Island were part of a scene that was so magical and idyllic that it will remain in their minds forever: a mother humpback whale and her newborn calf, along with a male escort, playfully going about their day seemingly without a care. But the same divers, a day later, would learn how quickly and dramatically nature can turn things around; how a scene that was so wonderful one day could be so heart-wrenching the next. Those magical moments were to be... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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By Pete Thomas/GrindTv A massive elk shot by a Wyoming hunter is the largest ever killed with a crossbow, with a rack spanning more than 4 feet in width. Albert Henderson of Burlington, Wyoming, was informed this week by Safari Club International that the animal he shot during the archery-hunting season last fall is a new world record. SCI uses specific measurements and a scoring system to determine records. Henderson’s elk was scored at 426.5 points, making it only one of a handful of elk to exceed 400 points. Henderson, 49, shot the elk from 53 yards on the fifth... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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The following story appeared January 28 on GrindTv.com, and was featured on the Yahoo homepage, where it garnered nearly 1 million views. People from around the world have become interested in the plight of Shaggy, who continues to elude animal-control experts who want to save him from the Michigan winter and find him a suitable home. Avery Sullenger-Wedder, who has been closely following the saga, said Tuesday that enough money has been raised to purchase a net gun, cover medical expenses, and pay for any training Shaggy should need once he's captured. Additionally, a Help Shaggy Facebook page has been... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2015 at Pete Thomas Outdoors
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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 Jan 28, 2015 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 Jan 28, 2015 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 Jan 27, 2015 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 Jan 26, 2015 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