- June 2013 (1)
- May 2013 (5)
- April 2013 (1)
- March 2013 (1)
- February 2013 (6)
- January 2013 (3)
- December 2012 (4)
- November 2012 (6)
- October 2012 (2)
- September 2012 (3)
- August 2012 (4)
- July 2012 (3)
- May 2012 (2)
- April 2012 (2)
- March 2012 (5)
- February 2012 (4)
- January 2012 (9)
- December 2011 (6)
- November 2011 (4)
- October 2011 (4)
- September 2011 (1)
- August 2011 (5)
- July 2011 (1)
- June 2011 (7)
- May 2011 (7)
- April 2011 (9)
- March 2011 (7)
- February 2011 (9)
- January 2011 (2)
- December 2010 (3)
- November 2010 (2)
To borrow an old description, me trying to explore the Gornaslatinska Cave in Macedonia was like trying to push a camel through the eye of a needle. Thankfully I had some good kneepads because there was a lot of crawling under stalactites and over bat guano to squeeze through the seriously dark, wet, bat poop covered claustrophobic spaces. We talk about the adventure this week with my guide Stole Misev on my radio show National Geographic Weekend.
Drinking home brew in Macedonia. Rakija is the favorite social lubricant in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. When the people are so welcoming, and insist on filling my glass how can I refuse to partake? I discuss my visit to Macedonia, and my rakija encounter this week on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend.
Skating on thin ice. That could be the story line for polar bears this past summer in the Norwegian Arctic. When I was up there in the waters around Svalbard, Norway it seemed as if the ice was disappearing faster than in previous years. Without ice the polar bears, don’t have a platform from which to hunt seals, the main source of fat rich food.
We did get lucky and see a good number of these, “ice bears”, from the deck of our ship, Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Explorer. Part of the reason for our good fortune may have been due to bad news for the bears in that there were more open seas and less ice on which they could roam or hide out. Sometimes we would spot the bears off in the distance and slowly move the ship towards them, and other times the bears would spot us and come in for a closer look.
Lindblad naturalist Steve MacLean talked with me for my radio show National Geographic Weekend about some of the problems facing polar bears and other arctic creatures due to a warming planet. Here’s part of that interview as well as video of some of the polar bear action we got to enjoy.
Do the Walrus. It may just be the next big dance craze. Before you rush to judgment and think I’m just making this up you might want to check out some of their booty-shaking moves. As you might expect when anything as big as a walrus starts rockin’ and rollin’ you can’t take your eyes off it.
I was treated to the walrus version of, “So You Think You Can Dance,” while in the Norwegian Arctic this summer on the “National Geographic Endeavor.’ We were fortunate to see several groups of walruses doing more than just sleep on the beach. Elyse Lockton, a naturalist for Lindblad Expeditions, who’s spent many summers watching these giant marine mammals told me about some of the other things walruses do that make them a most interesting animal. It’s probably a good thing they have some unique abilities, because they may also be on many people’s top 10 list of ugliest animals.
You can hear part of my interview with Elyse in this video as well as see the dancing walruses, and you can catch the entire interview this week on National Geographic Weekend.
Typically it’s only in an Alfred Hitchcock movie that you have to worry about an all out attack from dive bombing birds, but arctic terns will turn that fiction into reality if you step across some invisible line in the sand they’ve drawn around their territory. Recently on a trip to the Arctic with Lindblad Expeditions aboard the National Geographic Explorer I apparently crossed that line.
The arctic terns were putting on quite a show at one of our stops in Svalbard, Norway. It’s true of many creatures, humans included, that nothing motivates a male more than his desire to impress the opposite sex, and these guys were doing some spectacular aerobatics in an effort to curry favor with the ladies. They would hover in the air like a helicopter surveying the water below until they spotted a small fish, then dive down, grab the fish and carry it back as present to the female. The gift is apparently the tern equivalent of expensive jewelry.
But in the course of filming the action, I stepped to close to a nesting area and got a fish eye’s view of diving terns. My head was now the bombing target and the bird’s beaks were raining down like incoming missiles. Looking around I spotted the nest. It was a safe distance away and in no danger of being stepped on by me, but the protective terns had decided I was close enough and launched their attack.
I talk with Lindblad naturalist Brent Stephenson about arctic terns and their behavior in love and war on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend. So tune in to the show and tune in to adventure.
The blue whale is the biggest animal on the planet. but no matter how many times you read than fact about these giant marine mammals you don’t fully appreciate what it means until one surfaces right beside your ship. Even if it’s a good sized ship like the National Geographic Explorer, when a blue whale swims along side, it is one impressively large animal when seen up close.
On my recent trip to the arctic around Svalbard, Norway with Lindblad Expeditions we were watching a blue whale feeding in a area a couple of hundred yards off the bow. Nothing too dramatic was happening, in fact the whale was doing a series of shallow dives and didn’t even show its tail fluke before going down each time. I was watching and had my cameras, but didn’t think it was picture worthy so I was spending most of the time on deck taking pictures of birds flying near the ship.
Then the whale surprised us all by suddenly appearing from beneath the ship swimming just below the surface for a few seconds before emerging to send up a big plume of spray as it exhaled through it’s blow hole. About ten minutes later the whale came by for a second pass swimming along the port side, passing just a few feet off the bow and then emerging with another big blow on the starboard side.
I talk about the encounter on my radio show, “National Geographic Weekend” this week but here are some pictures and video of the whale putting on a show for us.
I’m headed for Turkey in a couple of hours where I’ll be sampeling ice cream from street vendors at every chance. I’m willing to put my waist line at risk for two reasons, OK three reasons since reason number one is my serious addition to ice cream. But beyond my weakness reason number two, the ice cream in Turkey is really good, but even better than the taste is reason number three, the show the vendors give you when they make your cone.
I talk about ice cream as performance art this week on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend. I’ve watched the routine dozens of times but it always leaves me laughing and even when you don’t speak the language, laughter opens the lines of communication.
In this video after serving up a little ice cream I also try to make bread with some Turkish women in a small village. This time the laughter is related to my feeble attempts to master their bread making skills. You can hear the full story of laughter as the great universal language on National Geographic Weekend.
My how time flies. Fifty years ago this month The Rolling Stones started up and rock and roll was never the same. If Elvis and then the Beatles made your parents nervous, the Stones gave them nightmares and convinced them it was time to lock up the women and children. The Stones had an image of living on the edge and many of us from their generation wanted to join them. Their music was the vehicle to take us there.
After almost twenty-five years of making music and despite their influence on rock and roll, and number one records and sold out concerts the band had never won a Grammy. In 1986 the Grammys tried to makeup for that failure by giving them a Lifetime Achievement award. I went to London to interview the band about the honor for the Today Show. Mick jagger, Keith Richards, and Bill Wyman seemed to all have slightly different takes on whether or not it was in fact an honor.
Since this is the fiftieth anniversary of the band and there is some uncertainty as to whether or not they will ever tour again, I though it would be a good time to post this old Today Show story. In it there’s a small taste of how Mick and Keith don’t always see eye to eye. Their answers to my questions also show an honesty that not all celebrities are willing to reveal. I think that same attitude was present in their music, which helped make it so successful. It certainly made interviewing the guys a fun experience.
Bob Ballard, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, has made same amazing undersea discoveries in his career, finding the Titanic, the Bismark, PT 109, and numerous other famous ships once lost to the oceans, but he has never had a summer of exploration like this one. Using his new ship the Nautilus, a high tech exploration platform, he located a record number of sunken ships in the waters off Turkey.
I visited Bob on the Nautilus to get a tour of the ship he’s been describing to me for two years. He showed me some of the high definition video of his new discoveries and proudly described the two remote operated vehicles that uncover the secrets 13,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. The complete interview with Bob will air on my radio show National Geographic Weekend this week, but this video will give you some of the highlights of our conversation and well as giving you a look at the Nautilus.