The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Feb 2011

Egypt Pays $50,000 to Russian Shark-Attack Victim

Shark Courtesy of Flickr

Although the recent political turmoil in Egypt may have hurt the country's tourism industry, a slurry of shark attacks in the Red Sea has made travel to the North African nation even less attractive. Six shark attacks this winter caused the Egyptian Tourism Ministry to close parts of the coastline, warn caution to all beach-goers, and undertake a large-scale hunt for the marauding whitetip sharks.

On Wednesday, the Egyptian Tourism Ministry paid $50,000 USD to a Russian man who lost his left arm to a shark and had his right severly mauled, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. Three Russians and a Ukranian were hurt in other attacks and a 70-year-old German woman killed earlier in the month.

The seemingly wanton plucking of tourists from resort-side waters drove the Tourism Ministry, along with environmental authorities and biologists, to organize a hunt for the sharks. Two whitetip sharks, whose damaged fins provided divers a way of identifying the predators, were killed.

According to the International Shark Attack File, which has a global database of shark attacks on humans, there have been only nine reports of whitetip sharks attacking humans since records began in 1580. One of the nine attacks was fatal.

--Will Grant

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Video: Bethany Hamilton's Soul Surfer Trailer

The trailer to Soul Surfer, the new movie about the life of Bethany Hamilton, is making its way around the web. Hamilton lost her arm at the age of 13 in a tiger shark attack off the island of Kauai while surfing with her friend Alana Blanchard. She returned to surfing just a few months later to pursue her dream of becoming a pro.

So far, the buzz around the movie has centered around the inclusion of Christianity. The Hollywood Reporter broke a story that the words Holy Bible were edited off of the cover of a book when the movie was shown during a screening. They were put back in after the family objected. 

“I could see the words bright and clear. I looked at my wife and whispered, ‘Thank you God, they put it back,” Tom Hamilton told The Hollywood Reporter.

--Joe Spring

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President Obama Unveils America's Great Outdoors Report


Yesterday, President Obama unveiled the America's Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations report, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.The AGO report focuses on connecting Americans with the outdoors and encourages  active, outdoor lifestyles.

Sally Jewell, president and CEO of REI, introduced President Obama at the news conference. "I asked her if she brought me any gear," President Obama said. "She said Secret Service wouldn't let her."

Last April, President Obama launched the AGO initiative. The movement brings together the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service, and the Department of the Interior, which includes the National Park Service, to solicit the public for ways  the federal government can better serve conservation interests across the country.

--Will Grant

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Study Reveals Secrets of Bear Hibernation

Black Bear
Five to seven months without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating. It's not a punishment, it's hibernation, and bears do it every winter. Until now, however, little was known about the physiological changes that allow a bear to survive hibernation.

A study released today by researchers at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, sheds some light on how bears manage to avoid starvation and muscle atrophy while hibernating, according to ScienceNOW. Researchers studied five hibernating bears for five winter months in a near-natural environment, meaning that each bear was given an artificial den in the forest and fitted with a sensor to record their temperature and hear rate.

The results of the study may contribute to emergency medical care by helping scientists understand how lowering the metabolic needs of a patient may extend the "golden hour," the hour after trauma when medical treatment is most effective.

--Will Grant

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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Kaiak: The Search Continues

Photo by Chris Korbulic          Yes, that's a kayaker at the edge of the falls. From last year's trip. (Courtesy of Caue Ito)

The following is the first in a series of dispatches from
kayaker Chris Korbulic.

In 2010, Ben Stookesberry, Brazilian Pedro Oliva, and I faced some of the most difficult whitewater in central Brazil. Thanks to Pedro's desire to be the face of kayaking in Brazil, images from the trip were produced into a television series for a Brazilian network. (You can watch last year's trailer here.) To capture 13 episodes, we covered thousands of kilometers through the great diversity of the southern Amazon Basin, and met many challenges, but are back again! This year, we depart from Manaus and travel along the most voluminous river on earth, the Amazon, north to the tri-border region with Brazil, Venezuela, and Guiana.

Courtesy of Chris Korbulic                                     From last year's trip (Courtesy of Chris Korbulic)

Here, we will visit the mystical Highlands of Guiana, which cover much of Venezuela, Guiana, and the northern state of Roraima in Brazil. The region is home to the impressive tepui mountains and some of the world's most spectacular waterfalls. These tabletop mountains rise one over the other, like giant steps, with escarpments hundreds to thousands of feet tall, rain-fed waterfalls pouring over their edges: the perfect conditions to find big, runnable waterfalls.

The shield is one of the regions of highest biodiversity in the world and many national parks in Guiana and Venezuela protect the vast expanse of undisturbed tropical rain forest. The highlands remain one of the world's last frontiers, but development is moving in along the edges. Potentially enormous mineral wealth—including gold, diamonds, and iron ore—lies under the cover of dense jungle. Luckily, rivers in “The Land of Many Waters” are far from the heaviest power demands along the coast, but they could start to form the power base for further inland development.

  Chris Korbulic, Andressa, Pedro Oliva                                 Chris Korbulic, Andress, and Pedro Oliva

Ben, Pedro, and I will travel through the mystical tepui lands and meet the people of the region, filming all along the way to capture the adventure, awareness, and our unique obstacles. We will be joined by a new Brazilian team member named Andressa, a champion Hawaiian canoeist. The adventure begins the last week of February when the whole team meets in Manaus to start the trip north. This will be the second season of "Kaiak", the first adventure kayaking television series.

Would you watch? Wait for the next update after we pack up to hit the road and river.

--Chris Korbulic

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