June 5, 2014

OR-7 was the first gray wolf in California since the 1920s, and now his pups are the first born in the Oregon Cascades since the 1940s.     Photo: Joachim S. Müller/Flickr

Famous Gray Wolf Fathers Pups

Big news for the endangered species

The saga continues for OR-7, California's first gray wolf. Last we heard of him, our hero had found a mate and biologists were eager for news of offspring. Now we have confirmation: OR-7 is father to at least two pups, the first known wolves born in the Oregon Cascades since the mid-1940s.

It's possible that there are more than just the two—wolves usually have four to six pups in a litter. We won't know until winter, when biologists do an official count. But this is great news for gray wolves, as last year's count revealed only 64 in all of Oregon. Even better, just two days after a remote camera spotted OR-7's pups, California's Fish and Game Commission voted to add the gray wolf to the state's endangered species list.

A remote camera captured a photo of OR-7's two known pups peeking from their den, located in Oregon's Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.   Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, more wolves are likely to head to California from Oregon, including OR-7 and his new family. "This is the first chapter in a longer story of wolves returning to California and living here in the wild," said Amaroq Weiss in a press release from the organization. 

Even before fatherhood, OR-7 had become quite the sensation as he traveled back and forth from Oregon to California. Though he's no longer the lone wolf he once was, he remains an important champion for those defending his species in a critical time of recovery. As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service debates removing the gray wolf from the national endangered species list, OR-7 and his little bundles of joy could be just the ticket for keeping gray wolves under federal protection.

0 Comments

World War II paratroopers ready for drop.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

WWII Vets to Parachute into Normandy Again

Originally part of the Allied invasion

Ninety-three-year-old Jim "Pee Wee" Martin originally parachuted into Normandy, France, 70 years ago as part of the Allied invasion of Europe. Now he's going to try it again, hopefully with less shrapnel whizzing through the air.

"They called us the tip of the spear," Martin told CBS News. "We wanted to get out of the plane quickly, because it was hitting the plane. Planes were blowing up, and we wanted to get the hell out of there." Martin was a private in the 101st Airborne, one of the paratrooper divisions dropped behind enemy lines mere hours before the D-Day boats landed. He would go on to fight in Holland, the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, and Germany.

He won't be making the jump himself, however. "They are making me do a tandem," he said in a phone interview. "They are worried about me getting hurt. I said, 'Don't worry about it. If I get hurt or I get killed, what is the difference? I've lived 93 years. I've had a good life.'" 

Martin isn't the only veteran on a quest to peacefully recreate history. He is joined by another veteran, Jock Hutton, formerly of the 13th Parachute Battalion of the British 6th Airborne Division, who will jump into a field near Ranville, along with hundreds of other British, Canadian, and American paratroopers who will reenact the operation. A meeting with the Prince of Wales will follow.

0 Comments

You'd be lying flat too if a Ghanian witch doctor had laid a curse on you.     Photo: Léa Gonzalez Calderon/Flickr

Witch Doctor "Injures" World Cup Mega-Star

Ronaldo's bum knee could be blessing for U.S.

Nana Kwaku Bonsam, a man reported by the Guardian as being Ghana's "most influential witch doctor," is taking credit for the knee injury that is threatening Cristiano Ronaldo's participation in the FIFA World Cup.

The star Portuguese striker and beacon of metrosexuality is suffering from tendinosis in his left knee, an affliction that could sideline him for his country's group stage matches against Germany, the United States, and, yes, Ghana. 

"I said it four months ago that I will work on Cristiano Ronaldo seriously and rule him out of the World Cup or at least prevent him from playing against Ghana, and the best thing I can do is to keep him out though injury," Bonsam said. "This injury can never be cured by any medic; they can never see what is causing the injury because it is spiritual. Today it is his knee, tomorrow it is his thigh, next day it is something else."

Although fans of Team USA may be grateful for Bonsam's spooky intervention, they'd better hope that the Ghanian concocter of spells doesn't decide to "work on" Michael Bradley or Clint Dempsey.

Meanwhile, World Cup host country Brazil is having problems of its own, as last night thousands of homeless Brazilians marched on Corinthians Stadium in Sao Paulo. Echoing last year's countrywide demonstrations, the protesters vented their frustration over Brazil's excessive spending for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

0 Comments

There are more than 168 reasons to eat lunch after you strap into one of Verrückt's rafts.     Photo: Courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts

World's Tallest Water Slide Opens in Kansas

168.5 feet high, reaches speeds up to 65 mph

Verrückt is German for "mind-boggling," "insane," and "mentally unbalanced." It's also the name of the new water slide opening today at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas.

The 168-foot-tall slide was certified as the world's tallest by a Guinness World Records judge in April. Riders descend to ground level at speeds up to 65 mph, and then (hopefully) ascend a five-story incline before hurtling down another 50 feet.

Not ones to let safety slide, park officials require riders to be burrito-wrapped into claustrophobia with protective mesh netting and strapped into rafts.

Despite recent reports that Verrückt, originally set to open May 23, wouldn't drop onto the scene until the end of June, thanks to operational issues with the bottom of the slide, quick construction (yikes) put the slide into earlier operation.

Images of the vomit comet can be found through local news station KMBC.

0 Comments

What better way to end your day than with a nice sunset and an 88-pound motor strapped to your back?     Photo: Ruaraidh Gillies/Flickr

Across the Emerald Isle in 3 Days

Paramotorist makes history as the first to complete the cross-country flying feat

Over the Cliffs of Moher and through McGillicuddy's Reeks to the history books he goes. Adventurer and polar explorer Mike O'Shea is now the first person to paramotor from one end of Ireland to the other. "Paramotoring is just using a parachute-style device, like a paraglider—so it's a fabric wing—with a motor on my back," explained O'Shea in a BBC video. "The motor weighs about 40 kilos. It's a flying contraption, for want of a better word."

The 590-kilometer, or 366-mile, journey began at Mizen Head, Ireland's southernmost point, and ended at Malin Head, the country's northern tip. It took O'Shea three days to complete the trip, which can be achieved by car in about 8.5 hours. Flying at heights of up to 10,000 feet and in subzero temperatures, O'Shea used mobile technology to monitor his health with a smart watch and GPS to navigate the expedition. A camera attached to O'Shea recorded the entirety of the trek. Vodafone Ireland sponsored the flight as a launch for a global initiative encouraging people to do something remarkable for the first time, according to the Irish Examiner.

O'Shea has completed previous expeditions with Lifeproof's Ice Project, crossing Lake Baikal in Russia and the ice caps of Patagonia and Kilimanjaro, as well as making two attempts to reach the North Pole. "I've achieved many things in my life, but this certainly ranks up there with the best of them," he told the Irish Examiner. "And the great thing is that I can also share it with anyone who wants to watch."

0 Comments

Ten-ton guarding pyramids offshore (left).     Photo: Mexico News Network/YouTube

World's Largest Artificial Reef Underway

Off Yucatan coast

More than 1,000 hollow 10-ton concrete pyramids will house some 13,450 marine species off the coast of Quintana Roo in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula when the world's largest artificial reef is finished. Called Kan-Kanán, "the Guarding Serpent" in Mayan, the structure will cover more than a mile of seafloor and protect the coast from natural erosion.

Engineers, environmentalists, architects, and divers have worked together on the project, which also includes this dramatic video:

0 Comments

Comments