October 9, 2013

Protesters have responded with outrage to plans for a marine park next to the bloody waters of a dolphin-slaughtering bay in Taiji.     Photo: eZeePics Studio/Shutterstock

Town Lets Visitors Swim with, Eat Dolphins

Subject of scathing 2009 documentary

The Japanese town made infamous by the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove as the site of annual dolphin slaughters is planning to open a marine park next to Hatakejiri Bay, where dolphins are corralled and killed. The park will allow customers to swim or kayak alongside dolphins and small whales—and eat them afterward.

Officials of the town, Taiji, announced in the face of ongoing protests that they will not end the yearly killing of thousands of dolphins. Rather, they plan to string a net at the entrance of Moriura Bay to enclose roughly 69 acres as a Discovery Cove-like tourist attraction.

"This is part of Taiji’s long-term plan of making the whole town a park, where you can enjoy watching marine mammals while tasting various marine products, including whale and dolphin meat,” Masaki Wada, a town official, told The Japan Times.

Far from conceding to activist pressure after the graphic documentary The Cove showed audiences the slaughters up-close in 2009, Taiji hopes customer interaction with marine life will promote the distribution of whale- and dolphin-derived products.

“The whole plan is based on the concept that they can exploit dolphins and whales freely as their resource," says Nanami Kurasawa, the secretary general of Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network, "but the mammals don’t belong to Taiji.”

In 2012, town fishermen caught 1,277 dolphins, continuing a 400-year-old tradition of dolphin hunting. This season they are licensed to capture 2,026. At this rate, Taiji hopes to open the park within five years.

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Death Valley, California.     Photo: kavram/Shutterstock

Badwater: Behind the Scenes

New documentary profiles 2013 ultramarathon

If you’ve ever considered running the “the world’s toughest footrace”—or if you just need some running inspiration—check out AT&T U-verse Sport’s new three-episode series about the 2013 Badwater 135 Ultramarathon.

"It's extremely well done and we are very pleased," Badwater said on its Facebook page.

The documentary explores the history of the race and follows six runners as they attempt to run 135 miles from Death Valley to Mount Whitney—in July. “Marathon Man” Dean Karnazes is featured; others include Shannon Farar-Griefer, Karsten Solheim, Oswaldo Lopez, Oz Pearlman, and Parvaneh Moayedi.

Episodes are available online for free, and are approximately 30 minutes each. 

Badwater Ultramarathon: Part 1

Badwater Ultramarathon: Part 2

Badwater Ultramarathon: Part 3—coming soon.

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THe M/V American Tern being led by the Russian icebreaker Krasin to McMurdo Station during Operation Deep Freeze 2006. Mount Erebus can be seen in the background.     Photo: Kappa Pi SIgma/Wikimedia

Shutdown Hits Antarctic Research

U.S. Program in 'caretaker status'

The ripple effect from the government shutdown in Washington D.C. is now being felt more than 9,900 miles away at the South Pole. 

The U.S. Antarctic Program effectively announced that research trips to Antartica have been canceled until further notice. On October 14, funds for this program will run dry until a federal budget is approved by Congress. As of Monday morning, ships and research stations used by scientists throughout the U.S. will go on "caretaker status." Icebreakers and airplanes will only be running food, fuel, and supplies for those already at the three research stations, which are staffed year-round. But future trips to the icey Antartic are currently on haitus and possible scuttled, National Public Radio reports.

"In Antarctica the planning is so intense. I mean, we're scheduling Department of Defense aircraft and icebreakers," John Priscu, a Montana State University biologist with about 30 trips to Antarctica, told NPR. "The planning goes on years ahead. I don't think you can just throw a switch and say, 'OK, we're better now.'"

The announcement couldn't come at a worst time for U.S. scientists since the research season in Antartica starts in October and last through February, when its summer on the icy continent. Lapses in research can jeopardize decades of work, and studies in antartic biology, astrophysic and climate change could be affected.

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Grand Canyon National Park     Photo: StuSeeger/Flickr

Citations Issued at Grand Canyon

21 people tagged during shutdown

Twenty-one people were issued citations on Monday for entering Grand Canyon National Park during the government shutdown. Grand Canyon Chief Ranger Bill Right explained that people have been caught on several different trails and are attempting to sneak in on dirt roads throughout the park, reports the Washington Post.

Law enforcement will now be in charge of patrolling the park throughout the day as most other park employees have been furloughed. Grand Canyon officials have closed a state highway that runs through the park after discovering that tourists had removed barricades to access overlooks along the road.

According to the Washington Post each of the twenty-one citations issued includes a mandatory order to appear in federal court.

(Video: Awesome time-lapse footage of Grand Canyon National Park)

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Hot-air ballooning is New Mexico's state sport.     Photo: Steve Bower/Shutterstock

United Sports of America

What's your state sport?

If every state had an official sport, what would they be?

That’s the question Slate’s executive editor Josh Levin set out to answer in a hilarious interactive illustrated map of the U.S. Along the way, he implemented a few rules:

- No two states can have the same sport

- Sports can be atomized (Kentucky, for example, was assigned men’s college basketball; Tennessee has women's college basketball; Utah was given church basketball)

- A sport can be anything that is plausibly a sport (this is how Ohio got cornhole)

- Official state sports will be honored if possible (but only one of the three states that officially endorses rodeo will get it—that’d be South Dakota. Sorry, Texas and Wyoming)

Do you agree? What did he miss?

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