January 30, 2015

Tracking sharks like Katharine (not pictured) has taught scientists that apex predators have patterned and not just random migration habits.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tagged Great White Tracks 10,700 Miles

'Katherine' covers Atlantic, informs migration research

Katharine, a 14-foot-long, 2,300-pound great white shark, has broken the 10,000-mile mark and is now off the coast of Cocoa Beach, Florida.

The research nonprofit Ocearch tagged the shark off the coast of Cape Cod in August 2013 and has been tracking her and a number of other white sharks since. Katharine’s path shows that not all white sharks migrate randomly, but rather purposefully—for food or mating or to seek more ideal temperatures—reports News 13.

“She’s basically a snowbird,” Greg Skomal, a scientist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, told USA Today. “My guess is that her migration is mitigated by water temperature, hence the seasonal pattern.”

Katharine’s 10,717-mile saga has garnered her an impressive social media fan base. Her Twitter account, @Shark_Katharine, has more than 18,000 followers. Each ping showing her location makes headlines across the Atlantic coast and gives scientists new information on the species’ unique migration patterns.

After her tagging, Katharine went south for the winter but surprised scientists by entering the Gulf of Mexico during the summer. Typically, water temperatures during summer are too warm for great whites.

“We are learning together as we look at these tracks,” Bob Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory, told USA Today. “We’ve thrown out everything we thought we knew about the species in the Atlantic.”

Read more about Ocearch in Outside’s February 2015 feature on the organization’s founder, Chris Fischer.

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Cedric Dumont performs during "Pyramids: Leap of Wonder" at the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt, on January 29.     Photo: Noah Bahnson/Red Bull Content Pool

WATCH: First-Ever Wingsuit Flight over Pyramids

Simon Dumont soars above pharaohs' tombs

Belgian BASE jumper Cedric Dumont got a unique view of an ancient wonder of the world with a wingsuit flight over Egypt’s pyramids on Thursday.

The 43-year-old is responsible for other memorable jumps, including a leap from the Royal Gorge Bridge in Cañon City, Colorado, and some of the lowest jumps ever attempted. (Lower jumps are more dangerous because there’s less time for the parachute to open.)

“This was one of my favorite jumps,” Dumont told Scoop Empire. “It’s in the top three, because of the visuals. It was insane, seeing the pyramids, and seeing them get bigger and bigger.”

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Under the new phase of the management plan, ranchers are allowed to shoot wolves that are caught chasing livestock and not just actively killing or injuring animals.     Photo: Oregon State University/Flickr

Eastern Oregon Eases Wolf-Killing Restrictions

Now 7 breeding pairs in the state

Eastern Oregon’s wolf population has reached another milestone, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is loosening restrictions on killing the animals to give ranchers more flexibility to protect their livestock, reports the Blue Mountain Eagle. The move could lead to removing wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

The ODFW counted at least four breeding pairs of wolves in the eastern third of the state in each of the past three years, meaning the agency will move into Phase II of its Wolf Management and Conservation Plan. There are nine wolf packs in Oregon, according to the Blue Mountain Eagle; last year, breeding pairs in seven of those packs produced at least two pups that survived to the end of the year.

Ranchers were allowed to shoot wolves under Phase I of the plan, but only if they caught a wolf biting, wounding, or killing their livestock. Phase II means that they can shoot wolves they find chasing their animals on their property, according to the ODFW’s statement. Ranchers are still not allowed to bait wolves, and they must report killing one within 24 hours and preserve the scene for investigation.

“We didn’t want the wolves to begin with,” Todd Nash, a Wallowa County rancher and chair of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association wolf committee, told the Blue Mountain Eagle. “We’re trying to get along as best we can in the political climate we live in.” Nash also said it’s highly unlikely for ranchers to catch wolves in the act, but it makes them feel more empowered than they were.

The ODFW can now also consider killing a wolf after two livestock predations regardless of when the predations took place. Phase I required four confirmed attacks within six months to warrant a kill.

Oregon’s wolf population at the end of 2013 was 64 (2014 numbers are not yet available). Though wolves are federally protected in western Oregon, eastern Oregon packs could be removed from the state’s endangered list.

Rob Klavins, northeast Oregon field coordinator for the conservation group Oregon Wild, told the Blue Mountain Eagle that initiation of Phase II is a good sign for the population’s recovery, even though it remains small. “We should look at the numbers in context and realize wolf recovery is moving in the right direction,” he told the Blue Mountain Eagle. “I think, at this point, killing wolves should still be an option of last resort.”

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Kenyan marathoner Rita Jeptoo tested positive for EPO in September 2014.     Photo: BU Interactive News/Flickr

Kenyan Marathoner Jeptoo Receives 2-Year Ban

Will prevent competition in 2016 Olympics

Rita Jeptoo, a former Chicago and Boston Marathon winner, has received a two-year ban from Athletics Kenya, the AP reports. Her ban has been backdated to September 25, 2014, and will extend through October 29, 2016, which will prevent her participation in the Rio Olympics, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“For now, the case of Rita has come to a rest and what remains now for us is to move on,” Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat told the AP. “We shall see how we shall work with the new anti-doping agency of Kenya in partnership to deal with the vice.”

It’s unclear which marathons Jeptoo ran will be voided due to doping violations, though should she choose to appeal her ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and lose, her 2014 Chicago Marathon victory on October 12 would be forfeited.

Jeptoo, also the 2014 Boston Marathon champ, was set to receive a $500,000 check for her title as the 2013–2014 World Marathon Majors (WMM) overall champion following the 2014 New York City Marathon. RunBlogRun.com broke news of her positive doping status days before the award, and the WMM issued a statement shortly thereafter, announcing suspension of the ceremony “until that determination has been made.”

In a statement Friday, WMM General Counsel Nick Bitel said, “We are aware of the positive A and B samples from Rita Jeptoo that were taken from out-of-competition testing in September 2014 that was funded by our organization in partnership with the IAAF. However until the appeals process has run its course, we are unable to confirm our women’s series winner.”

The WMM has already wiped Jeptoo from its 2013–2014 leaderboard.

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Training camps abroad help Russian athletes acclimatize to conditions like Rio de Janeiro's, but they'll be among the first to suffer from budget cuts.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Russian Team Scales Back Plans for 2016 Olympics

Sports ministry faces budget cuts

On Friday, Russia’s deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh said that athletes on the Russian Olympic team would be operating under a significantly reduced budget, according to USA Today.

Russian athletes had planned to train in Brazil in advance of the games to adjust to the tropical climate, but that has become largely unaffordable, Nagornykh said. The adjustment stands in stark contrast to the country’s investment in Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Games were held, and where spending approached $50 billion, according to the New York Times.

Following international trade sanctions placed in the wake of Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, the ruble has suffered a perilous rate of inflation, losing almost half its value against the U.S. dollar in the past 12 months. The country’s economy may shrink 3.2 percent in the first half of 2015, the Russian central bank said in a statement to Bloomberg.

Nagornykh said restrictions would force officials to make difficult choices when deciding how to distribute funding among various athletes and various sports, predicting that the sports ministry’s tighter belt would “test everyone’s professionalism.”

The good news, Nagornykh said, is that recent investments in sports facilities would help the ministry cut costs without sacrificing performance standards. “Thank God, in the last five to six years, we very seriously updated our arsenal of training bases,” he said.

Nagornykh’s remarks come on the same day that Valentin Balakhnichev, the Russian athletics federation president, said he would submit his resignation at a February board meeting, according to the New York Times. Balakhnichev made the announcement shortly after two of Russia’s most accomplished Olympians were banned from competition. The Russian anti-doping agency has concluded that Tatyana Chernova, a bronze medalist in the heptathlon, and Yulia Zaripova, a gold medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, were guilty of separate doping violations. If the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) reach the same conclusion, Zaripova may be stripped of the medal she won at the 2012 Summer Games in London.

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