This week on National Geographic Weekend join host Boyd Matson as we expose the greed and blood of the ivory trade, surf the rivers of Idaho, investigate increasingly commonplace extreme weather conditions, conserve the ocean biodiversity by eating, evade invasive pythons in Florida's Everglades, dive 60 feet below the sea to the Aquarius Underwater Station, dance with walruses, rappel a mile underground into Earth's deepest cave, and get schooled by Chinese youth in ping-pong.

 

HOUR 1

 

 

       At least 25,000 elephants were killed this past year. In the worst period of elephant killing in over a decade, Bryan Christy writes about how the ivory trade has exploded in recent years and how—despite the highest amount of ivory seizures in years—it continues unabated. Although substitutes have been made for all of ivory's practical uses, the use of ivory in religious objects persists. Currently, the ivory supplying the Buddhist jewelry industry in China produces 15 billion dollars a year, and is rising by 50 percent annually. These figures do not account for Catholic, Muslim, and other religions' uses of ivory in religious paraphernalia. 


       Chris Peterson spent most of his youth in the ocean. Growing up in Oahu, surfing defined who he was and what he stood for. After suffering tragedy, Peterson abandoned surfing and hasn't been back to the ocean in six years. He surfs again, however, finding solace and strength, this time on the rivers of Idaho. 


       Tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and massive heat waves. In recent years extreme weather has wreaked havoc upon communities all over the world. Everyone is noticing the change, and everyone is asking the same question: What's up with the weather? The cause of it all, says Peter Miller, is probably us. Since 1970, the Earth's temperature has increased one degree, a significant enough change to cause frequently higher average temperatures and more unpredictable weather patterns. 


       Barton Seaver, a National Geographic fellow and chef, is all about eating locally and seasonally. According to Seaver, "There's a time and a place for things." A fresh, great-tasting peach is only right in the warm summer months, while in season. That being said, he encourages people not to be "caged in by this philosophy." Frozen foods, despite the stigma that many people have for them, are often frozen at peak ripeness to preserve all of their nutrients. These are affordable, and healthy to have during the off-season months. As Boyd so elegantly says: "Eat it fresh in season, eat it frozen out of season." 


       David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, tells Boyd about a recently caught wild Burmese python almost 18 feet long that contained a special surprise: 87 babies! 

 

HOUR 2

 

 

       Ever dreamed of living underwater? Sylvia Earle, National Geographic explorer-in-residence, spent a week living beneath the sea at the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory. Aquarius is a huge cylindrical tank with various rooms sitting 60 feet underwater that was designed for extended underwater reef research. Now part of the reef itself off Key Largo, this station is critical to conserving the world's reefs, which are now half gone. Unfortunately, the future of Aquarius is in question, as the federal government has ceased funding. Earle explains her experience and how important it is to keep Aquarius in operation. 


       From the Norwegian Arctic, Boyd meets with Elyse Lockton to talk about walruses. Not the most attractive of Earth's creatures, the blubbery, scruffy-faced marine mammals are highly specialized hunters of bivalves (clams, mussels). Lockton describes their complex feeding habits and "touchy-feely" social interactions. Although the polar bear is the poster child for the disappearing Arctic, Lockton points out that the walrus is also in significant danger from climate change. 


       Although many humans have spent their time and effort reaching peaks and summits over a mile above the Earth, Ieva Keirate went the opposite way, heading over a mile underground in one of the deepest caves on Earth. In total, Keirate and her team spent seven days underground, camping, eating, and living within the cave. Moving through it required climbing, hiking, and rappelling. Along the way, Keirate collected microbiological samples to evaluate humans' impact on the cave's ecosystem. Described as the Everest of caves for cavers, there are often people traveling within it and setting up camps and as a result are negatively affecting the underground ecosystem of the cave. 


       After dominating his opponents with ease at ping-pong in college, Christopher Beam thought he would continue winning when he moved to China. Enrolling in a ping-pong academy, the top of its kind, he was totally unaware of the skill and seriousness of the sport within China. He was never prepared for the humiliation he would receive at the hands of China's youth. 


       In this week's Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd describes his personal experiences with wild African elephants and talks about humans' wanton destruction of them for mere jewelry. 

 

This week on National Geographic Weekend host Boyd Matson speaks with guests about the human brain, a potential sinking island, the Environmental Film Festival, why pigs shouldn’t go fishing, drinking beer in space, photographing ferocious rats, using smartphones as tools for wildlife exploration, swimming with sharks off Easter Island, preparing for the consequences of climate change, and close encounters with a sperm whale.

HOUR 1

• Neuroscientist Jacopo Annese carries with him a suitcase full of brains, specifically, thin slices of human and dolphin brains. He joins Boyd in the studio to talk about one of the most famous brains ever studied: that of Henry Molaison, whose memory was damaged after he underwent brain surgery to treat epilepsy in 1953. (The Brain Observatory—UC San Diego)

• Due to rising sea levels, the Maldives are in danger of sinking, according to President Mohamed Nasheed, who recently put on his scuba gear and held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the issue. As Costas Christ reports in the March issue of National Geographic Traveler, Nasheed hopes to make the Maldives the world’s first carbon-neutral country to help offset the problems associated with climate change. (Read Christ's Article)

Flo Stone is the president and founder of the Environmental Film Festival, an annual celebration of nature held in the nation’s capitol from March 15 to March 27. Several films from the festival will be screened at National Geographic Society headquarters and will showcase the work of scientific luminaries such as E.O. Wilson, Sylvia Earle and George Schaller. (Get the Schedule)

• National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver is a renowned chef and sustainable seafood advocate. Seaver joins Boyd in the studio to talk about menhaden, a special species of fish, and why pigs shouldn’t go fishing. (Cook-Wise)

• National Geographic's daily online news editor David Braun shares some of the week’s hottest stories, including the creation of the world’s first “space beer.” (National Geographic News)

HOUR 2

• Comedian W.C. Fields is credited with the line “Never work with children or animals.” But while photographing images for “Taming the Wild,” an article in the March issue of National Geographic magazine, photographer Vincent J. Musi had to sweet talk rats and cuddle a pig. Musi joins Boyd to talk about his difficulties capturing these critters on film. (See Musi's Pictures)

• Project Noah, a new smartphone application created by Yasser Ansari, allows users to transform their smartphones into a modern day Noah’s Ark by documenting their wildlife explorations and connecting with other “citizen scientists” around the globe. (Get the App)

• National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala is on an expedition near Salas y Gómez Island, a rocky speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean located 200 miles east of Easter Island. Sala and a team of scientists are surveying the waters of a new marine park and studying what lies beneath these largely unexplored waters. Producer Benjamin Shaw caught up with Sala via satellite to chat about his explorations. (Read About the Expedition)

Mike Tidwell is the executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Although he is dedicated to raising awareness about climate change, Tidwell is not convinced that local or national governments are ready to tackle the problem. As a result, he’s taking matters into his own hands. Tidwell explains why climate change is now personal matter for him! (Washington Post Article)

Boyd explains why swimming with humpback whales convinced him to drop a few pounds.

Listen to National Geographic Weekend

Episode 1110—Air Date: March 5, 2011

  • 00:11:00 Jacopo Annese

    Neuroscientist Jacopo Annese carries with him a suitcase full of brains, specifically, thin slices of human and dolphin brains. He joins Boyd in the studio to talk about one of the most famous brains ever studied: that of Henry Molaison, whose memory was damaged after he underwent brain surgery to treat epilepsy in 1953.

  • 00:09:00 Costas Christ

    Due to rising sea levels, the Maldives are in danger of sinking, according to President Mohamed Nasheed, who recently put on his scuba gear and held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the issue. As Costas Christ reports in the March issue of National Geographic Traveler, Nasheed hopes to make the Maldives the world’s first carbon-neutral country to help offset the problems associated with climate change.

  • 00:06:00 Flo Stone

    Flo Stone is the president and founder of the Environmental Film Festival, an annual celebration of nature held in the nation’s capitol from March 15 to March 27. Several films from the festival will be screened at National Geographic Society headquarters and will showcase the work of scientific luminaries such as E.O. Wilson, Sylvia Earle and George Schaller.

  • 00:08:00 Barton Seaver

    National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver is a renowned chef and sustainable seafood advocate. Seaver joins Boyd in the studio to talk about menhaden, a special species of fish, and why pigs shouldn’t go fishing.

  • National Geographic's daily online news editor David Braun shares some of the week’s hottest stories, including the creation of the world’s first “space beer.”

  • 00:11:00 Vincent Musi

    Comedian W.C. Fields is credited with the line “Never work with children or animals.” But while photographing images for “Taming the Wild,” an article in the March issue of National Geographic magazine, photographer Vincent J. Musi had to sweet talk rats and cuddle a pig. Musi joins Boyd to talk about his difficulties capturing these critters on film.

  • 00:09:00 Yasser Ansari

    Project Noah, a new smartphone application created by Yasser Ansari, allows users to transform their smartphones into a modern day Noah’s Ark by documenting their wildlife explorations and connecting with other “citizen scientists” around the globe.

  • 00:06;00 Enric Sala

    National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala is on an expedition to Salas y Gómez Island, a rocky speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean located 200 miles east of Easter Island. Sala and a team of scientists are surveying the waters of a new marine park and studying what lies beneath these largely unexplored waters. Producer Benjamin Shaw caught up with Sala via satellite to chat about his explorations.

  • 00:08:00 Mike Tidwell

    Mike Tidwell is the executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Although he is dedicated to raising awareness about climate change, Tidwell is not convinced that local or national governments are ready to tackle the problem. As a result, he’s taking matters into his own hands. Tidwell explains why climate change is now personal matter for him!

  • Boyd explains why swimming with humpback whales convinced him to drop a few pounds.