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May 12, 2013: Meeting Giant Squid at Depth, Hang Gliding World Records and More

Until recently, we had to rely on illustrations for images of giant squid at depth. But Ocean Research & Conservation Association's Edie Widder changed that. She tells Boyd about how she set a trap to capture a giant squid on camera. (Nicole Holovinsky/National Geographic My Shot)
Until recently, we had to rely on illustrations for images of giant squid at depth. But Ocean Research & Conservation Association’s Edie Widder changed that. She tells Boyd about how she set a trap to capture a giant squid on camera. (Nicole Holovinsky/National Geographic My Shot)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend, or pick your favorite segments and listen now below!

Episode: 1319 – Air Date: May 12

HOUR 1

Professional climbers often have one specialty that they prefer to do over others: for Emily Harrington, she’s a wall-climber. She feels most at home making her way up a sheer cliff, using her finger tips to hold onto the smallest of cracks in the stone. But when she was given the opportunity to climb Everest, it was something she couldn’t pass up. She tells Boyd that she didn’t experience much elation on the summit because she knew that she still had to safely get off the mountain.

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Since shedding its apartheid name and identity, the country formerly known as Rhodesia has seen its share of misery. Zimbabwe has plunged into poverty and a cycle of violence perpetuated by its current president Robert Mugabe. Alexandra Fuller tells Boyd that Mugabe’s influence over the country could stay long after the 89-year old leaves power because of how personally he’s impacted so many Zimbabweans. She documents the difficulties of life in Zimbabwe in the May 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine.

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Throughout the Middle Ages, there was a tradition of documenting and collecting the oddities of the animal world in books called “bestiaries”. Author Michael Largo took it upon himself to create a bestiary for the 21st Century, in his book, The Big, Bad Book of Beasts. The book includes facts on strange animals both real (aardvark) and fantasy (jackalopes).

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Growing up in Los Angeles’ South Central neighborhood doesn’t make National Geographic Emerging Exlporer Juan Martinez a likely candidate to become an advocate for National Parks and the outdoors, but he was inspired by jalapeno peppers. An after school program that taught him how to garden left him with a thirst for getting out of the city and spending time in the wilderness. He tells Boyd about his path through life to this upcoming weekend, working with kids at National Geographic’s BioBlitz in Louisiana’s Jean Lafitte National Historic Park.

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David Braun, editor of National Geographic’s Daily News, tells Boyd that the human family tree may recently have been shaken up with the discovery of a new possible human ancestor.

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HOUR 2

Centuries of sailors’ stories about tentacled deep sea predators attacking ships haunting the dreams of coastal landlubbers have been intermittently fed by giant squid washing dead up on beaches. But it wasn’t until very recently has this creature with monster-like proportions been witnessed live, at depth. Dr. Edie Widder, Senior Scientist at the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, came up with a novel way to lure the giant squid: use a bioluminescent lure to mimic the squid’s prey.

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Competitive athletes don’t often work with their primary rival for their mutual benefit. But in a sport where man is pitted against physics just as much as his chief rival like hang gliding, a little mutual cooperation can go a long way to snub gravity. Dustin Martin flew 475 miles over Texas, spending nearly 11 hours underneath his wind-powered wing, just three miles farther than his chief competitor, with whom he had spent the majority of the day playing leap-frog for the record.

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Brett Rogers is a river-enthusiast. He has spent time traveling up and down bodies of water from the Yukon River, to the Mississippi and, now, the Ganges. In his visit to the spiritual center for the Hindu faith, he observed that because the river is polluted because it is the subject of such veneration.

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Many animals have traits that appear to be similar, but may be distantly related, if at all. Dogs and hyenas, for example, evolved powerful bone-crushing jaws, but they appeared on the planet in different places, millions of years apart. Jack Tseng, an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, explains this phenomenon, known as convergent evolution, to Boyd.

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In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd discusses some longterm financial management techniques that involve spending hours at the county fair.

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