March 17, 2013: Getting Married at the North Pole, Cage-Free Swimming With Great Whites and More

A great white shark bites into bait off Neptune Island, Australia. Photo by Christopher Stratton / 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: 1311 – Air Date: March 17, 2013


Despite the fact that National Geographic Explorer Børge Ousland has skied to the North Pole and traversed Antarctica alone, he may become best known as the explorer who got married at the North Pole. Still, he says his toughest expedition was his 62-day winter ski from Russia to the North Pole in nearly total darkness. In order to traverse the open expanses of ocean and cracks in the ice, he developed a dry suit that would enable him to jump into the water and swim across parts of open ocean. Listen here.

Great white sharks are portrayed as the perfect ocean killing machines. They’re goaded into frenzies by cage diving companies for the enjoyment (and fear) of their clients. But shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey says that they’re not always on the prowl for a meal. She became famous for a video of her trailing from a great white shark’s dorsal fin in an attempt to show that the sharks are often just trying to swim. While she doesn’t advise testing it yourself, she says sharks are often just as leery of meeting us in the ocean as we are of them. Listen here.

Photography can be used to present the world in ways the human eye cannot naturally perceive it to be. In the March issue of National Graphic magazine, Diane Cook and Len Jenshel went into gardens that would be colorful during the day, and photographed them in the usually colorless night. They explain that the world at night only appears to be less colorful because the cones in our retina “which perceive color, need a fair bit of light to function.” Cameras are able to capture more of the light that is naturally present and reveal a technicolor after-hours world. Listen here.

Skiing is an opportunity to get outside and feel at one with nature, even when the temperatures dip well below freezing. But crowds on the slopes and the infrastructure of a large ski resort can leave skiers feeling closer to a major city than a winter wonderland. For that reason, many relish helicopter skiing. There aren’t lines, there aren’t ropes denying access to terrain, and there is no ski patrol to bail skiers out when they make a mistake. Rob Turner is a helicopter skiing guide at Mica Heli, outside of Revelstoke, British Columbia. His job is to make sure that the few skiers on the mountain avoid avalanches and return home safe. He tells Boyd about the pleasures, and the dangers, of back country skiing.  Listen here.

David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, recommends that people not tempt their dogs by leaving food unattended. The animals have evolved to understand when people are watching and when they’re best able to snag food from a coffee table unseen.  Listen here.


India’s Ganges River is renowned as the spiritual source of life for 400 million people. But it also serves as the sewer, washing machine, and bath tub for many of those people as well. J.J. Kelley returns to National Geographic Weekend to chat about his new movie, Go Ganges!, which documents his experiences following the river from its source high in the Himalayas, 1,500 miles to its outlet in the Bay of Bengal. J.J. and his friends rode in a rickshaw, paddled on the river, and even performed a nasal floss, a local tradition to cleanse their nasal cavities. Listen here.

As National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans‘ job is to travel as much as a human can, while constantly staying in contact through blog postsTwitter and Facebook. He takes this duty so seriously that he lugged a computer up Mount Kilimanjaro and negotiated access to car batteries in order to charge it. During his most recent visit to Africa, he visited “only ten” of Tanzania’s 16 national parks, but Mahale Mountains National Park chimpanzee reserve remains as one of Andrew’s most treasured memories from the trip. Listen here.

Naturalist and artist James Prosek confesses to Boyd that he has a lifelong fascination with trout. He has pulled the fish from rivers around the world and says that their ability to adapt very quickly to new conditions make them fascinating to study, but also frustrating for those trying to peg them into a tidy evolutionary box. The fish have been isolated by ice ages and hybridized over the years, developing a broad array of colors. Prosek displays these colors in watercolor in his new book, Trout of the World. In it he captures the trout’s natural beauty and evolutionary differences in eye-catching detail. Listen here.

Japan is an island country with a rich history of subsisting from the bounty provided by the ocean. Fish, sharks, and whales have all been eaten historically in Japan, but lately the popularity of eating shark and whale has waned. IFAW’s whales program directorPatrick Ramage, tells Boyd that the country’s government insists on its right to harvest whale for market even though the majority of Japanese citizens prefer not to eat the meat, leaving much it to go to waste. Listen here.

In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd jumps into the ocean with a ball of shark bait and holds on in order to test the abilities of electronic shark repellent. The sharks went into a frenzy, but fortunately, showed no interest in eating Boyd. Listen here.


Meet the Author
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.