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May 11, 2014: Capturing the Spirit of Adventure, Saving Sea Turtles and More

Carol Ruckdeschel is a self-taught turtle biologist who helped preserve Cumberland Island National Seashore. She was also known as "the wildest woman in America." (photo by Bates Littlehales/National Geographic
Carol Ruckdeschel is a self-taught turtle biologist who helped preserve Cumberland Island National Seashore. She was also known as “the wildest woman in America.” (photo by Bates Littlehales/National Geographic

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 on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1
- Adventurers who regularly push their limits of endurance and pain face large amounts of self doubt on their journeys. But Bruce Kirkby says that he would rather adapt his expectations of the expedition to meet the unanticipated difficulties, “rather than banging your head against the wall doing something that feels wrong.” But he also said that he’s undaunted by the physical pain that adventure brings. He reflects on the nature of adventure in his short film “The Questions We Ask” that features a 100-mile standup paddle from Vancouver to Victoria, British Columbia. Kirkby’s next adventure: living in a Buddhist monastery six months with his family.

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- Every internet search and purchase from online retailers teaches large companies like Google, Amazon and Target a little bit more about consumer behavior. Jennifer Golbeck, Director of University of Maryland’s Computer Interaction Lab, explains that based on the collective behaviors of millions of logged searches and purchases, the companies are increasingly adept at deciphering data to the point that they can identify pregnant women from the vitamins they buy, to estimating a person’s intelligence based on the Facebook pages they’ve “liked”. Golbeck says that they can do this, as well as piece together any other number of personal details, with alarming accuracy. She outlines the issues with data hoarding companies, and proposes a few consumer behaviors that can help the public control their data more tightly.

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- The Colorado River once flowed into Mexico’s Gulf of California through a rich delta that provided life to thousands of plants, birds, lizards, amphibians and people. But today, the delta is dry. But with the help of Sandra Postel, water may yet return to the sea. On a recent trip to watch water return to towns in Mexico that hadn’t seen the river in generations, (including one town named after the river), Postel notes that the river doesn’t just benefit wildlife and farmers. People of all ages celebrated the Colorado’s return with kites, music and a swim in a river that was very recently dry.

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- The words “traumatic” and “hypodermic” don’t generally leave humans feeling lovey dovey. But for many animals, their reproductive reality includes both. National Geographic explorer and biologist Nik Tatarnic explains “traumatic insemination,” the method by which the males of many insect species, including bed bugs and Tahitian plant bugs, “stab” the female in the side in order to fertilize the eggs. Tatarnic also points out that there is much confusion in the bed bug world, as they can’t tell the difference between a male and a female, which leads to same-sex mating, and occasional mating attempts with critters of another species.

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- National Geographic digital nomad returns to discuss his favorite travel destinations from last year, with some unexpected, and contested, results. Evans’ favorite bartender lives in Marfa, Texas; his best cafe is in Cape Town; his favorite hamburger is in Alberta; and his top breakfast was in Scotland. Boyd rejected Andrew’s favorite breakfast and nominatedNashville’s Loveless Motel as National Geographic Weekend’s new “favorite breakfast.”

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Hour 2
- Carol Ruckdeschel isn’t your typical role model: the roadkill eatin’, pistol totin’, whiskey drinkin’, backwoods livin’ naturalist has plenty of vices. But at the same time, she’s a self-educated sea turtle biologist who is as well respected as anybody on the planet for her understanding of the turtles and the threats they face on Cumberland Island, off Georgia’s coast. Will Harlan shares stories from his new book, Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island. Ruckdeschel also helped win the fight to create the island’s federal wilderness area to protect all of the island’s inhabitants.

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- Most adventurers who take on the world’s tallest mountains and biggest rapids preach preparedness in their expeditions. But Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa decided to tackle both with only a few weeks of preparation on borrowed equipment. David Costello, author of Flying Off Everest, tells the story of the audacious plan to paraglide from Everest’s summit and then paddle down the Ganges River to the Indian Ocean. They were named National Geographic’s People’s Choice Adventurers of the Year in 2012.

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- New York City seems to be about as far away conceptually from the wilds of Alaska’s protected national parks as possible. But National Geographic Emerging Explorer Daniel Raven Ellison explains that this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Ellison has created the Greater London National Park*, working to procure a national protection for the plants, animals and people who make their lives inside of Europe’s largest city. He hopes that people can reconnect with nature and, instead of thinking of it as a distant place far removed from the city, embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle in the place that people live and work everyday.

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- Deep inside of Utah’s deserts, everything looks similar in color: earthy reds, muddy and browns dominate the landscape. Nothing cries for the eye’s attention, but paleontologists are digging up thousands of fossils from a 20 million year old lost continent. National Geographic magazine’s Peter Miller, whose story about Utah’s unique fossilized bounty appears in the May 2014 issue, explains that the way the scientists are able to tell the difference between dirt and rock is by licking the potential bone. “If it’s bone, it sticks to the tongue,” he tells Boyd. Miller also tells Boyd about what’s so unique about the lost continent’s ancient reptiles.

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- In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares his wonder following a recent trip to Myanmar. He visited fishermen who fish by balancing on the end of their narrow dugout canoes and paddle the oar with their legs. His video helps illustrate the impressive balance that the fishermen use to net their fish.

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