image logo
Site Index | Subscribe | Shop | Search


After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.

How to Use XML or RSS


Listen to the free weekly National Geographic News podcast, featuring top science and nature headlines, entertaining interviews, and more!

New to podcasts?


Sign up for our free Inside National Geographic newsletter.

Every two weeks we'll send you our top stories and photos (see sample).

June 2002 Archive

For some beachgoers, fear of sharks is as much a part of the summer scene as suntan lotion. The reality is you're far more likely to be killed by lightning. The sharks, however, are besieged by the planet's most efficient predator—humans.

The harpy eagle once ranged from southeast Mexico to Argentina, but Panama's pristine rain forests are now among the few places where the fearsome predator has survived. Conservation efforts received a big boost in March when Panama's Legislative Assembly passed a decree naming the harpy eagle the country's national bird, offering much-needed legal clout.

Shark nets are being removed along South Africa's most popular holiday coastline to reduce the high toll they're taking on other forms of marine life, including harmless shark species. The country's leading anti-shark protection authority believes it can be done without unduly endangering bathers.

The landscape of Mount Everest has changed significantly since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first conquered the peak in 1953—and the biggest cause may be the warming global climate, according to researchers. The glacier that once came close to Hillary and Norgay's first camp has retreated three miles (five kilometers), for example.

A new National Geographic Channel documentary profiles three Colombians who are dedicated to improving the lives of children affected by years of armed conflict in the country. National Geographic News looks at the conflict between guerrilla and paramilitary groups that has uprooted society and displaced millions of Colombians.

Despite their prominent place in the food chain, surprisingly little is known about the reproduction of sharks. Researchers have taken advantage of a shark "nursery" in a Bahamas lagoon to catch, examine and release a large number of baby lemon sharks. The studies have revealed some of the breeding secrets of sharks.

Roaming Earth's tropical and subtropical waters, hammerhead sharks school in large groups around underwater mountains. Are they using the seamounts as "stepping stones" for migration? The answer could ultimately help marine conservation efforts.

Peter Benchley's Jaws in 1974 made people wonder whether it was safe to go into the water. In an interview with National Geographic News, Benchley discusses his new book, his changing knowledge of sharks, and society's ideas about these fascinating predators. Listen to Benchley read from his book and view a photo essay of sharks. This interview concludes a five-part series of articles on sharks.

This summer, a Supreme Court justice in Belize will decide the fate of the remote Macal River Valley, a pristine rain forest that is among the most ecologically diverse on the planet—home to one of the largest jaguar populations in Central America.

The U.S. federal government is summoning the world's top scientists to an urgent conference this summer to plan defenses against an attack that could wipe out an American city or disrupt the whole country's infrastructure. No, it's not global terrorism. The scientists will map ways to combat an asteroid attack.

Years of war in Afghanistan have taken a heavy toll not only on the country's people but also on its animals. An outpouring of international effort—and a remarkably dedicated local staff—has helped the Kabul Zoo begin recovering from Afghanistan's civil war and the turmoil of the Taliban regime.

Potatoes are grown by the hundreds of millions of tons each year in nearly 150 countries around the world, proving to be a staple in the world's diet. But in the Andes, the birthplace of the potato and home to nearly 4,000 different varieties, market forces, years of drought, and changes in cultural priorities are peeling away the diversity and significance of the potato to life in the Andes.

After nine months and 32,700 nautical miles, the German team illbruck Challenge has won the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race. The race pushed its participants to their limits as they battled towering seas, icebergs, and water spouts. The finish means mixed emotions—and a chance to do it all again in 2005.

Tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste could be shipped across the United States under a proposal to bury the nation's waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. A new interactive map produced by an environmental group enables visitors to find out how close they live to a potential waste transport route.

During June, as the nesting season of birds shifts into high gear across much of the United States and Canada, a small army of birders hits the road to conduct the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The data from more than 30 years of these surveys is a critical source of information about the state, regional, and continental population trends of about 500 species of North American birds.

"It was a tough trip, with a great finale," said Peter Hillary, now relaxing at home in New Zealand after reaching the summit of Mount Everest last month. He was part of an eight-person expedition that scaled the world's highest peak to mark the historic first ascent of the mountain by his father, Edmund Hillary, and Tenzing Norgay half a century ago.

In some parts of South Africa, lions have lost much of their habitat and their roaming grounds have been seriously constricted. The result: inbreeding. Today wildlife experts in some smaller reserves are using artificial insemination and vasectomies to boost the lion's gene pool.

The snow leopard, which roams the craggy, snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, is so elusive that it verges on legendary. Now, scientists have captured the mysterious animals on film. These new photos of this rare animal were released today.

Forensic experts, who often probe crime scenes for evidence of foul play, are now examining the well-preserved remains of the crew of the U.S. Civil War submarine Hunley. What kinds of clues will emerge from the analysis of the bones, teeth, and other artifacts?

It's true that male seahorses can't play catch with their children or help them with their homework. But these fascinating creatures do outdo human dads on one count: Male seahorses become pregnant and give birth to their offspring.

More than one billion people— approximately 20 percent of the world's population—now live in volcanic hazard zones, and the number is expected to rise. Figuring out how to reduce the hazards of volcanoes to people and property is a tough task for scientists and public officials.

A team of scientists says evidence from fossilized leaves indicates that dinosaurs appear to have become extinct as a result of the catastrophic impact of an asteroid and not volcanic activity.

Robots of all shapes and sizes kick off in an international soccer tournament this week with nearly 200 teams from 30 nations battling it out in a domed stadium in Fukuoka, Japan—not the World Cup but the 6th annual RoboCup.

Computer scientists are giving language lessons to mechanical robots, enabling them to speak and to respond appropriately to what they hear. Such language skills will be needed if robots are ever to reach their potential as humanoid helpers.

Researchers tracked down bellowing bassist fin whales in the Sea of Cortez, and concluded that the songs were breeding displays to "serenade" females because all the singers were male. The finding raises concerns that rising levels of ocean noise caused by commercial vessels and military sonar could interfere with these communications.

Shot, trapped, and poisoned for many decades, America's national bird was almost exterminated in the lower 48 states by 1963. Today, thanks to strong protection and public awareness, the bald eagle is again breeding in all but two states. But it remains threatened and its situation needs vigilance.

Scientists in Tanzania have photographed a rare species of small African predator for the first time, confirming the survival of a creature previously known only from a single skin collected in 1932. The Lowe's servaline genet is a relative of the mongoose family, and is about three feet (one meter) long including the tail.

Jason Carter spoke with National Geographic News about his experiences in rural South Africa on a Peace Corps project to reform the educational system in predominantly black areas. His two years in the Peace Corps are the subject of his new book, Power Lines: Two Years on South Africa's Borders.

Violence has resulted in virtually all foreign archaeological expeditions canceling this year's summer excavation season in Israel. In the West Bank and Gaza, meanwhile, archaeological conditions verge on desperate. The economic and security situation fuels looting by people who have no other way to make money.

Archaeologists working at a desert site in Jordan have excavated a large and very well-preserved copper factory from the Early Bronze Age. The discovery is providing insight into mass production of metal as the first urban cultures emerged.

A new report released today by the U.S. Education Department shows that average geography scores of the nation's fourth and eighth graders, while low, have improved from 1994. No overall changes were seen for 12th graders.

It's the summer solstice (winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere), and across the world the day has cultural significance. In Canada, the longest day is celebrated as National Aboriginal Day. In England and many other countries, pagans honor nature. For everyone, it is the beginning of summer or winter.

June is when thousands of prehistoric creatures emerge from the sea to mate and leave their green eggs on the sand. Then they disappear back into the ocean for ten months. Now a Maine scientist is tagging horseshoe crabs to learn their secrets.

Crittercam—an underwater camera that can be attached to an animal—has allowed scientists to get a whale's eye view of "bubblenet feeding." A new Crittercam film reveals how a group of humpback whales cooperate to surround fish with a net of bubbles, then eat their trapped prey.

Warmer summers and milder winters are encouraging disease-bearing infections that blight coral reefs, kill shellfish colonies, and threaten lions, cranes, vultures, and even ferrets, scientists report. Climate change is also helping to spread tropical diseases to human habitations previously unaffected by such illnesses.

Two new primates—house-cat-size, exotically sideburned Titi monkeys of the genus Callicebus—have been discovered in the vast rain forests of Central and South Central Amazonia. The new species not only enhance our understanding of primates but also indicate that Amazonia is brimming with flora and fauna yet to be discovered.

National Geographic and its partner have resumed a marine field study project in the Channel Islands that was tragically halted last September after two key organizers were killed in the U.S. terrorist attacks along with three pairs of D.C. teachers and students who were headed to the program on the West Coast.

An unusual and rarely flowering plant known as turkeybeard was found blooming profusely this spring on federal land in the Appalachian Mountains. Researchers attribute the situation to forest fires, in a case that underlines the importance of fires to the overall health of forest ecosystems.

Paintings done by elephants have been sold at the elite auction houses such as Christie's and shown in museums and galleries around the world. Now the rising stars in the elephant art world have their own dedicated art gallery on the Internet.

A six-person crew recently emerged from a fortnight stint in a two-story tin can—the Mars Desert Research Station—in the Utah desert, which, with its red, rocky, barren landscape, may be the next best thing to Mars itself.

Each year since 1991, shark specialists Jeff Carrier of Albion College (Michigan) and Harold "Wes" Pratt of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service have returned to the remote islands of the Florida Keys to study the mating habits of nurse sharks. The sharks return each year to an ancient shallow-water breeding ground, which affords a unique opportunity to study their behavior in the wild. This year, National Geographic is along for the ride, and contributing its Crittercam technology to the scientific expedition.

In many parts of the world where sewage treatment is lacking, raw human waste spills into the open sea. Now, research suggests that certain microbes in the human gut are responsible for two coral diseases that have devastated large patches of reef.

This article is the second in a series on Jeff Carrier and Harold "Wes" Pratt's ongoing study of shark breeding. The two shark specialists have studied nurse shark breeding and behavior at a remote Florida Keys nursery for 12 years. This year, a National Geographic scientist is participating in the study, attaching Crittercams to some of the sharks, allowing us to see the world from a shark's point of view.

Anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis has traveled and lived among the people of traditional cultures in many countries. National Geographic has just published a book of photographs and essays documenting some of these journeys. Here, Davis talks about his work and passions.

The National Geographic Society is making its debut in feature film production making with the July 19 release of the movie K-19: The Widowmaker. The film, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, is inspired by the true story of a narrowly averted nuclear submarine accident at the height of the Cold War, and the heroism of ordinary people when faced with impossible choices.

Filmmaker Kim Wolhuter followed a leopard for 18 months, recording intimate details of its life in a South African sanctuary. Working mostly at night, when the big cats are most active, Wolhuter documented rarely-seen behavior of the secretive predators. His film Stalking Leopards premieres June 30 on MSNBC.

This is the last article of a three-part series tracking the adventures of Jeff Carrier and Harold "Wes" Pratt as they continue their long-term study of shark breeding. The two shark specialists have studied nurse shark breeding and behavior at a remote Florida Keys nursery for 12 years. This year, a National Geographic scientist is participating in the study, attaching Crittercams to some of the sharks, allowing us to see the world from a shark's point of view. logo