Climate Change: Whiny Deer and Tagging Sharks How is climate change affecting Japan? Or the atoll of Palmyra, 1,000 miles south of Hawaii? During the summer, Madeleine Brand and Alex Chadwick took trips to destinations in the Pacific to see the effects of climate change first-hand. They give a quick preview of some of their upcoming stories.

Climate Change: Whiny Deer and Tagging Sharks

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(Soundbite of music)


NPR listener quiz. What is that oddly familiar music? What does it mean?


Well, it means it's the signature of our yearlong series on global warming with National Geographic. It's called Climate Connections and we're looking at how the climate affects people and how people affect the climate.

CHADWICK: And this is October, which means we are focusing on the Pacific region, and you, Madeleine, got to go to Japan.

BRAND: I did. And one of the themes of my trip was to look at Japanese attitudes toward nature. So I visited the ancient city of Nara. It was Japan's capital back in the year 710. And I went there to see these famous deer, these deer that are allowed to roam free in the middle of the park.

CHADWICK: The deer of Nara?

BRAND: The deer of Nara. And tourists like me that - well, we're allowed to feed them some rice crackers.

CHADWICK: That's very nice.

BRAND: It's very nice, yes. Here's a little snapshot of what I saw.

Some of these deer are making these strange sounds. Sounds like a baby crying. Listen to this.

(Soundbite of deer whining)

BRAND: I didn't know deer make that kind of noise.

(Soundbite of deer whining)

BRAND: All right. I just bought some - I bought some wafers to feed these deer and they come running up to you. And then they'll bow if you bow at them. Before they get a rice cracker, they'll bow back. They're so polite. Even the deer in Japan are polite. Oh, you're so sweet. Okay, are you bowing? Oh. Bow, bow, bow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Hello, hello, oh, hello. You're very, very hungry. Ow! He bit me! Ow. They're aggressive. Okay, here - here you go. Oh, I know, you're very cute, but not when you bite. Okay, all done. All done. No more.

CHADWICK: Here you are risking life and limb with the maddened wild deer of Nara.

BRAND: Alex, these things are man-eaters.

CHADWICK: Ah, well, you're certainly a very brave one, Madeleine, to undertake this journey.

BRAND: All I can say is beware of these so-called wild deer of Nara. But you, you had your own animal adventure.

CHADWICK: I did and I had my companion, producer Steve Proffitt along with me. We traveled to a little atoll. This is a spit of land about a thousand miles south of Hawaii. It's called Palmyra. It's about as isolated and pristine as any place on Earth, and that happens to make it a very good place to study climate change. So we're going to have a series of reports from there later this month.

We had an encounter there. I want to play this for you because you have this little deer treat for me. We had an encounter with an animal that I think is a little more wild than the deer of Nara.

(Soundbite of recording)

Unidentified Man #1: Here comes one. Here comes one right for you. You got him. You got him.

CHADWICK: Okay. The him here, Madeleine, is not a deer. It is a shark. We were out fishing for sharks.

BRAND: Fishing for sharks.

CHADWICK: Because you have to put these - scientists want to put these little tags in them that will monitor where the sharks go and what happens to them, ocean temperature, that kind of thing, very useful for learning about the climate.

Unidentified Man #2: Hey, Yani.

CHADWICK: So that's Yani Papasamatu(ph). He's one of the shark researchers, a post-grad student at the University of Hawaii. And once they have the shark tethered to the boat, they turn it over to Yani and he pulls out a scalpel.

(Soundbite of recording)

CHADWICK: They have these little tags, these little instruments. They insert them into the belly of the shark. It's about the size of disposable cigarette lighter, and Yani then - he puts in a couple of stitches. They turn the shark over and they let go.

(Soundbite of beeping)

CHADWICK: And that little beep that you hear, that's the sound produced by the tag.

BRAND: Wow. So Alex, you were right there. Did anyone get hurt?

CHADWICK: Well, I didn't get bitten on that day at least, so better that you with the deer.

BRAND: Yeah.

CHADWICK: We're going to have a full series of reports from Palmyra later this month. For now, it's all about you and Japan.

BRAND: That's right. And later in the show we will hunt for jellyfish in the kitchen. These jellyfish are getting bigger and bigger because of climate change and pollution.

For more on the Climate Connection series, you can visit our Web site

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