Writers and photographers are available for interviews April 15-May 14 (see specifics below).
A MOUNTAIN TRANSFORMED (cover story), by McKenzie Funk, photographed by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel (Page 34) In May 1980, Washington’s Mount St. Helens erupted, sending more than 3 billion cubic yards of mud, ash and melting snow into nearby Spirit Lake, wiping away virtually all evidence of human and animal life. Three decades later, rainbow trout twice the length of pre-eruption trout symbolize the rebirth of a collapsed ecosystem in the lake and on the mountain. Author McKenzie Funk writes of the accelerated renewal of Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake, due to some species being able to survive the blast because of protection by snow cover, topography — or luck. Photographers Diane Cook and Len Jenshel capture a landscape that has gone from gray to green as life returns. Funk, Cook and Lenshel are available for interviews.
TROUBLED SPIRITS, by Alma Guillermoprieto, photographed by Shaul Schwartz (Page 54) Mexico, a country plagued by drought, a recent outbreak of swine fl u, a collapse of tourism, an economic meltdown and above all, a violent drug trade, could use a little hope. Author Alma Guillermoprieto reports on the otherworldly figures that Mexicans have been turning to, including La Santa Muerte (Holy Death), a supernatural being believed to protect sinners without judgment, who has attracted a cult-like following of criminals and everyday people. Photographer Shaul Schwartz documents how La Santa Muerte and other figures are affecting life in Mexico, bringing hope in very unusual ways. Guillermoprieto and Schwartz are available for interviews.
THE SECRETS OF SLEEP, by D.T. Max, photographed by Maggie Steber (Page 74) From birth, we spend a third of our lives asleep. After decades of research, scientists still aren’t sure why we sleep — or don’t sleep — but do know our bodies miss it when we don’t get it. Studies suggest sleep may be linked to memory, the immune system and a means of controlling infection, but mostly, sleep remains a mystery. With 50 million to 75 million Americans complaining about problems sleeping, and nearly 20 percent of all serious motor vehicle accidents being associated with driver sleepiness, author D.T. Max questions why sleep has gone vastly unexplored, with the National Institutes of Health only dedicating $230 million a year to sleep research. Photographer Maggie Steber captures one of the most basic — and most complex — of life’s necessities. The National Geographic Channel special “Explorer: Fatal Insomnia,” premiering April 27 at 10 p.m., looks into the science of sleep to understand fatal familial insomnia, a rare genetic disease. Max is available for interviews.
CHINA’S TEA HORSE ROAD, by Mark Jenkins, photographed by Michael Yamashita (Page 94) Much of China’s thousand-year-old Tea Horse Road — until 60 years ago a thoroughfare of commerce and the main link between China and Tibet — is gone today, wiped out by time, weather and invasive plants. The divots in vestigial cobblestones left by metal-spiked crutches are evidence of the hundreds of thousands of porters who used the trail for a millennium, trading tea and horses. The ancient passageway once stretched almost 1,400 miles across Cathay, from Yaan, in the tea-growing region of Sichuan Province, to Lhasa, the almost-12,000-foot-high capital of Tibet. Writer Mark Jenkins sets out to find what remains of the once famous, but now almost forgotten, route, even traveling with Tibetan cowboys on motorcycles along the way, as photographer Michael Yamashita provides a window to how Tea Horse Road has translated into modern-day life. Jenkins and Yamashita are available for interviews.
EUROPE’S WILD SIDE, (Page 120) Sixty-nine photographers traveled to 46 countries in 15 months in an effort to change the way people see Europe. Instead of the usual cityscapes, they would show the continent’s wild side: a Eurasian brown bear play-fi ghting with his mother, France’s Mount Blanc refl ecting off a glacial lake, a young loggerhead cruising the Atlantic waters and male gray seals fi ghting over a female. The project, supported by members of the National Geographic Society through a grant from its Mission Programs, celebrates the wildlife and wild places that are becoming a more vital part of the European experience.
A LIFELINE FOR THE IBERIAN LYNX, photographed by Pete Oxford and Reneé Bish (Page 134) The Iberian lynx has roamed Mediterranean lands for a million years, becoming an icon of Spain and Portugal. Yet with hunters, road kills, habitat loss and dietary reliance on an unstable rabbit population, only about 225 lynx are left, a number far too low for long-term survival. Photographers Pete Oxford and Reneé Bish document these elusive animals whose only hope may be the conservation groups working to save them.
May’s Departments section looks at a treasure chest of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver; bones that suggest a killer-whale-sized creature with 5-inch-long teeth lived in ancient Nevada; the world’s secretive tax havens; a spider that spins 3-foot-long golden orbs; and the world’s soda addiction.
National Geographic magazine has a long tradition of combining on-the-ground reporting with award-winning photography to inform people about life on our planet. It has won eight National Magazine Awards in the past four years: two inaugural Digital Media Awards in 2010 for Best Photography and Best Community; for Photojournalism in 2009; for General Excellence, Photojournalism and Reporting in 2008; and for General Excellence and Photography in 2007.
The magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s largest nonprofit educational and scientific organizations. Published in English and 32 local-language editions, the magazine has a global circulation of around 8 million. It is sent each month to National Geographic members and is available on newsstands for $5.99 a copy. Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call for membership in the Society.