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EXPLORATIONS – A Lindblad Expeditions Blog

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National Geographic Explorer Makes History in Harlingen

On Tuesday the 148-guest National Geographic Explorer once again made history when it became the first passenger vessel to call at Harlingen in the Netherlands. A large crowd of onlookers and the mayor, Roel Sluiter, turned out to watch the ship arrive and greet Captain Ben Lyons. He was presented with a port of call placard to commemorate the first visit by an expedition ship in the medieval port. About two-thirds of our guests chose to enter the town by Zodiac and explore its historic canals, while those who stayed aboard were met by a local news crew. See the footage here (the action starts at about 2:00 with the local pilot coming aboard Explorer).

Mysterious “Ocean Quack” Solved

For five decades scientists and submariners have reported odd quacking sounds in the Southern Ocean, nicknaming the phenomenon “the bio-duck.” New recordings created by NOAA researchers have attributed the sound to minke whales. The researchers say they’ll be able to use this knowledge to help track the migrations of the minkes, of which little is known, though our guests have found them to be curious enough to approach our Zodiacs around the Antarctic Peninsula. See the BBC story on minke vocalizations, and if you’d like to hear them for yourself, join us in Antarctica next season.

Journey of Giants, Exhibit in Mexico City & Miami

The Journey of Giants (“Ruta de Gigantes”) is an exhibition that features a series of large format photographs and videos telling the story of whales and their annual migrations from places like Alaska to Baja California, Panama, and more. Initially installed along a busy foot-trafficked avenue in Mexico City, the exhibit was adapted for the halls of the Miami International Airport. For the next six months it will share the story of sustainable whale tourism to travelers passing through Miami Airport’s South Terminal. Directed by Alejandro Balaguer (Albatros Media Foundation), the bilingual exhibition is sponsored in part by Lindblad Expeditions. Additional funding comes from Copa Airlines, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature), Ecosolar, and Intinetwork.

Next time you find yourself in the Miami airport bound for – or returning from – a new adventure, we hope you’ll discover a bit of inspiration as you transit through the South Terminal. And, if your travels don’t take you to Miami, catch a glimpse of the video exhibition.

Welcome Aboard Teachers!

Meet the Grosvenor Teacher Fellows for 2014! From a pool of 1,300, these 25 Fellows were selected to travel in groups of 2 and 3 aboard National Geographic Explorer in Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland, the Canadian High Arctic, the Canadian Maritimes, and Antarctica. Thanks to generous support from Fund for Teachers, Google, and individual donors, we were able to more than double the size of the program from last year. These K-12 educators will enhance their geographic learning through direct, hands-on field experience and bring that knowledge back to their classrooms and communities.

Welcome Aboard National Geographic Orion

Under bright blue skies on Friday in Auckland we inaugurated the newest ship in the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet, the National Geographic Orion. Jeremy Lindblad, Captain Mike Taylor, and underwater filmmaking legend Valerie Taylor shared a few words from the bow of the ship, as guests watched with champagne in hand on the quayside. Valerie tossed the champagne bottle, as we all snapped our photos and raised our glasses for a toast to the National Geographic Orion and all who sail on her.

Our inaugural expedition is underway right now. You can see the photos and read the reports online.

 

So, What’s Sven-Olof Lindblad Up To?

Are you on Instagram? Follow Sven-Olof Lindblad. Today he’s in Reykjavik, Iceland attending the first Arctic Circle Conference. See what he sees—in New York City and beyond.

Killer Whale Research Aboard National Geographic Explorer

Killer whales are instantly recognizable and live in all the world’s oceans, but relatively little is known about their habits in the wild, especially in remote locations such as Antarctica. Scientists Dr. Bob Pitman and Dr. John Durban have been supported by the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund since 2011, to facilitate their ongoing killer whale research in Antarctica.

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Afar Magazine Seeks Your Exceptional Travel Experiences

Afar Magazine is offering a path to publication through their Exceptional Travel Experiences 2013 Contest. They ask travelers to share an Afar Highlight—a photo and brief, detailed description—of a peak experience while traveling. It could be a morning spent wandering among a colony of King penguins on South Georgia Island, a close encounter with a Minke whale in Antarctica, or a day among the dolphins of Baja. Winners of the contest will be featured in the August/September issue of Afar.

The deadline to submit an Afar Highlight is May 20.

Teachers in the Arctic: The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program

Photo by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic Staff Photographer

Last week 14 teachers from around the country gathered at National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. for a three-day professional development workshop in preparation to be Teacher Fellows this summer. In groups of two and three they’ll sail aboard National Geographic Explorer to Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland, and the Canadian High Arctic over their summer breaks.

The teachers were selected to participate in the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program, named in honor of Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Chairman Emeritus, National Geographic Society and Education Foundation. The program is designed to give teachers and educators the opportunity to extend Grosvenor’s legacy of excellence in geographic education, in this case through firsthand experience that they can bring back to their classroom and beyond.

The workshop, sponsored by Google Education and hosted by National Geographic Education Programs, included a host of Lindblad-National Geographic naturalists, a National Geographic photographer, a screening of James Balog’s film Chasing Ice, and a question-and-answer session with Gil Grosvenor. The group also found creative uses for technology, using iPads for a FaceTime session with last year’s Grosvenor Fellows, plus hands on data collection activities with Vernier probes, GPS units, and other tools for exploration.

Meet fellows Bill Schmoker, Joe Super, Sue Pike, and the rest of the group. We look forward to following their adventures in the high Arctic and their innovations in education upon their return.

 

Epic South America Expedition Aboard National Geographic Explorer Offers Rare Chance to Rub Elbows with Giants of Science and Anthropology

Whether the words “theme cruise” pique your interest or turn your stomach, you’re probably familiar with the concept. For decades cruise companies have filled ships by organizing departures around specific areas of interest: jazz, golf, motorcycles, and more recently, mid-90s alt-rock bands and Kid Rock, both featured in a New York Times profile. Part of the appeal is sharing the experience with like-minded people, and usually there are a couple of traveling celebrities thrown into the mix—people you might see walking around the 3,000-person cruise ship.

A Lindblad-National Geographic expedition is about as far as you can get from a theme cruise. Though, the argument could be made that all of their expeditions encompass certain themes: research, photography, history, and engagement with the wild world. And certainly every cruise aboard their 24- to 148-guest expedition ships attract like-minded guests.

In 2009, they took it a step further by adding their own type of onboard celebrities with the Global Perspectives guest speaker program aboard their flagship National Geographic Explorer. They began inviting individuals from the top tiers of science and journalism, or experts with rare experiences to add layers of interest to the already lively onboard expedition atmosphere. Travelers to the Baltics, steeped in the history surrounding the fall of communism got the added resonance of meeting Mikhail Gorbachev. Guests on a circumnavigation of the British and Irish Isles got a historical perspective from journalist Ted Koppel. And while exploring Antarctica, Buzz Aldrin has shared stories of exploring the moon with spellbound guests. Within a few years, the roster of past Global Perspectives guest speakers read like a list of adjunct professors at a top university.

While every National Geographic Explorer expedition includes guest speakers, one is nothing less than a complete debrief on a continent. This expedition would be the dream of biology lovers, filmmakers, photographers, and international music lovers. It is called Epic South America: an ambitious 38-day voyage along the east coast of the continent—from Trinidad along Brazil’s tropical and human history-rich eastern coast, to finish with a flourish in Buenos Aires. Along the way, the expedition will explore a trio of legendary rivers, visit seldom-seen wildness like Fernando de Noronha, multiple UNESCO World Heritage cities and vibrant colonial cities.

The list of Global Perspectives guest speakers for this expedition is so extensive that as long as you’re interested in something, you’ll find someone very interesting to talk to.

Cesar Gaviria, former Colombian president, will be aboard. He guided Colombia through turbulent years, and even saw Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror to an end. Some of his work was documented in the popular book, Killing Pablo.

Bio-nerds and anthro-geeks will be in ecstasy with some of their field’s historic leaders, including Thomas Lovejoy, the man who coined the term “biological diversity.” National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis will join a portion of the trip. An ethno-botanist and anthropologist, Davis wrote The Serpent and the Rainbow, among other books, and has been called “the explorer of the millennium” by National Geographic.

Students of the nature documentary will even have their own clique. National Geographic photographers and filmmakers Cotton Coulson and David Wright will be aboard, offering a video workshop to enable nature-film lovers to shoot and produce their own documentaries during the voyage. Photojournalist Tyrone Turner, whose Brazil portfolio appeared in National Geographic’s April 2012 issue, will offer field shooting tips and inspiration.

Given the importance of music to the region, music will be a theme, too. Jacob Edgar, an ethnomusicologist, researcher for Putumayo World Music, and record label owner will be aboard to arrange concerts and explain the diverse musical styles the voyage will encounter.

Also aboard: author of New York Times bestseller, How to Be a Carioca, Priscilla Ann Goslin; Suzana Machado D’Oliveira, an expedition pioneer and expert on the region; and Mark Curran, who taught Spanish and Portuguese at Arizona State University for 34 years and whose research has n Brazil’s folk-popular poetry and its relation to Brazilian erudite literature and history has resulted in 11 books published on the topic. And perhaps best of all, the guest speakers who’ve opted to join the expedition do so as fellow travelers, so among only 148 travelers, you’re ensured opportunities to share one-to-one conversation over dinner or drinks.

Get up to date on Brazil, a country and an economy on fire, and have the time of your life exploring a new destination. Some cabins are still available and there’s an enticing airfare offer too; Epic South America expedition sails September 18, 2013.