It may sound like a startling discovery, but it turns out that researches have known since 1914 that the mysterious moai sculptures on Easter Island rest on torsos. Many of the heads are buried up to their necks—especially in many iconic photos of the island—so a common misconception is that the statues are only gigantic heads. More recent excavations have shown the underground many of moai torsos are carved with petroglyphs.
Guests aboard National Geographic Sea Lion in Southeast Alaska had an extremely rare sighting yesterday—a glacier bear. These bluish-grey bears are a morph of the black bear and are usually only found in the northern potion of Northeast Alaska. These bears are so uncommon that our Tlingit cultural interpreter, a native of this area and on board for this portion of the journey, said it was only the second she’d ever seen in her life.
Join us on our Facebook page for a live chat with our Tlingit cultural interpreter on Wed., May 23 at 3pm ET (12pm PT). No need to sign up or register, simply visit us at our Facebook page to join in.
Our Tlingit Cultural Heritage Guide, Bertha from Alaska’s Native Voices of Glacier Bay sails aboard our twin expedition ships National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird when they enter her ancestral homeland at Glacier Bay National Park. We’ve asked her to join us on Facebook to answer a few questions about her intriguing cultural history. We hope you bring your own questions!
Two days ago in Alaska our undersea specialist Justin Hofman suited up for a dive. Instead of taking his conventional video camera and mask, he used our new full-face mask, complete with a comm link back the ship, and a new tethered camera capable of streaming live video directly to the monitors in our lounge. Our guests gathered in the ship’s bow and for the first time, they saw the undersea live while our specialist narrated just what they were looking at.
Ocean Exhibit Curated by National Geographic Museum Installed Aboard the National Geographic Explorer
Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Explorer will find the previous artwork removed from common areas and replaced with a new, National Geographic Museum-curated exhibit. “Ocean” is the ultimate interactive exhibit aboard the world’s ultimate expedition ship. It seeks to convey the wonder, the challenges, and the opportunity of healthy vibrant oceans.
At launch, the exhibit includes photographs by National Geographic photographers David Doubilet, Ralph Lee Hopkins, Paul Nicklen, Dr. Enric Sala, and Brian Skerry. It also includes eight iPad photo galleries and eight videos featuring some of the ocean’s leading proponents—Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Enric Sala, Dr. Bob Ballard, Sven-Olof Lindblad, and others.
The launch of this exhibit is just the first step in what will be an ongoing collaboration between Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic focused on ocean conservation and education.
We hope you’ll be able to spend some time exploring this installation.
Today’s blog post was written by Jeanne Govert, who joined us in the Galápagos Islands last October.
…stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed
In days of old, when large masted ships and their intrepid crews sailed the oceans, those waiting at home were rewarded for their patience with a letter delivered by a ship heading back home. Sometimes these letters were on the seas for many months, even years before reaching their destination.
On a tiny island in the Galápagos chain, there is a mailbox for these letters. It’s not the original barrel used in the 1800’s but a pretty rustic replica that is still used today on Floreana Island. The modern day version works similarly, connecting tourists with their just a tiny bit jealous friends back home, or perhaps even a note sent to themselves delivered by another tourist living near the addresses called out by the crew at mail call.
On our recent trip there we took delivery of four such postcards, three in cities in Ohio and one in Paris. I am optimistic, aren’t I? So on April 16 we headed to the first delivery address in Vermilion Ohio. Since the sender did not include a phone number or an email address, we showed up unannounced and she was out of town, information given to us by her neighbor out walking her dog. But she promised to deliver the postcard and told us Anne would be very disappointed to have missed us. Then it was on to our second destination after a night in a B&B in Tarlton, Ohio.
A side trip to the Hopewell Indian Mounds National Park was a bonus. Sharon and Gary had used their email address along with their home address in Wheelersburg, Ohio, down near the border by Kentucky. We warned them of our coming and they met us at the door with a camera and snacks! We shared photos of each of our trips. They had been there just two weeks before us so this was quite a quick delivery, being sent only six months earlier from Ecuador. We were in what is considered as Appalachia and they kindly offered to treat us to lunch at a place they knew well. They informed us that their county is the poorest in all of Ohio, while they live in a lovely, upscale neighborhood. We departed feeling that we had made new friends with common interests. Travel has a way of bringing like minded folks together and instant friendships are formed, even when you haven’t traveled together, simply to the same place.
The final delivery was to a business address in Sharonsville, Ohio just north of Cincinnati. Our arrival time was late due to the nice lunch with Sharon and Gary, but the card was delivered at 5:05! The door was still open and lots of workers were still in their workstations, all but Chris, the sender of the card. She leaves at 4:30 on Tuesdays! But since the card was addressed to her co-workers, they were thrilled to receive it. They knew of her trip and even of the postcard system because she too, had a few to deliver in the area. My photo was taken holding the card so she could see who drove far and wide, through rain and sun to keep the promise of the postal service. We headed on to Dayton to spend the night in another B&B in the historic district. A Thai dinner along with an after dinner drink at Blind Bob’s (yes, he is really blind) made for a long and interesting day. In the morning we took a self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood which was settled in the 1800’s by craftsmen and shopkeepers of the area known as Oregon.
Our trip started and ended with remnants of the early 1800’s. While these early German immigrants were building their homes and settling in to a land that was foreign to them, adventurous sailors were on the high seas discovering new lands too. Our journey these past three days took us to new parts of Ohio with over 600 miles traveled. But those three postcards traveled 2,954 miles to reach their destination. Now it’s on to Paris to deliver that last postcard.
Photos and story by Jeanne Govert, April 19, 2012
Russian researchers are trying to track down an extremely rare all-white orca last spotted off the coast of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula about 18 months ago. The Far East Russia Orca Project said it was the first time they’ve seen a white orca, though since then two more all-white juveniles have been sighted. See the photos and story on Huffington Post.
This month our expedition team aboard National Geographic Endeavour unveiled a new tool that allows us to explore the marine environment in greater depth and share it with guests—a remote operated vehicle (ROV). The ROV can dive to 500 feet, far deeper than Scuba divers can safely explore, allowing us a glimpse of deep undersea life that inhabits this Pacific archipelago. While life inhabiting the islands has been well documented, relatively little is known about the deep undersea here.
This is the second ROV in the Lindblad-National Geographic Fleet. The ROV aboard National Geographic Explorer has aided in the discovery of new species in the polar seas as well as cold water corals. By exploring the Galápagos with our ROV on a regular basis, we hope to soon offer new insights into the region’s sea life. Intrigued? Come aboard and join the exploration.
See a short video with Sven Lindblad and the new ROV in Galápagos.
This Sunday is Earth Day. We’d like to mark the day by honoring our guests, whose generosity and thoughtfulness has done much to protect the planet’s wild places.
Just this month, many of our guests in Galápagos took time off from their expeditions to work with the national park service removing invasive blackberry and replacing it with the Cafetillo, or Psychotria rufpes. This shrub serves as a buffer zone around the last remaining stand of the giant daisy, Scalesia pedunculata, an endemic plant of Galápagos that forms a forest of elfin-like ambience of mosses and lichens.
Save the whales? There’s an app for that. The Whale Alert app created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration links real-time acoustic buoy information to an iPhone or iPad. The app is constantly updated with the location of right whales, allowing captains navigating the North Atlantic to be certain of steering a course clear from this rare, endangered whale.