Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic
EXPLORATIONS – A Lindblad Expeditions Blog


Google Maps Adds Reefs, Sea Life & Undersea Imagery

Get a glimpse of the undersea without leaving your desk. A new addition to Google Maps lets you explore stunning panoramics of six reef ecosystems in Australia, the Philippines, and Hawaii.

Google Maps Street View has long allowed users to zoom down to street-level to see close-ups of city storefronts and suburban homes. The images are shot by car-mounted cameras that Google employees have driven over millions of miles of roads across the U.S.  Together with The Catlin Seaview Survey, Google developed an undersea Street View camera capable of offering an intimate look at these ecosystems—as if one’s swimming above and among them while snorkeling or Scuba diving.

While this is the first time undersea images have been made available on Google Maps, it’s not the first time Google has let us glimpse beneath the sea. A couple years ago they added an Ocean layer to Google Earth. That project was spearheaded by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, and created using many photos and videos from Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic.

Google Maps ‘Reef View’ offers an easy way for armchair adventurers to explore the planet’s beautiful, remote places. And hopefully as more people see these delicate reefs, more of them will advocate for their preservation and protection.

Massive Iceberg Breaks Free from Greenland

A massive iceberg roughly twice the size of Manhattan broke loose from Peterman Glacier in Greenland. The Associated Press reports: “Many of Greenland’s southern glaciers have been melting at an unusually rapid pace. The Petermann break brings large ice loss much farther north than in the past, said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.”

The southern glaciers of Greenland are a bellwether. Just two years ago another colossal berg broke free from the same glacier, and scientists say that in data collected over 150 years they’ve never seen anything like it.

See this region of Greenland with us in July or August of 2013, and join the climate change conversation with firsthand knowledge.

Lonesome George, Last Pinta Tortoise in Galápagos has Died

The staff at the Galápagos National Park has announced that the tortoise Lonesome George has died. George had become an emblem of the Galápagos Islands and a symbol of wildlife conservation worldwide. He was the last known survivor of Pinta Island in Galápagos, and his passing marks the extinction of the subspecies. In the decades we’ve been sharing the wonder of Galápagos with our guests, thousands of them have seen and photographed George on Santa Cruz Island, learning of his plight. His death is a sad day for our staff, especially those who have worked in Galápagos for years. The important work and tremendous successes of the Galápagos National Park Service in repopulating other islands continues.

Upcoming Baja California Webinar

Find out why Baja California & the Sea of Cortez need to go on your must-visit list during our free webinar on Wednesday, June 27 at 7pm ET. Register here—it’s free!

Join National Geographic photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins, and naturalist Alberto Montaudon, and learn all about the place Jacques Cousteau called a “living aquarium.” Its islands are designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to an impressive variety of marine mammals and birds. Our 30 years of experience exploring this “best-kept-secret” region guarantees you intoxicating encounters-leaping dolphins, gray whale mothers nurturing their calves, seabirds en masse, and snorkeling with sea lions.

And find out about our brand new expedition, Baja California Land & Sea Photography Retreat, coming up in January 2013.

Did You Know the Heads on Easter Island Also Have Bodies?

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.

Is Easter Island on your life list? Come with us and walk among the strange and beautiful moai. Easter Island is offered as a 4-day extension on our Antarctica expeditions.

Sighting of a Very Rare Glacier Bear in Alaska

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.

Live Chat with Alaska’s Native Voices of Glacier Bay Wed, May 23 at 3pm on Facebook

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!

First-Ever Live Dive in Alaska

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.

Future expeditions in Alaska, Baja California, and Costa Rica & Panama will see more and more of this technology.

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.

A Guest’s Deliveries from Post Office Bay, Galápagos

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