Take a swim with polar bears in search of the sea ice they require to hunt for the prey need to survive. Thanks to the Arctic Exploration Fund and this soulful video they released last month. If you’re inspired and want to explore the Arctic for yourself, join us here this summer.
For World Oceans Day, Sven-Olof Lindblad, President & Founder of Lindblad Expeditions, wrote about his recent trip to Cuba’s national marine sanctuary.
On March 30 I plunged into the depths of the Gardens of the Queen National Marine Park in Cuba. I had some trepidation, as it had been a long time since I had donned a tank to spend time 60 or 70 feet below the surface. Maybe it’s like riding a bicycle or skiing after a hiatus; anyway, it felt like that.
What we saw within minutes was astounding, particularly in a Caribbean context. First came Caribbean reef sharks — plenty of them circling us with great curiosity, sleek and beautiful with piercing eyes. Then as we approached the sea bed, groupers — big black groupers and a few Goliath groupers, the biggest one weighing approximately 300 pounds.
They followed us around like puppies, seeming to enjoy the encounter as much as we did. I don’t recall ever seeing so many large fish at once. It was remarkable and beautiful and comforting that they were here under protection
I heard that Fidel Castro was an avid diver and that he was responsible for setting up this National Marine Park and went there often. Dictators with an environmental bent — now that’s probably as rare as sharks are becoming in much of the world.
During most of the 70s I lived in Kenya, much of the time in Tsavo East National Park, a 5,000 square mile terrain of mostly thick bush. Here resided the largest populations of both elephants and black rhino in all of Africa.
One day I went out to see how many rhino I could find. I found 59 that day; 8 years later I was in the same region for a week and found not one. They had been largely killed off for their horns which were prized in Yemen for dagger handles and in the Far East for potions.
It was that day when I realized that we, as humans, had far too much power in a world that needed balance of all living things.
Now fast forward three decades and the assault on natural systems and our atmosphere is beyond dangerous, immoral, and stupid.
The Ocean is, in much of the world, a dump. Our voracious appetite for fish, combined with our growing populations and governmental shortsightedness, points in the direction of global collapse. And perhaps the most disgusting of all practices is shark finning — cutting the fins off and throwing them back to die a slow, painful death.
Will we come to our senses before they are all gone? Will we develop the sense of urgency that clearly is needed to overt disaster?
Somehow I believe we will. Somehow I do not believe we will want to look into our children’s eyes before we depart this world, having destroyed their future.
So to the sharks and groupers of the Gardens of the Queen — you are fortunate that the human leader of your waters was a diver.
Guests aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird sailing in the upper Sea of Cortez had a rare sighting on Wednesday morning. What our naturalists mistook for a distant boat turned out to be the carcass of a medium-sized sperm whale drifting in the current.
Our naturalist Alberto Ferrer explains what they saw next:
“We could see some motion, which was quite confusing, since the leviathan was evidently not alive. Suddenly, a fin broke the surface of the water and the tail of the deceased cetacean shook violently. By now we knew that we were witnessing something that none of us had ever seen before. A great white shark feasted on the sperm whale.”
“We realized that this type of sighting is a true expression of a wild place. Sadly, a sperm whale had died, but in a way, nothing dies in nature. The life of this giant of the depths was now giving life to one of the most fascinating creatures in the ocean.”
Explorer James Balog’s Antarctic plans began in 2012, after a conversation he had with Sven Lindblad at the premier of his film Chasing Ice:
Sven said, “You know, this is the time when you really ought to get down there with us and use the ship to deploy some cameras and see these landscapes down there.” …I’m really, really glad that I finally took him up on this amazing offer because it has been so much fun, a fantastic voyage with some really memorable moments.
James Balog has just returned from his expedition, but while aboard National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica and in the midst of his camera deployments, he made time connect with the CBC for an interview on the changing ice conditions and the project.
Our guests aboard National Geographic Endeavour were exploring Genovesa Island when our naturalist noticed a pregnant sea lion about to give birth. They waited a few minutes and saw the baby sea lions first few minutes of life.
The highlands of Santa Cruz stretch into passing weather systems, the clouds sticking around the island peaks and dropping enough rain for farming. While the islands are still largely unpopulated, there are a handful of famers on Santa Cruz. We have had a long relationship with one of those farmers, he and his family choosing to produce shade-grown coffee and sugarcane products. We invited him aboard our ship National Geographic Endeavour to explore more of the islands where he’s grown up.
When spring arrives on the Sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia, the southern elephant seals aren’t getting any more milk from their moms, so they look to whoever’s there for a handout. (Don’t worry, we didn’t give them any.) If you’re interested in exploring South Georgia, join us here in March this year—these seal pups will be all grown up!
National Geographic Orion’s inaugural expedition is quickly approaching—and just last week we made arrangements for a new expedition experience. Guests aboard Cultures of the South Pacific: New Zealand to the Solomons, the first segment of our two-part inaugural expedition, will see the ancient tradition of land-diving, which is still practiced on remote Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. This rite of passage and agricultural fertility ritual is an amazing spectacle to witness, and the islanders will begin their season with a special presentation for our guests. See young men leap headfirst from a high platform with nothing but vines tied to their ankles to arrest their fall, just as their ancestors have done for centuries. There still a few cabins available on both expeditions in our inaugural series: Cultures of the South Pacific: New Zealand to the Solomons (Mar. 19, 2014), where we’ll see land-diving; and on Historic Isles and Undersea Wonders: The Solomons to the Great Barrier Reef (Mar. 30, 2014) where the focus is on exploring the incredible reefs and undersea life.