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Lastest Expedition Reports

Fernandina & Isabela

The youth of an Island such as Fernandina is well appreciated in all terms by ecologist visiting the Galapagos, understanding how ecosystem works is even harder especially during El Niño phenomena. Last event just occurred in 1997 and its effects lasted almost until 2001. Animal populations related to ocean food supply may decline because of the lack of nutrients. Other land based ecosystems instead will flourish with the arrival of the prevailing rains that will last for a longer period of time. We started our day with a mega-hike in Punta Espinosa began quickly as the temperature increases, we managed to explore the colonies of marine iguanas and flightless cormorants. Read More>

Jul 25, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Myvatn Area

We left the coast today and headed inland towards Lake Myvatn and some of Iceland’s most dramatic geology. Although we split up into different groups with different areas of focus, we all spent our time investigating the active volcanic areas that make this country so special. A first stop was Godafoss, a beautiful waterfall that has become a popular stop thanks to its beauty. Read More>

Jul 25, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Bartolome and Rabida Islands

We woke up today anchored in the northern side of Bartolomé Island and right after sunrise we walked a wooden boardwalk all the way up to the top of the mountain. This walk is special as it allows one to explain the succession of life in newly formed islands. Galapagos was never part of a landmass and as the islands were created by volcanic eruptions life had to arrive somehow, establish, and reproduce here. For this process we have four endemic settler plants to thank: the lava cactus, Mollugo spp., Tequilia, and Chamaesyce. These plants are like epiphytes in the sense that they derive all their nutrients from the air and the root system is there only to secure the plant. They open the surface of the island to other forms of life that can benefit from the organic material left by them. Without these plants no life would be found on land in Galapagos. As we walked up the mountain. Read More>

Jul 25, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Hellemobotn, Norway

We sailed through Tysfjorden and arrived at Hellemobotn to low cloud and light rain. Undeterred by the weather, groups set out to explore the valley. Captain Martin chose to lead the longest hike. For many years, he and the staff have been looking from a distance at the largest of the valley’s waterfalls, but it was never clear how to get there due to the many rivers and patches of dense forest in the way. After much consideration it became clear that the answer was not to attempt to reach it without leaving the valley floor, but to climb the valley’s steep sides and approach the waterfall from above. While physically demanding, the resulting hike goes through some of the most beautiful woodland in this already quite scenic area before ascending next to another waterfall up to a stone ridge with some of the most incredible views of the valley. The hike was a great success, and those who partook felt greatly rewarded by the sight of the massive falls up close. Those who chose a more relaxed option were, of course, still able to enjoy the valley’s beauty from its base, without having to cover as much distance over difficult terrain. The afternoon was spent in the same beautiful fjord, but this time enjoyed from the water under a now clear sky. Read More>

Jul 25, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

George Island & the Inians

Today we enjoyed a great day exploring the northwestern area of the Inside Passage; it all started as we arrived to George Island shortly before breakfast. George is a small island north of the large Chichagof Island, not far from the small fishing community of Elfin Cove, and is facing the open water channel that is the northernmost entrance to the Inside Passage. Because of its strategic location, it is the site of a former WWII military outpost that guarded the entrance from a possible enemy invasion. Hikers today had the chance to visit an old gun that is still in place looking over the channel. Others decided to explore George Island by kayaking and had the opportunity to watch an abundance on marine life from their floating platforms, including pteropods, sea stars, and marbled murrelets. Tide-poolers marveled at the multitude of creatures that were exposed on shore by the low tide while Michelle—our head chef—and I went scuba diving to film some underwater video of sea stars, anemones, crabs, and many other creatures for everyone on board to see. During lunch National Geographic Sea Bird sailed a short distance to the Inian islands, a small archipelago that acts as a bottleneck for the strong tidal currents that flow in and out of the northern Inside Passage several times every day. Read More>

Jul 25, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Kelp and Hanus Bay

Today is the first full day of our expedition through Southeast Alaska aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion. We started early and found 2 curious young brown bears at the end of Kelp Bay. Each took turns standing on their hind legs to get a better view of us onboard. It was a very nice way to start our first morning, finding charismatic mega-fauna amidst the misty mountains. We were then treated to our first humpback whale, which is always a treat. In the afternoon, we explored Hanus Bay by foot and by kayak. Read More>

Jul 25, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Siglufjordur & Akureyri

Our adventures continued on our clockwise circumnavigation of this fjord-cut lava island-nation with visits to two towns on Iceland’s north coast. Early morning silvery fog dissolved to reveal mountain peaks, blue skies, and green shores at Siglufjordur, a colorful fishing village and setting for Scandinavian noir fiction (Ragnar Jonasson’s ‘Snow Blind’). Here, we visited an award-winning museum to learn of the glory days of Iceland’s herring industry. We have seen whales and seabirds feeding, learned of Greenland shark fisheries and of whaling, and about the implementation of fishing quotas in Iceland. Read More>

Jul 24, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

North Seymour & Rabida Islands

Today we awaken close to where we arrived at Baltra Island. It is incredible to see the difference from one island to the next with such a short distance traveled in-between. As we land at North Seymour we have an incredible amount of air traffic above us with magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans, blue footed boobies catching the updrafts of wind as it comes off of the ocean. As we move over the rocky terrain we start to find nesting areas for frigate birds and blue footed boobies with the occasional Galapagos land iguana lumbering about. Blue footed boobies are very productive at this time of year as the main productivity in the ocean is quite high. We find adults with various chicks in the nest with an occasional juvenile asking for food from the parent. Male frigate birds with their inflated gular sacks are trying to attract females that fly overhead. As we stop upon the trail to observe a land iguana, the land iguana walks zigzag through the entire group and slowly moves into the underbrush. This desert lake terrain is otherworldly as we walk among the Palo Santo incense trees. As we head out to the outer coast we find one of the densest breeding areas for frigate birds in the Galapagos with over 100 adults and juveniles grouped together in front of the coast. Galapagos sea lions lay upon the sandy dunes with an occasional pop searching for its mother so it may nurse. As we return to the ship the low lying clouds start to rise and show us the sun. Our navigation into the afternoon brings us to Rabida Island we have a chance to explore the undersea world. Read More>

Jul 24, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Fugløya and Tromsø, Northern Norway

In tranquil mist-muffled seas we had crossed overnight from Bear Island towards mainland Norway, and we awoke to find ourselves approaching the small island of Fugløya (Bird Island). Immediately, the rise in temperature was palpable. The mist still clung to the island, however, tantalisingly revealing only a few feet of the lowest cliffs, everything else obscured from view, as we slowly cruised its eastern shore, hugging it close. This island is an important breeding site for Atlantic puffins, and the waters around our bow teamed with them.   We watched with delight as the puffins paddled back and forth on the lazy surface, or dived beneath, using their wings to swim underwater with speed and great agility. The sharp-eyed also spotted razorbills amongst the throng, and even a White-tailed eagle sitting on a ledge watching the scene. Later in the morning Ralph Lee Hopkins continued our photographic education with a motivating talk on Creative Travel Photography, explaining at last what all those buttons and dials are meant for. Soon civilization was in sight, the shorelines of Tromsø with its docks and boatyards, bridges and hotel blocks, slipped into view. Read More>

Jul 24, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Chicagoff Island & Pavlov Harbor

El dia de los osos! Not one or two, but a total of six brown bears were seen today on the shore of Chicagoff Island we began our exploration of  Southeast Alaska. The first two bears were a young pair recently released from their mother’s care. Rather small, thin and apparently very hungry, they explored the upper intertidal for food. Later, but still before our lunchbreak, two large brown bears were seen also in pursuit of food along the intertidal near a small salmon stream. Shortly after lunch, the marine realm revealed its apex predator when a small pod of killer whales were spotted in Chatham Strait. Read More>

Jul 24, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

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Please note: All Daily Expedition Reports (DER's) are posted Monday-Friday, during normal business hours.

 

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