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Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea

We awoke this morning with the slightly surreal sense that can only follow an experience such as a visit to see the Baining Fire Dance. The slow dawning realization that the events of last night – the bizarre faces, leaping flames and scattering sparks -  were not some weird dream but a part of the amazing reality of a journey in Melanesia.

During our visit yesterday to the Rabaul we were introduced to the volcanic peaks known as ‘the mother’ and ‘the daughters.

Apr 18, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Isla San Esteban and Isla Rasa

What an interesting first sight this morning off of the National Geographic Sea Lion.  Were we still dreaming or was that a thick fog and a light mist here in Baja, Mexico?  We were anchored off the eastern side of Isla San Esteban, a nesting place for the endemic yellow-footed gulls.  After breakfast we reached the rocky beach via our expedition landing crafts and carefully made our way up over the slippery rocks.  As we stared our walk up the arroyo we saw several of these large beautiful gulls sitting on their nests and we were mindful to not disturb them as we passed.  

On our hike we saw many Pinto Chuckwalla skeletons and some of us even saw some live ones!  One of our younger guests nearly stepped on the rarely spotted endemic San Esteban black tailed rattlesnake.

Apr 17, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Baja California

Plazas and Santa Fe Islands

 

Around 6:00 a.

Apr 17, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

At Sea and Isla San Marcos

WOW! What a day it’s been! Sunrise brought oh-so-sweet, super calm seas and bottlenose dolphins for those who rose for the first morning light. It wasn’t long until several sperm whales blows were spotted and we spent a luxurious amount of time watching them. A female with her large calf surfaced over and over giving us great, close views and terrific photo opportunities with the Baja Peninsula as our backdrop. Another cetacean, a dwarf sperm whale, was briefly spotted as well. 

We took a break from whale watching for the “Photo Essentials” presentation, but at the end we were quickly back on the bow as a large group of long-beaked common dolphins had been spotted just ahead of the ship.

Apr 16, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Baja California

Islas San Esteban & Rasa

The mark of a true expedition is to experience things never seen, but more so, it is to come with certain expectations and witness as they are exceeded. Today, aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird, the guests found moments of pure discovery. Beginning on the Island of San Esteban, we put on our ‘lizard lenses’ and went in search of the many reptiles known to be on the island. As the sun warmed the arroyo, we began to see scattered movements out of the corners of our eyes, alerting us that the reptiles were of a temperature to begin their daily search for food. Walking cautiously with inspecting eyes, we were treated to whip tailed lizards, spiny tailed iguanas, and the highly sought after chuckwalla. Some perched on rocks, taking what they needed from the sun’s radiation, while others began the journey up the cardon cacti in order to feast upon the newly blooming flowers. It was no mystery that the island teemed with life, but it took a certain patience and understanding to move at the pace necessary to make it visible to the camera’s lens.  

Travelling to our next destination, we had no choice but to slow the ship’s progress in order to take in the eye-popping biomass surrounding us in the water.

Apr 16, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Kuiywawa Island, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

Within moments of arrival on remote Kuiywawa (Kuyawa) Island we were welcomed like long lost friends.

Apr 16, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Santa Cruz Island

Today we visited Santa Cruz Island, this is the second largest island in the Galapagos archipelago and it has the largest human population as well. Here we also have the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

In the morning we disembarked at Puerto Ayora and then we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Apr 16, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

At Sea & Isla Danzante, Baja California, Mexico

Our voyage exploring the Sea of Cortez began with a bountiful full moon.

Apr 15, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Santa Rosalia

We attacked the town of Santa Rosalia today with our Canons, a few Nikons, a sprinkling of Olympuses, and a Lumix or two. The colors, flavors and kind people were captured as pixels and transformed into a collection of photographic memories. 

Color radiated from everywhere; the bright blues of the painted pangas in the harbor, a multitude of rainbow-splashed storefronts along main street, carts full of kaleidoscope-colored candy wheeled down the street and ice cream shops—truly the end of the rainbow—with their refreshing assortment of frozen fruity paletas.

Apr 15, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Floreana

Southernmost island of the Galapagos. 

Flora, fauna and human history.

Apr 15, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

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