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Chatham Strait & Lake Eva

The morning greeted us with thick fog. Through shreds of mist, patches of sunlight made brief appearances on the mountain slopes as our ship was surrounded by humpback whales. The ship slowed to a crawl and we could hear the whales breathing all around us, quietly feeding on small fish. The water was flat and mirror-like, reflecting the pastel blues and purples of the morning fog. After breakfast, the fog lifted and we searched for wildlife. Dall’s porpoise blazed past, black and white bodies bounding through the waves. A humpback whale breached spectacularly in front of the ship and slapped the water with its long pectoral fins. Emily Mount presented a talk on the salmon of southeast Alaska in preparation for afternoon adventures.

Afternoon operations were focused on Lake Eva, a delightful lake at the end of a meandering forest trail.

Jul 31, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Le Conte Bay & Petersburg

We woke up this morning surrounded by a dense fog. Fortunately, that did not stop the early risers who joined me for my morning stretch class. We addressed some upper body soreness from yesterday’s kayaking with some MELT method self-massage techniques and then we did some sun salutations to encourage the sun out of its foggy hiding place.

After breakfast we boarded the expedition landing craft for a magical mystery tour of the icebergs hidden in the fog of Le Conte Bay.

Jul 31, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Isabela Island

We started our day with a pre-breakfast outing on Espumilla Beach, situated on the Island of Santiago. After a wet landing, we moved further into the incense tree forest, where several species of Darwin finches were spotted. Some of us even saw a Galapagos hawk near the beach eating a sea turtle hatchling. We learned so much about the endemic flora of the archipelago and were so delighted to hike on the island where Darwin spent nine days while he was in the Galapagos.  

Some of us chose to go kayaking instead, and we sure had an amazing experience with baby sea lions swimming around us, and some other sleeping on the rocks.

Jul 31, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

The Denmark Strait

Our sea conditions today were, well, somewhat unexpected as we crossed the infamous Denmark Strait. We have been here before and have encountered very different circumstances in the past.  Now, we’ve had beautiful clear blue skies, calm seas, and warm sunshine. In fact, during part of the day we enjoyed glass-like surface conditions. It was fun seeing people out on deck wearing short-sleeved shirts and worrying about sunburn. Someone asked, “Did we make a wrong turn last night?  Is this the Caribbean?” However, we knew we were probably in the right place, because the sun rose this morning at 04:00 AM and didn’t set until after 10:00 PM. 

This was a good day to start our lecture program.

Jul 31, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Charles Darwin Research Station, Highlands, Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz is the home of the largest giant tortoises that inhabit this archipelago. It should be one of the most interesting sites of the week since these beautiful creatures are what have given the islands their name.  

The breeding center, operated by the Charles Darwin Research Station and the National Park Service, is the place where the giant tortoises have been saved from going extinct.

Jul 31, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Isabela Island

We navigated a short distance across the Boliva Channel between the western Islands of Fernandina and Isabela, and shortly before dawn we dropped anchor in Urbina Bay. Wellness specialist Maria led a group in stretching exercises on the sky deck as the day dawned hot and cloudless. Following breakfast we had a choice of doing a long two mile walk or a shorter ¾ mile option.  

Everyone disembarked on a steep black sand beach where we could see the recent tracks of a sea turtle that had come ashore the night before to either nest or just search for a nest site.

Jul 30, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Santiago Island

We left behind the western Galapagos and we moved back to the east to visit Santiago, one of the largest and beautiful islands of the archipelago. Well known as “James” by ancient whalers and pirates, Santiago offers a great variety of places to be visited that can captivate and produce an inspiring experience.

Early in the morning we started our first activity, visiting Espumilla Beach, the dark sand of which is used by sea turtles for nesting.

Jul 30, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Glacier Bay National Park

It’s been an absolutely amazing day here in Glacier Bay National Park. Two visitors joined us aboard National Geographic Sea Lion today: Glacier Bay National Park ranger Heidi Herter and Alaska Native Voices interpreter Alice Haldane. Both were an outstanding wealth of knowledge and information, providing us with several programs and interesting commentary throughout the day.

Our first stop of the day was at South Marble Island – an excellent location for spotting seabirds and Steller’s sea lions.

Jul 30, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Lake Eva & Red Bluff Bay

Two logging humpback whales greeted us as we steamed towards Hanus Bay. After a hearty breakfast, and with the sun glistening off the calm waters, we made our way ashore at the Lake Eva trailhead. The tide was low and as we picked our way through the cockle shells, butter clams, and lonely sea stars that filled the intertidal zone; we found a young brown bear making his way along the shoreline. Once he was on his way, the various hiking groups set off to explore the beautiful forest along the Lake Eva trail. 

Our undersea specialist, Carlos, brought his dry suit and GoPro camera along to get some video footage of the fish in the river.

Jul 30, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Latrabjarg Cliffs and Flatey, Breidafjord, Iceland

Overnight, National Geographic Explorer headed northwards from Reykjavik to Breidafjordur, Iceland’s second largest bay. Thousands of small islands and skerries pepper its waters. To these shores the Norse came in the 9th and 10th centuries attracted by the rich food sources that were found here, including fish, seals, whales, seabirds and their eggs.

What a splendid vista presented itself at 8:00 a.

Jul 30, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

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