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Crusing and Inian Islands

Our morning began cruising through the foggy and cloud covered Inian Islands. This small group of islands stand at the mouth of Cross Sound, the most northern entrance to the Inside Passage. The tides that flow through this area create extremely strong currents that churn the waters, creating nutrient-rich waters that bring much of the wildlife here. Just before early morning yoga we were delighted to see a small group of humpback whales slowly gliding by, as well as otters scattered intermittently, just propelling themselves on their backs and taking in the sights of our ship passing by.

After the National Geographic Sea Lion anchored and had breakfast we enjoyed long cruises through the Inian Islands, exploring places with names like the Hobbit Hole.

Jul 10, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

At sea: Com, East Timor to Darwin, Australia

In the early hours this morning a small band ventures ashore at Com, East Timor, to satiate their intrigue while National Geographic Orion completes its foreign flag requirements for disembarkation on return to Darwin. Most, however, take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the comfort of their cabins and have a sleep in to awake to another calm day at sea – a pleasant end to an amazing expedition in that such weather isn’t always assured!

In the air this morning there is a sense that what has been a fantastic experience is coming to a close.

Jul 10, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

Galapagos is located 600 nautical miles off the coast of South America, and the flora and fauna found in this isolated archipelago is so unique; many of which are found here and nowhere else in our planet. The distance that separates Galapagos with the Americas is the main reason for this scenario. There is not another place on earth where reptiles are more successful than mammals except for in the Galapagos. 

This group of oceanic islands is also one of the best places to see adaptive radiation in such an amazing degree.

Jul 10, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Bartholomew and Chinese Hat Islands

Today we started our day with an energizing hike to the top of Bartholomew Island where we observed and learned about the geology of the archipelago. We had a clear morning so from here we enjoyed the most famous view of Galapagos. As we reached the summit, we looked around and could see several islands of the central realm of Galapagos. In front of us we observed Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island and its very black lava flow from 1897. Along the coast we looked at some blue-footed boobies fishing as well as magnificent frigatebirds flying above us.

After hiking we returned aboard and had breakfast, and later on we geared up and went to a nearby beach and went snorkeling.

Jul 10, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Scoresbysund, NE Greenland

Scoresbysund, in the local language called Kangertittivaq, is the largest fjord system in the world and is located along the desolate east coast of Greenland. Along the coast the multi-year pack-ice from the Arctic Ocean is pushed out into the North Atlantic, which makes this part of the Arctic very inaccessible for the most of the year. Also the fjord system with fast ice is affected by cooling from the ice cap, which makes the fast ice stay way into the later part of summer. Because of its inaccessibility, Scoresbysund was first seen and named in 1820 after the famous Whitby whaler, William Scoressby Jr., who was the first European ever to reach this part of eastern Greenland.

Scoresbysund, with all of its fjords penetrating far inland, is also a major area to capture the ice calving off from the east side of the Greenland ice cap.

Jul 9, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Cruising Chatham Strait, Baranof Island; Lake Eva Hike

National Geographic Sea Lion spent the early morning hours traveling out of Frederick Sound and into Chatham Strait, one of the world’s greatest fjords and more than 200 miles in length. Off the port side of the vessel land fog was hanging onto Baranof Island, making visibility tough at best, though humpback whales could be heard blowing nearby. We found ourselves on the bow and following the sound of whale breaths which carried over the sea very clearly in the still air. Above Sea Lion we could see clearing skies but our world continued to be water, fog and, slightly, the eastern shore of Baranof Island. 

As we cruised north along the coast of Baranof Island we dipped into several small bays and finally reached our morning destination of Baranof Warm Springs and the home of our morning guest, Andy Szabo, one of Alaska’s leading researchers and experts on humpback whales.

Jul 9, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Exploring Cross Sound

After a few wet days traveling north, we finally received a break in the clouds at the most opportune time. Sprinkled within the narrow confines of Cross Sound, the Inian Islands are some of the most productive and exciting rocks and islets in Southeast Alaska. Slammed by tidal currents like an ever-flowing stream of food and oxygen, it’s a hotbed of activity centered around large charismatic megafauna, primarily marine mammals. Guests loaded into boats and went for exploratory cruises with pinnipeds and cetaceans.

Instead of staying dry to watch the action from the comfort of a boat, bartender Garland and I made the most of a slack tide and went for a dive to explore one of the myriad small underwater ridges and kelp forests of the Inian Islands.

Jul 9, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

At Sea to Com, East Timor

“My soul is full of longing for the secrets of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

After a memorable trip around the stunning Kimberley coast and spectacular attractions, we ventured into the deeper waters of the Timor Sea.

Jul 9, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Santa Cruz

To the northwest of Santa Cruz and far from the inhabited part of the island lies a location with remarkable variety of both flora and fauna. After a wet landing on rocky terrain we come across a white sandy beach surrounded by black basaltic rock; all this combined with the greens and reds of the plants gives this place an outstanding mosaic of color. Of course it is also inhabited by animals like seabirds, marine iguanas, lava lizards, shorebirds and fish in tide pools. 

Behind the beach we encounter a brackish water lagoon in which flamingoes find their favorite food; a microscopic shrimp called Artemia Salina which gives them their remarkable pink feathers.

Jul 9, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Cascade Creek and Petersburg

Fog and mist drifted through the mountains, enveloped the rain forest, softened the landscape, and dampened the hair of early morning bow watchers as we cruised to Thomas Bay and Cascade Creek. This morning’s adventure would be a hike to a massive, brawling waterfall a few hundred yards up a roaring creek from the beach, then onward up the narrow boardwalk steps into the dripping rain forest. Clouds of mist streaming from the thunderous waterfall beaded on our faces while we marveled at this amazing spectacle. 

The mature, old-growth spruce and hemlock rain forest here appears somewhat different than the emerging forest we walked in yesterday at Williams Cove although they are essentially the same, differing fundamentally only in time of development.

Jul 8, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

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