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Isabela & Fernandina Islands

The breeze was gentle and the ocean was calm as we were flanked on one side there by volcanoes.  We woke up navigating around the Island that resembles a sea horse, Isabela. Early in the morning some guests decided to join us on the sky deck to look for any kind of big, marine mammal and we had great success. Read More>

Oct 6, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

The Dalles/Maryhill

All good things must come to an end. However, the memories of today’s activities and historical and natural lessons remain. Crisp weather with peek-a-boo sunshine, looming mountains (especially Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood), exposure to moving about by motor coach, bicycle, on foot, and aboard the good ship National Geographic Sea Bird, opened up wonders of the Columbia River central valley. Today we followed the path of Lewis & Clark’s 1806 return eastward journey. Read More>

Oct 6, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Columbia River Gorge Area

My oh my, what a busy day!  At predawn, our little ship sailed by Cape Horn, a remarkable basaltic wall, as we entered the magnificent gorge carved by the Columbia River with a great deal of help from the Ice Age floods.  As the eastern sky began to glow orange, Beacon Rock, an ancient volcanic neck, came into view.  It was here that Lewis and Clark first noticed tidal influence on the river. By breakfast, we were just below the Bonneville Dam and Lock looking up at Table Mountain and its huge scar which is the result of a massive landslide that dammed up the Columbia River hundreds of years ago. Read More>

Oct 6, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Pacific Northwest

Orangerie Bay, Samarai and Deka Deka Islands (Papua New Guinea)

Orangerie Bay is known as a gathering place during certain times of the year for whale sharks, the biggest fish in the sea.  As luck would have it, October is one of those times.  Although we kept a watch during our transit of the bay this morning, none was seen.  We did, however, spot numerous sea birds, schools of small fish, and several floating coconuts.  The rugged coastline and jagged islets off our port side, as well as occasional views of reefs on both sides of our vessel, showed us why these were considered very treacherous waters for sailing ships in the days before accurate charts were produced. We arrived at our anchorage midway between Samarai and Deka Deka Islands soon after lunch. Read More>

Oct 6, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

Isla de La Plata & Puerto López, Ecuador

No, National Geographic Explorer is not in Galápagos, but we are in Ecuador, and this morning we set anchor off the shores of Isla de la Plata also called “Little Galapagos” by the locals. This gem of an island is just 32 km off the coast of mainland Ecuador and is part of Machalillo National Park. The semiarid climate of this region is quite a stark contrast from the coast of Colombia only a couple hundred miles to the north. La Plata with its dry scrub ecosystem is home to thousands of nesting seabirds, most prevalent of them being the magnificent frigatebirds as well as the iconic and charismatic blue-footed booby. Led by local naturalist guides, a requirement of the park, many of us set out on the trails that wind around the top portion of the island. We were all thrilled to get such closeup and intimate looks at these wonderful birds with boobies nesting literally right on the trail at times. Also present here, but in fewer numbers, are both Nazca and red-footed boobies. The views from the cliffs overlooking the sea were breathtaking with swarms of birds coming and going and frigatebirds soaring high above. We also were provided the option to spend some time in the rich waters around the island by taking a local snorkeling boat just off shore. Carlos Navarro, our undersea specialist, partook in two dives while we were here and managed to video the spectacular marine life found here, including green sea turtles, and myriads of fish. By afternoon we were anchored near Puerto López, this vibrant little fishing village also serves as the main point of access to Isla de la Plata. Read More>

Oct 5, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in South American West Coast

Astoria, Fort Clatsop, Cape Disappointment

Hard to imagine a better day than this!  As dawn broke, the National Geographic Sea Lion was at the mouth of the mighty Columbia beneath clear skies with magnificent vistas in every direction.  California sea lions lounged in languid repose on nearby buoy channel markers.  Blows from a humpback whale punctuated the morning air with a primordial beckoning, providing us with the first hint that this was going to be a most extraordinary day. After docking in the historic town of Astoria, the first American settlement on the Pacific coast, we traveled south to Fort Clatsop, headquarters of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery during the winter of 1805-06. Read More>

Oct 5, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Pacific Northwest

At Sea, Port Moresby

Steaming ahead through the turquoise waters of the Torres Strait on the National Geographic Orion, it seems hard to imagine that this shallow sea between Australia and New Guinea was once renowned by sailors as the “Strait of Terror.” For the vessels of the colonial era the four-meter swell we faced might well have meant a violent wreckage on the uncharted reefs and an untimely end for those aboard at the hands of the local residents. As naturalist and marine biologist, Cristiana Damiano explained in her morning talk, a healthy population of sharks, including a few species that wouldn’t mind snacking on some shipwreck victims, once teemed in these waters. But shark finning and overfishing have greatly reduced their numbers, and with growing recognition of the value of these top-predators, efforts like the Pristine Seas Project are now attempting to recover their populations. As we learned from Ben Cropp, far more dangerous to castaways in the strait were the local population of head hunters who came to particularly prize the skulls of white men travelling through the area.  Nowadays, guests and crew alike could confidently navigate these waters having learned a bit more about the mighty National Geographic Orion and her exquisite engineering in the morning Q & A session about the ship from the Captain, Chief Engineer, and crew leaders. Beating the challenging seas we arrived in Port Moresby in the early afternoon a few hours ahead of expectations to resupply and make contact with the immigration officials of Papua New Guinea. Read More>

Oct 5, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Borneo & Indonesia

Hood River, Oregon

At 0600 hours the dauntless National Geographic Sea Bird faces a strong headwind as she sails up the Columbia, the Great River of the West, on our way to Hood River, Oregon. In a beautifully clear early autumn sky a newly waning moon rides high in the east above bright Venus, the Morning Star. The Big Dipper stands low in the north and Orion, the Mighty Hunter, is high in the south. We are sailing into the spectacular Columbia Gorge and soon come to Cape Horn, a vertical wall of basaltic lava weathered into large rounded columns just above the river. Read More>

Oct 5, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

Esmereldas & Crossing the Equator, Ecuador

After a frenetic first week of our trip a leisurely day at sea was welcome. Before breakfast was over we had cleared Ecuadorian customs, picked up a group of local musicians for an evening performance, and we were on our way to the Equator. While Kike Calvo gave a talk on his career as a photographer, involving his life and work in South America over several years, our guests reflected on their own photographic experiences in Panama and Colombia. In the late afternoon we approached the Equator. Read More>

Oct 4, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in South American West Coast

Astoria, Fort Clatsop & Cape Disappointment

This amazing day started with a gorgeous sunrise at the mouth of the river and the Pacific Ocean at the Columbia Bar. After stretching, bird watching from the bow, and waking up with delicious coffee beverages and breakfast, we all disembarked from National Geographic Sea Bird in Astoria, OR and motor-coached over to nearby Fort Clatsop Nation Park. A wondrous place not only full of history pertaining to the Lewis & Clark expedition, but also a stunning natural site full of temperate rain forest plants and animals. After this excursion we all grouped together at the Astoria Maritime Museum to learn of the unique and hazardous history of the Columbia Bar. Lunch was delightful back on board! The afternoon was full of more history and learning at the Lewis & Clark interpretive center across the bridge in the state of Washington near Cape Disappointment. Read More>

Oct 4, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Pacific Northwest

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