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King George River, Tranquil Beach, and Calamity Cove

Today we met the wild side of the Kimberley. Our gangway is now stowed for the duration of our journey together and in its place the Zodiacs are revved up and ready to go. Eager to take advantage of every possible minute in this beautiful coastal wilderness, many of us were up and away by 0600 this morning and by 0800 we were all on our way. Read More>

Jul 1, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Wyndham

When visiting a town like Wyndham, the vastness of Australia immediately feels apparent. So many of us have come from “the other side” of the country, or even the other side of the planet. We are visiting this area that is like nowhere else. We had different options for the day to discover it further, with an excursion going on the Ord River dam, flights over the Bungle Bungle Ranges, and a tour of the town of Wyndham itself. Those who went on the Ord River Dam were certainly not disappointed. Read More>

Jun 30, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

At Sea, Greenland Sea

After four very busy and extremely successful days in Svalbard it was time to head southwest towards eastern Greenland. Ahead of us are two full days at sea and we are following the edge of the famous Vestisen (‘West Ice’, named so as it is west of Norway), creeping along the coast of eastern Greenland. It is heavy multi-year sea ice, drifting out from the Arctic Ocean and into the Greenland Sea, which originates from eastern Siberia and guarded the Greenland coast hidden from visitors until recently. Already Frithjof Nansen in 1882 was able to establish the origin of the ice while he was onboard the ship Vikingen, by collecting sediment on the ice, which confirmed it came from northeastern Siberia. He never reached the coast, because of the ice, and returned to Norway very unhappy. Later with a lot of experience and knowledge that would prove to be of immense importance to his career as an Arctic explorer, he became the first to cross the Greenland icecap in 1888. The first European to ever get close to the coast by penetrating this ice ‘wall’ and sight the northeast coast of Greenland was Henry Hudson in 1607, who got close enough to see some of the peaks, and apply the first ever set place name here, Hold with Hope. Read More>

Jun 29, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Kelp Bay and Pavlof Harbor

Southeast Alaska welcomed us this morning with her typical finicky behavior—rain turned into heavy fog which turned into low-hanging clouds which turned into mostly cloudy skies with brilliant patches of sunshine. As we cruised through Kelp Bay we were greeted by the sight of a humpback whale cow and calf. The water was flat and the winds were calm so their misty blows hovered in the air for seconds before disappearing. Their hypnotic movements were a calming way to start our day. A brief bear sighting in the late morning delayed our introduction to digital photography presentation, but our photo instructor, Sharon Grainger, managed to squeeze it in before lunch.  The afternoon found us at Pavlof Harbor with choices to make—should we explore the temperate rainforest on foot with the natural history staff? Should we take advantage of the perfect weather conditions and enjoy a leisurely paddle in the kayaks? Or should we hop aboard one of the expedition landing crafts and take a scenic cruise around the area? Whichever option we chose, we were rewarded. Read More>

Jun 29, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

At Sea—Timor to Wyndham

An explosive sunrise greeted early risers as National Geographic Orion steamed towards Australia from the tropical islands to her North, heralding a day to look forward to—of relaxation, conversation, education, and celebration on the high seas. Our wellness specialist Kat drew an enthusiastic crowd of participants to begin this day with her popular stretch class on the upper sun deck. A delightful open air breakfast followed in the fresh surrounds of the outdoor café, setting the scene for a day of engaging activities, all at an easy and social holiday pace. Read More>

Jun 29, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Bartolomé and Rábida Islands

It has been an enjoyable day filled with activities in the Galapagos.  We started before sunrise, heading to the top of Bartolome Island.  This small Island is very well known for its distinct geological formations and the amazing view from the top of the Island. With every step we climbed the view just got better and better. Read More>

Jun 29, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Fernandina

The two youngest islands in Galapagos lie in the western region of the archipelago. Read More>

Jun 29, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Pavlof Harbor

On the first day of the expedition our guests woke up with whales! Humpback whales hungrily fed alongside National Geographic Sea Bird as the ship cruised towards Pavlof Harbor, where afternoon activities would take place. Humpback whales exhibit a behavior called bubblenet feeding, which is usually a group activity, but in this case we witnessed a solo activity. Bubblenet feeding involves a ring of bubbles, created by the whale or whales, which will encompass their prey and induce a false barrier which most small fish and krill will not cross. This “net” shunts their prey to the surface in a panic, where the animals will feed in one big gulp. In groups this is a very social behavior, where each animal takes on a different task and they work together towards a common goal; the gulp. Only in Southeast Alaska does bubblenetting exist—we were very lucky to see some individual bubblenet feeding this morning. Once the ship arrived to Pavlof Harbor the anchor dropped and activities quickly began. Read More>

Jun 28, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

At Sea, Timor Sea

This morning, we were able to have a nice sleep-in as the National Geographic Orion travelled north to Com, East Timor. Sea conditions were kind to us, and  most of us were up and enjoying the sunrise, while others hit the gym for a morning workout or joined Kat for morning stretches.  At 0800, our expedition leader Adam Cropp played the beautiful song “What a Wonderful World” before updating us on our position and the weather. Read More>

Jun 28, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Northeastern Spitsbergen, Fugelfjorden, Smeerenburgfjorden, Amsterdamøya

At 0630 hrs the National Geographic Explorer is sailing into Fugelfjorden, “Bird Fjord,” toward Svitjodbreen (breen means glacier), an exit glacier from Valsahvøya icecap to the south. Bold, dark mountains carved by ice into sharp peaks rise steeply on either side. Cirques, cut into those mountains by glaciers, brim with ice and snow within while heaps of glacial till spill out of their lower edges. Snow and ice come right down to the sea; this is fitting, for Spitsbergen means “sharp peaks” and Svalbard “cold shores.” Above this lead-gray arm of the sea, low clouds hide the highest mountains. Soon Svitjodbreen is obscured by fog and a keening wind whips around outside the bridge, carrying whirling snowflakes. There will be no Zodiac operations here in these conditions. We turn and sail for Bjornfjorden in the lower reaches of Smeerenburgfjorden. Here the broad calving face of Smeerenburgbreen rises 60 meters above the sea water in the fjord. Soon we hear a loud cracking sound and a giant chunk of ice falls with a roar off the face of the glacier, sending out a great wave and leaving a big blue patch on the freshly exposed ice of the calving face. While waiting in hopes of another calving event we are astonished to see a great skua, the fiercest predatory bird in Svalbard, drive an arctic tern right into the water in a vicious attack that kills the tern. The skua then tears into the tern, having breakfast right there on the water between the ship and the glacier. We sail back to Fugelfjorden, now free of fog, and here 28 hardy (foolhardy?) souls take the polar plunge, leaping from a platform mounted on the side of the ship into the gelid waters in front of Svijodbreen. Read More>

Jun 28, 2015 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.