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Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon

National Geographic Orion spent the night at anchor close to Weno Island in the eastern part of the Chuuk Lagoon.

Apr 23, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia

Clear skies and moderate seas greeted us as we woke to another beautiful day on the National Geographic Orion.

Apr 22, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Isabela and Fernandina Islands

The ocean was calm and there was a pleasant breeze coming from the giant volcanoes of the sea horse shaped island, known as Isabela. National Geographic Islander navigated along the coastline, allowing us to enjoy the incredible geology, while some others got to spot a few ocean birds skimming the surface for planktonic species!

 After breakfast, we crossed the Equator line and were baptized with the permission of King Neptune; all of us became shellbacks.

Apr 22, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

At sea to Micronesia

For a very brief instant our location became very simple as we bisected the planet into equal parts north and south.

Apr 21, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Bartolome and Rabida Islands

It is our second day of our adventure here in the enchanted islands.

Apr 21, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Fernandina Island

What a wonderful feeling it is to wake up to some magnificent landscapes of shield volcanos leaning over calm seas. We have traveled all night and have reached the western islands of the Galapagos, the most remote and pristine of all. We were accompanied for a short while by a pod of common dolphins, some of which jumped, displaying fantastic acrobatics. Soon we dropped anchor at Punta Espinosa, north of Fernandina. This is the youngest island of the archipelago, and once we set foot ashore we realized how hostile this environment is. There are black basaltic flows all over the place and little vegetation. However, several species have managed to colonize this area, and particularly the marine iguanas seem to do really well here. All along the trail we found dozens of them, if not hundreds, basking in the sun. As their bodies warmed up, many of them started making their way into the ocean to look for the algae that they feed on. A small colony of flightless cormorants also live in this area, a unique species that has traded its ability to fly to become even better divers. Some Galapagos sea lions rested on the sand or played in the tidal pools, and a couple of Galapagos hawks witnessed the whole scenario while perching at the top of some mangrove trees. Punta Espinosa certainly feels like a place out of this world, rather timeless. 

By midday we were already navigating northbound towards Punta Vicente Roca, on Isabela Island.

Apr 21, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Los Islotes and Bonanza Bay

This morning we woke up listening to guttural sounds nearby; always ready to explore, we boarded our expedition landing craft before sunrise and approached the ghostly and whitish shape off the ship. Los Islotes is a guano-covered rock located in the northern portion of the Espiritu Santo Island Complex Biosphere Reserve, a natural protected area and a wonderful place to watch and enjoy wildlife.  

It is also home to a breeding colony of California sea lions, whose varied calls we heard in the dark.

Apr 20, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Baja California

Kavieng, Papua New Guinea

Our final day in Papua New Guinea was another day for me to be underwater.  For the last few days, we have been exploring some of the most diverse and healthy reefs in the world.  Filled with abundant fish-life and colorful corals, Papua New Guinea is a paradise for snorkelers and divers.  Today, the SCUBA divers got to enjoy two very different dive sites. 

Our first dive was on an outer reef at a site called blowhole.

Apr 20, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

North Seymour and Rábida Islands

Last night we anchored in front of North Seymour Island in the central realm of the archipelago and had a nice calm night. This morning we headed ashore to explore this island and right from the very beginning we were greeted by Galapagos sea lions and colorful Sally lightfoot crabs. As we walked further inland the vegetation looked dry as the rainy season is almost over.  This is the best time of the year to find male great frigate birds in full mating season. Males inflate a red color membrane that resembles a bright red balloon and then move their wings and make loud sounds to get the attention of females.

As we looked at frigates and their colorful pouches we also encounter blue footed boobies also busy with their always entertaining courtship rituals.

Apr 20, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Rao Island, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

Sometimes our fantasies of paradise suddenly pop out of the realm of dreams and appear right in front of us, just waiting for us to walk in, pull up a cocktail and kick back in the shade of the palm trees.  This morning we could see it all coming true right before our eyes as we approached tiny Rao Island, off the northern tip of New Ireland.  Rao is a perfect vision of a tiny tropical island – a few palm trees, one big casuarina where a pair of osprey were nesting and a golden sand beach, all enclosed by a beautiful coral reef and crystal blue water.  On the side of the island opposite our anchorage lines of white breakers were curling in from the Pacific.

Our morning began with a delicious plunge into the sea from the anchored platform, swimming or snorkeling along the edge of the reef.

Apr 19, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

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