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At sea to Australia

Our final day at sea before steaming for Darwin started early for a small but dedicated group of guests who braved an early start to catch the Zodiac from the National Geographic Orion across to Com, Timor Leste, to complete the technical stop for this journey. On the wharf at Com we were greeted by an enthusiastic group of local vendors selling some of the local textiles and souvenirs that this area is recognized for. Under torchlight the guests wandered between the stalls, looking for that special something to remind them of this brief visit to Timor Leste. Once formalities were completed, we were whisked back to the ship to steam back to Darwin.

To complement the busy days we spent exploring the amazing sights of the Kimberley, the expedition team packed this day with a variety of presentations and hands-on workshops to enhance the guests’ appreciation of the biodiversity and maritime history of this area and improve their photographic techniques to better capture the memories of their journey.

Jul 30, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Inian Islands & Fox Creek

This morning’s adventures started early as we pulled into Idaho Inlet on the north end of Chichagof Island looking for wildlife. Overnight the weather settled into dense fog, obscuring the shoreline and any chance of spotting wildlife. As we cruised back into Icy Strait, the fog lifted to expose the Inian Islands, the last spots of land before heading into the open Pacific Ocean.

We spent our morning exploring the coastline of the Inian Islands in our inflatable boats, watching one of nature’s finest spectacles; a feeding frenzy created by a massive 12-foot tidal flush through the narrow gaps of these islands.

Jul 29, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

We were lucky that rain didn’t drop through the overcast as the low guttural roars of northern sea lions announced our approach to South Marble Island. This bird island has black oystercatchers and pigeon guillemots along with nesting black-legged kittiwakes and glaucous-winged gulls, but the favorites are always tufted puffins. Puffins possess outrageously large and colorful bills that make them the most intriguing member of a family of seabirds named the Alcids. These are northern hemisphere counterparts of penguins, although all the living species retain the ability to fly. 

An exciting encounter unfolded as we entered Tidal Inlet.

Jul 29, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Punta Vicente Roca & Fernandina Island

We are almost at the beginning of our Galapagos Islands exploration. Along the way different landscapes and wildlife have been spotted by our guests. The island of Isabela was our next destination, and Lynn Fowler, our expedition leader, had an organized schedule for the morning in Punta Vicente Roca. The first activity consisted of a one hour Zodiac ride in search of the elusive flightless cormorant and the ocean sunfish. From the beginning to the end many were found quite far away of the shoreline. I decided to jump in with the underwater camera in a failed attempt to capture some short footage of them. 

After a short time we really had to push through the morning with so many things to see out there.

Jul 29, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Crossing the Timor Sea

At last a day of rest! Well, not quite.

Perhaps a rest for the body, but not for the mind, for there was a series of stimulating lectures all throughout this day at sea.

Jul 29, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Pavlof Harbor and Freshwater Bay

There is no such thing as a typical schedule aboard an expedition ship; almost by definition it is a constantly evolving itinerary that is subject to change. There is always a plan, but it is a plan to deviate from the moment the unplanned, sometimes literally, appears on the horizon. Today was a day that couldn’t have been imagined, let alone planned, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we are truly on an expedition. 

A mother bear and a pair of “roly-poly” cubs in the morning mist before breakfast gave way to almost a dozen huge humpback whales cooperatively feeding as a group.

Jul 28, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

George Island & the Inians

We woke up this morning to some delicious true Alaska weather with a light rain falling over  the temperate rain forest and low clouds intertwining with the ghostly shapes of Sitka spruces and western hemlocks. Only the occasional harbor porpoise or a solitary Steller sea lion broke the calm waters ahead of the National Geographic Sea Bird as we sailed towards our morning destination at George Island. Located to the north of the much larger Chichagof Island, George Island is a small but very interesting place, and we explored it using kayaks, expedition landing craft, and our own legs. Many of us went hiking looking for the many natural beauties of George Island as well as for the historical remains on it, as this is the place where a small group of soldiers guarded the entrance of the Inside Passage during WWII.  

After leaving George Island, we headed to Elfin Cove, which is a very small and picturesque fishing settlement nearby; we had the chance to walk around this boardwalk community, talk to its friendly residents, and learn about their unique lifestyle.

Jul 28, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Bartolome and Rabida Islands

We started our day with an optional wake-up call to get to the top of Bartolome Island and see one of the most spectacular views in Galapagos. This Island is relatively small compared with the main ones, but its geological formations along the way are really impressive. As we were gaining altitude the view was better and better with every step up. At some point we had the impression of being inside the volcano, able to study and understand how these oceanic islands were formed.  

Once at the top of Bartolome Island we got our price.

Jul 28, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Heimaey & Surtsey Vestmannaeyar, Iceland

We spent the morning at sea, making our way toward Vestmannaeyar, an archipelago of 15 small islands lying off the southwestern coast of Iceland. Named after slaves taken from the British Isles by the Vikings, the main island Heimaey has been inhabited since the 10th century. Tim Severin, our Global Perspectives guest speaker, captivated us with the second part of the account of his voyage across the North Atlantic from Iceland to Newfoundland in a small skin-hulled boat, following in the fabled wake of the Irish saint known as St. Brendan the Navigator.

Shortly before lunch the small island of Surtsey was spotted.

Jul 28, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Fernandina and Isabela Islands

Continuing with our expedition aboard National Geographic Endeavour navigating through Galápagos National Park, today we visited the two geologically youngest islands in the western realms of the archipelago. 

Not many ships are fortunate enough to come this far west to visit one of the volcanically most active places on earth.

Jul 28, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

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

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