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Isla Magdalena & at Sea

After a night of smooth sailing south on the open Pacific, the National Geographic Sea Bird changed course to enter Magdalena Bay for a morning ashore at Punta Belcher. On our approach, thousands of elegant terns called and wheeled overhead and in the distance. This was a surprise, as we usually expect to encounter these birds at or near their primary breeding grounds on Isla Rasa in the Sea of Cortez. It was a spectacular sight.   After anchoring, we headed for shore to investigate. Read More>

Mar 25, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

At Sea

Our day at sea began with two talks. I gave the first talk, entitled “Revolution in Song: Music & Resistance in Apartheid South Africa.” This presentation used songs to illustrate the role music played in resisting apartheid from 1948 through 1994 and beyond. Music communicated news during a time when it was very difficult for black journalists to write openly about apartheid in South Africa. It was also a way to create a feeling of solidarity and emotional bonds among South African people. Songs are a powerful way to communicate, because we can understand the sentiment even if we do not speak the language of the lyrics. Today, music continues to play an important cultural role in South Africa, as the country faces new challenges. The 46664 concerts, named after Nelson Mandela’s prison number, raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the country and spread hope for treatment and cure.  Following this was a talk by Chris Rainier, National Geographic photographer and Fellow, entitled “Cultures on the Edge: Documenting the 21st Century. Read More>

Mar 25, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Southern Africa & the Indian Ocean

Isabela Island

We navigated just a short distance during the early morning hours from our calm anchorage at Fernandina to Urbina Bay at the base of Volcan Alcedo, Isabela Island. Following a hearty breakfast we disembarked on a small, steep black sand beach and had a choice of taking a nature/photo walk or a longer/2 mile exercise excursion. Everyone put on their walking shoes and we headed inland following a sandy trail.   Urbina is especially interesting because this area was uplifted several meters in 1953-1954. Read More>

Mar 25, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Santiago Island

The Galapagos expedition brought us to the center of the archipelago today. Santiago Island was our destination, and in order to begin our journey, we disembarked at Espumilla Beach. After a comfortable wet landing on a brown colored beach, we started exploring the mangrove forest found in the area.  The presence of yellow warblers and Galapagos mockingbirds surprised us for a delightful photo opportunity.  Farther into the trail, an impressive incense tree forest decorated our path with exuberant vegetation. Read More>

Mar 25, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Urbina Bay & Tagus Cove

Heading south along the western coast of the island of Isabela, we come across a really special visitor site, where the idea is to spend the morning close to the most iconic organism on land you find in this archipelago. All explorers on board are excited to explore Urbina Bay, and the path that we are exploring this morning is located at the foot of Alcedo volcano, one of five large volcanos in the largest island. Read More>

Mar 24, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

San Ignacio Lagoon

Our second day at San Ignacio Lagoon began with more blue skies, sunshine, and plenty of excited anticipation. We returned to the mouth of the broad lagoon with our inflatable boats to search for gray whales. This morning we found an even greater numbers of whales. The ocean tides were flooding into the lagoon as we arrived at an area where groups of mother whales, each with their calf beside them, were swimming along in the tidal rip currents. Like side-by-side runners on treadmills at a gym, this appeared to be mothers exercising their calves to build their muscles for the long journey ahead. These young calves and their mothers would soon be departing the protected waters of San Ignacio Lagoon to begin their 5,000 mile journey northward to arctic waters. With our boats we were able cruise slowly alongside them as they swam in place into the current, with multiple whales continually popping up around us in every direction.   In addition to plenty of close spectacular sightings, there was a lot of spy-hopping behavior, as well as occasional head-slapping, fluking, and some friendly behavior with whales coming to visit within arm’s reach to be petted. Read More>

Mar 24, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Baja California

Mosselbaai, South Africa

Mosselbaai is a small port town on South Africa’s southern cape. With an economy based on tourism, the area has many beautiful and interesting locations to stop by along the way.  As the National Geographic Orion came into port, the group set out with an expeditionary style, ready to take on the day with a variety of different activities. The busy itinerary included a visit to the local museum, a trip to the cave of Cape St. Blaize, and a visit to the Heart to Heart association, which assists underprivileged youth. The museum of Mosselbaai pays tribute to the remarkable historical landmark that is this very city. Read More>

Mar 24, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Southern Africa & the Indian Ocean

Isabela and Fernandina Islands

Baptized in honor of Fernando de Aragon and Isabel de Castilla, King and Queen of Spain late 1490’s, Fernandina and Isabela are the youngest islands with the most active volcanos in the Galapagos. Certainly, the two last eruptions in the archipelago occurred in 2005 and 2009 on both islands. After sailing from Rabida, we started our day early in the morning, exploring the calm seas west of Isabela in search of marine life. We were surprised by a pod of dolphins jumping and traveling together, heading to the southern side of Isabela Island while in the distance the gigantic Ecuador volcano looked clouded and colored by the first beams of sun.  After breakfast the National Geographic Islander crossed the equator and our guests, commemorating this change of hemisphere, did the limbo underneath a string of Ecuadorian flags. As soon we arrived via Zodiacs to Punta Vicente Roca, we headed to the seashore where we were able to spot flightless cormorants nesting along the coast, green sea turtles, fur and Galapagos sea lions. Read More>

Mar 24, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Cape Town, Gaansbaai, Fernkloof, Hermanus and Gordon’s Bay, South Africa

Our day began in true expedition style.  Last night, gale force winds had closed the harbor at Cape Town before we could sail, so instead of waking up at anchor off Hermanus we found ourselves still alongside the dock where we boarded the ship the previous afternoon.  No problem.  Tim and Linnea had made all the necessary arrangements, the coach drivers and guides who were waiting in Hermanus were up and on the road back to Cape Town at 4:00 a.m. and by 6:30 a.m. the first of us was on our way, just as planned. The ride up to Gaansbaai and Hermanus proved to be an unexpected highlight. Read More>

Mar 23, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Southern Africa & the Indian Ocean

Fernandina and Isabela Islands

After crossing the Equator at night, we reached the north of Isabela Island early this morning. Here, the frigid waters of the deep equatorial countercurrent rise up along the western edge of the undersea Galápagos platform. This upwelling brings extraordinary conditions for rich marine wildlife, including whales and dolphins that are often found around this area. Today was no exception, as we encountered a large group of common dolphins that we followed for a while. It was a pod of probably 300/400 individuals, adults and juveniles, jumping and possible feeding. After this incredible early experience, we landed at Fernandina Island, the world's largest pristine island and the youngest of all the islands in the archipelago. Read More>

Mar 23, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

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Daily Expedition Report Information

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