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Talbot Bay

Day two of the northbound leg of the Kimberley trip had the National Geographic Orion thread her way through the aptly named island chain called ‘the Narrows’ to enter Talbot Bay and anchor between Slug Island and the McLarty Ranges. Upon arrival the National Geographic Orion and her guests were greeted by some of the locals – two large tawny nurse sharks which swam right up to the marina deck, entertaining everyone with their beauty and natural grace.

One of the reasons to visit Talbot Bay was to view the spectacle of the Horizontal Waterfalls, locally known as the ‘Horries.

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

Red Bluff Bay & Lake Eva Trail

Today was a day of changing speeds. It began with an almost mystical quality as we entered Red Bluff Bay during the early hours. Hardly a breath of air stirred the water as we reveled at the hidden entrance that opened into a serene lovely sanctuary that we enjoyed until breakfast was served.

A few hours later our guest speaker Dr.

Jul 22, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Floreana Island

We spent the whole day at Floreana Island in three different locations. Even though they are very close together, they look very different from each other. And in order to accomplish our program we had to start our day with a pre-breakfast activity, first we hiked over compacted volcanic ash. It was a very easy trail and suitable for everyone onboard the National Geographic Islander

We disembarked on a volcanic material beach with a high concentration of olivine crystals, that is the reason this beach is known as a green beach.

Jul 22, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Latrabjarg Cliffs and Flatey, Iceland

We awoke to a misty, moist first morning as we made our approach to the spectacular Latrabjarg cliffs of Iceland’s rugged northwestern shores. These ledged cliffs are perfectly formed to house a major colony of razorbills and other members of the auk family, including Atlantic puffin and black guillemot. Rich feeding grounds were much in evidence with balls of mackerel at every turn and, in spite of the misty conditions, there were good bird sightings including red-necked phalarope in addition to numerous fulmar and kittiwake.

Our afternoon destination was the historic community of Flatey.

Jul 22, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz is where our expedition took place today. It is the second largest island in Galápagos, yet the most populated. To be able to visit an island with those features gave our guests a very unique experience during this week because in addition to seeing the marvelous flora and fauna, they were able to get to know more about the local people. 

The iconic species of the Galapagos Islands was seen for the first time on our expedition, “the giant tortoise.

Jul 22, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Yampi Sound, the Kimberley, Australia

National Geographic Orion anchored in the scenic Yampi Sound, amid the 800+ islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago.  Three of those islands, including the rich and famous Cockatoo and Koolan have substantial iron ore mines.  Laid down as a series of sedimentary deposits over a billion years ago, the sandstone is sometimes interspersed by a layer of much softer, gray siltstone.  This entire rock formation has been bent and buckled over great spans of time, forming synclines, anticlines and Calvin Klines.  Because this area may have been along an orogenous zone between two landmasses that were smooched together, much of the rock has been turned on its side, and stands vertically.   

Our morning started leisurely, with ‘breakkie’ and a briefing.

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

Tracy Arm and Williams Cove

This morning we arrived in Tracy Arm, which is a glacially-carved fjord cut into the mainland of Southeast Alaska. During the maximum extent of the last ice age, the glacier extended far down the valley and after the glacier melted, the deep valley was flooded by the sea. The clouds had lifted enough to see the high peaks above, which still contained late-season snowpack.  The presence of icebergs floating in the fjord indicated that tidewater glaciers must be nearby. The clear blue color of many of the icebergs made them look like precious gemstones and some icebergs had fanciful shapes that made them appear to be carved by an ice sculptor.

National Geographic Sea Lion rounded the bend and maneuvered close to Hole in the Wall Waterfall.

Jul 21, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Le Conte Bay & Petersburg

When do you start out blue and end up black and white? In Le Conte Bay we started our morning cruising amongst the sapphire burgs calved by Le Conte glacier, then we received a radio call from our ship that killer whales had just crossed the terminal moraine and were heading towards us. Awesome.

Our focus went from sculpted ice bobbing in the bay to a pod of at least five killer whales swimming up the fjord.

Jul 21, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Española Island

It is our second day in paradise and Mother Nature has delighted us with many species that are unique to the Galapagos and Española Island itself. Our guests appreciated the perspective that came from seeing the oldest island in the Galapagos. 

Our morning started early with a kayak outing, the rocky coastline of Gardner Bay was treasured gracefully.

Jul 21, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Floreana Island

It is our third day of exploration around the enchanted islands of Galapagos. Today we got up early for a walk on Cormorant Point. The walk was for avid nature lovers as well as those interested in photography. Our adventure started at a greenish inorganic beach with coarse sand made of olivine, a crystal common in basalt formation and some other pieces of basalt, cinders and shells. After a medium-short walk along a smooth path winding through a dry landscape we spotted many land birds like flycatchers and finches. We ended at a completely different beach, here the sand is fine, almost flowery and white. The primary material here is calcium carbonate; the left-over product of coral colonies and ground shells. Just behind the highest tide mark, embedded in low dunes we see few tracks made by some female green sea turtles. This beach is an important nesting site for green pacific marine turtles in the archipelago. 

We headed back to the beach and we took another path that took us to a pretty big brackish water lagoon.

Jul 21, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

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