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Santa Cruz Island

Today was an outstanding day on Santa Cruz Island.  The weather was perfect!  The sky was clear, the sun was shining, but it was not hot –at the end of the day it even felt a little bit cool.  Conditions couldn’t have been more suitable for our excursion’s goal: getting to see Galapagos giant tortoises. Some of our guests decided to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park Service facilities. Read More>

Jul 28, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Surtsey & Heimaey

By mid-morning, National Geographic Explorer had reached the volcanic islands in the Westman Archipelago off the southern reaches of Iceland. We went straight to Surtsey and circumnavigated it for some amazing views of the island’s geology. The variable patterns, shapes, and colors made for wonderful photographic opportunities (Figure A). This island is world renowned in that it suddenly appeared in late 1963 when a series of underwater eruptions built up a new land mass through the accumulation of volcanic debris that rose from the sea floor at a depth of 120 meters (400 feet) to reach a height of 170 meters (560 feet) above sea level. It has been a scientist’s dream, in that it has allowed researchers to observe a sterile, new bit of landmass slowly take on life. Over time, various lichens, fungi, mosses, and vascular plants, as well as invertebrates and nesting seabirds eventually took hold on the ash deposits of the volcanic island. In the meantime, erosion has formed some impressive sea cliffs and decreased the overall size of the island by half over the past 50 years. As our ship moved off from Surtsey, a call went out…killer whales! So, we headed in their direction for a closer look. Read More>

Jul 28, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Vega and Visten Fjord, Norway

Progressing ever southwards, our exploration of the coast and fjords of Norway continued this morning with a visit to the charming island of Vega. Its population of just over 1220 people live mostly from farming, and in 2004 the Vega archipelago was granted World Heritage status, because of the importance of its cultural heritage and landscape, and in particular, its traditions of eider down production. We were taken around by local guides who delighted and inspired us with their knowledge of their environment and their deep connection with their distinctive inheritance. On walks around the island we learned how the islands had emerged from the sea 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age, forming the most developed ‘strand flat’ in the world, which is still rising at a rate of about five centimetres a year. We also learned how the acidic granites and the alkali sedimentary deposits had formed ideal conditions for wild flowers. We discovered four different kinds of orchids, in addition to a profusion of other flowering plants in all their diversity, while herons and the occasional eagle flew overhead. In the main settlement of Nes, a museum and visitor centre provided us with wonderful insights into traditional and modern life in this community and, no less wonderful, provided us with another opportunity to enjoy waffles with all the trimmings in a lovely Norwegian setting. Read More>

Jul 28, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Le Conte Glacier & Petersburg

If the word tranquility was assigned a color, it would assuredly be glacier blue. Setting out in our trusty inflatable boats we left the cozy comfort of National Geographic Sea Bird to explore the terminal moraine of La Conte glacier. A terminal moraine is the furthest point of advancement of a glacier, as it pushes through miles of landscape, bulldozing in front of it collected loose sediment. Upon its eventual retreat, this mass of rock and dirt is left as a significant topographical feature, and in this case acts as a prominent sand bar to the mouth of La Conte fjord. In this case the moraine has created a shallow band of water that at low tide strands larger icebergs that have calved off the face of the glacier and floated miles out toward the ocean. These huge hunks of frozen ice will remain stuck until the tide rises or they meet their inevitable fate as they melt and break apart in the comparatively tepid 40 degree Fahrenheit waters. While fascinating from a geological perspective (and let’s be honest, what isn’t?), this setting is nothing short of stunning visually. Read More>

Jul 28, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Kelp Bay & Red Bluff Bay, Baranov Island

After cruising through the night, National Geographic Sea Lion explorers awoke in the calm waters of beautiful Kelp Bay. Several guest explorers bushwhacked through the Alaskan blueberry, huckleberry and Sitka alder to explore an old growth forest dotted with 200-300 year old Sitka spruce and western hemlocks. Sphagnum moss blanketed the spongy ground with numerous species of mushrooms passively turning the dead forest into the nutrients needed to support the emerging seedlings of a diverse understory. With great effort guest explorers slogged their way to interior wetlands and muskegs to witness the plant diversity of one of Alaska’s most common biomes. Meanwhile, other explorers ventured out in kayaks to watch sea otters and harbor seals rollick about Kelp Bay. Once the early morning explorers traded places with the early kayakers, and all seemed to be enjoying pleasant walks and paddles when suddenly a loud noise rang out—or did it? Those in kayaks were pleasantly surprised to see a humpback whale completely breach and then slam the water with percussive force. Hikers were baffled by the “bang”; however, all quickly preceded to the intertidal zone to witness either the 2nd or 3rd humpback breach. Expedition landing craft riders were fortunate to trail the humpback from the 100 yard distance mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This humpback continued to slap the water with its fins, perhaps playing, perhaps jarring krill that it then captured while feeding. After all aboard, Birgit Buhleier, National Geographic Expert, shared her National Geographic sponsored “Critter-Cam” research wherein a camera is glued to dorsal side of a humpback whale to document their behavior. Read More>

Jul 28, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Santiago Island

After spending two days on the western realm of Galapagos the National Geographic Endeavour arrived today to the central area of the archipelago. Early this morning, we anchored in the area of Espumilla Bay, located on the western side of Santiago Island. Our day began with a wet landing on a sandy beach, and from there we started our walk to the top of a small cone. While walking through the button mangrove forest, we observed some small land birds such as small ground finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, and Galapagos doves. Some of our guests took the option of the photography walk along the coast and found the many nests of the green sea turtles built several weeks ago. Another great sighting this morning was the Galapagos hawk; this is the top predator in Galapagos and it often hangs around the turtle’s nesting area. At the end of the walks we returned aboard and navigated during breakfast to Buccaneer’s Cove, where we spent the rest of the morning exploring the coast and the underwater world from the glass-bottom boat, or by kayaking or snorkeling in deep waters. Read More>

Jul 27, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Nordfjord

We woke up this morning surrounded by a light, dewy mist amidst the high mountains of Nordfjord. The atmosphere was mystical and the staff set out to offer a variety of activities, including Zodiac cruises, bushwhacking, beach strolling, as well as kayaking in the calm and blue water of the fjord.  As we get out of the water we find the galley team already on shore collecting mussels for dinner and the birthday boy Teddy rodfishing from a Zodiac. Read More>

Jul 27, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Isabela

Isabela is the largest island of the Galapagos made up of five and a half volcanos with most of them still active. In the morning we set out for a hike in a place called Urbina Bay. Read More>

Jul 27, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Lake Eva, Chatham Strait & Red Bluff Bay

Traveling south from Glacier Bay overnight, we traversed Chatham Strait and made our way along the east side of Chichagof Island. Our misty morning focused on Lake Eva and the surrounding temperate rain forest dominated by Sitka spruce and western hemlock. Kayakers explored the dynamic tidal lagoon, where river outflow from the lake meets the ocean.  Paddling on a falling tide, they skirted a salt marsh, gravel spit, and the lower reaches of the estuary. Because this river provides ideal habitat for both adult spawning and juvenile development, it supports salmon runs of multiple species through the summer and fall seasons. Others of our group enjoyed walks of varied lengths through the stands of both second and old growth forest; a few brave individuals even went for a swim in chilly Lake Eva! The complexity of the old growth forest creates many habitats, supporting thousands of species from soil microbes to insects to lichens to small mammals and bats. Read More>

Jul 27, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Delos, Greece

We spent our morning exploring the fascinating island of Delos, a key religious and political center of the Cycladic world. Revered as the birthplace of Apollo, god of the sun, the island is said to be bathed in exceptionally bright sunlight; although that was the case today, a strong breeze kept us relatively cool as we toured the expansive site. In the sacred quarter of Delos, shrines and temples dating from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic era attest to a steady stream of pilgrims throughout antiquity. Although uninhabited today, the island boasts some of the best preserved remains of Hellenistic residential structures. Read More>

Jul 27, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

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

 

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