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Old Massett, Haida Gwaii

Today was one of those days that blow your socks off! It was a day steeped in Haida culture, from start to finish. After an early breakfast we hit the road by school bus, heading north from the Queen Charlotte City dock. The drive across the island was beautiful, with low clouds, intermittent rain and sun, a rugged coastline, and thick forest. After passing through a couple small communities, we arrived in Old Massett. We had amazing opportunities to experience firsthand the mastery and artwork of Haida totems. Read More>

Sep 17, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

British Columbia’s Inside Passage

The forests draped in misty low clouds that cover the vast fjord lands of coastal British Columbia are wondrous and mesmerizing. As we cruise through narrow waterways and around innumerable islands, it is enjoyable to imagine the great cedar canoes near the edges of the land, paddles dipping into the deep green ovoid reflections. For thousands of years, the people of the Northwest coast have made long seafaring journeys to feast and to trade, to celebrate births and mourn the passing of elders. Watching from the bow of the National Geographic Sea Bird and contemplating the Great Bear Rain Forest passing by us, I am grateful for the descendants of the people of the salmon and the sea, the new generations embracing the traditions of their ancestors and bringing them into a new light. Early settlers left evidence of their presence here as well. Read More>

Sep 17, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

St John’s, Newfoundland

The sea approach to St John’s is a spectacular one, a protected deep-water harbor, almost concealed from view, entered through a narrow channel. Once inside, vistas of the charming provincial capital open up; colorful plank-board houses bedecked with flowers rising up the steep hillsides, looking east to the early morning sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean. It is entirely appropriate that St John’s should face the ocean in this way for its history and that of the province have, as we have discovered, revolved around fishing in general and codfish in particular. The soils of Newfoundland are largely unsuited for agricultural production and the climate is harsh.   The story of the fishery was well told in the impressive cultural facility known as The Rooms, with a bilingual exhibit in English and Gaelic. Read More>

Sep 17, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Canada

Cerro Dragon & Daphne Major Islet

After spending the previous whole day in the southern part of Santa Cruz Island, today we had a chance to spend the whole day on the northern side of the same Island. Even though it is the same volcano, the ecological condition is very different from one side to the other. This natural phenomenon occurs because the prevailing winds come from the southeast, bringing all the moisture from the Pacific Ocean, which is trapped in the south slope of the island. Meanwhile, the northern side receives very little precipitation. This applies to the entire archipelago.  The Galapagos flora and fauna have adapted to surviving under harsh conditions. Read More>

Sep 17, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

SGang Gwaay (Ninstints), Anthony Island

As you step onto the shore of SGang Gwaay, you are instantly transported to another world, another time. The forest is alive with light and color. The only sound that can be heard is the call of ravens in the canopy above. Below, spruce and cedar roots elegantly curve around giant rocks; mosses and lichens blanket the ground and fallen trees, the forest’s method of reclaiming itself in that beautiful and never-ending cycle of life.  This is no ordinary forest. Read More>

Sep 16, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

At Sea

Waking up in the morning I realized that the winds had picked up. At last Zeus was favoring us with strong winds for excellent sailing from the Ionian Sea approaching the Aegean. We could see Kythera as we sailed along the southern coastline of the Peloponnesus. Antikythera was slightly visible straight ahead. Another Greek island that became famous in the beginning of the 20th century when sponge divers discovered a roman shipwreck carrying Hellenistic cargo consisting of works of art from the Greek isles and Ionia. Amongst the exquisite statues and glassware the archaeologist found an incredible device used to study the planets and organize the “calendar” of the major ancient Greek festivals, for example the Olympics that we studied yesterday in Olympia. The device is called “the Antikythera Mechanism” (the great world for machine). After breakfast some of us visited the engine room in order to discover the mysteries of the Sea Cloud, and then after a short lecture on the history of Modern Greece and its eternal influence on maritime evolution throughout the Greek past we—Greek guides travelling on board—tried to offer our personal viewpoints on what is happening to Greece today. Read More>

Sep 16, 2014 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Old Massett, Haida Gwaii

With an early start, our guests boarded buses en route to the village of Old Massett. After the previous days exploration of the Haida Cultural Center and ancient burial grounds of SGang Gwaay, few things could round out the experience more than an intimate interaction with the Haida people. Beginning with a tour lead by Chief Christian White, we were treated to an in-depth explanation of the totem poles that stood mightily outside of the long house, which he and the community erected. The poles were carved by his hand in honor of his ancestors. An even rarer invitation followed, as we were brought into his work shed where projects in progress lay before the guests to witness, ask the details of, and experience both with sight and rich smell of the cedar aroma that filled the room.   The next portion of our day continued to uphold expectations. Read More>

Sep 16, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Twillingate, Newfoundland and At Sea

Newfoundland and Labrador, siblings separated by the Strait of Belle Isle, lie at the easternmost point of Canada. First in Canada to see the sun each day, they buffer the land beyond from the ferocity of the sea. Newfoundland’s finger points to Labrador, while its north-facing coast appears as knuckles on a fist, poised to snatch at drifting ice or resist the pounding waves.  The pink and purple pastel skies of early morning were adorned by flashing jewels. Read More>

Sep 16, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Canada

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island was our destination for today. In the morning we explored the Charles Darwin Research Station, The Breeding Center and the giant tortoises’ corrals. During this visit we had the opportunity to learn about the different strategies of the conservation work carried out by this institution. Some of the tortoises we saw at the breeding center are tiny babies born here as part of the restoration programs carried out by the Galapagos National Park Service. Read More>

Sep 16, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Olympia, Greece

Our second day in Greece began with a leisurely morning sail down the west coast of the Peloponnese. We docked at Katakolon shortly after lunch then disembarked for the short journey to the archaeological site of Olympia. Of religious significance since the 10th-century B.C., Olympia hosted the most prestigious of the Panhellenic games beginning in 776 B.C.; it is from these games that the modern Olympics are derived. At the site, our superb guides, Sophia and Eleni, made the ancient games come alive with fascinating detail on the lives of the athletes and the sports in which they excelled, such as the discus throw, the chariot race, and the no-holds-barred pankration, a fighting sport combining wrestling and boxing. In the site’s restored stadium, which hosted the 2004 Olympic shot put competition, some of the guests stumbled upon an intricately-patterned snake, possibly a young leopard snake, who hastily retreated into the nearby grass. Olympia’s massive Doric temple, dedicated to Zeus, once housed a gold and ivory cult statue of the god; although unfortunately no trace of it remains today, this statue was once famed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Read More>

Sep 15, 2014 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

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