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Lastest Expedition Reports

At Sea, Timor Sea

This morning, we were able to have a nice sleep-in as the National Geographic Orion travelled north to Com, East Timor. Sea conditions were kind to us, and  most of us were up and enjoying the sunrise, while others hit the gym for a morning workout or joined Kat for morning stretches.  At 0800, our expedition leader Adam Cropp played the beautiful song “What a Wonderful World” before updating us on our position and the weather. Read More>

Jun 28, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Northeastern Spitsbergen, Fugelfjorden, Smeerenburgfjorden, Amsterdamøya

At 0630 hrs the National Geographic Explorer is sailing into Fugelfjorden, “Bird Fjord,” toward Svitjodbreen (breen means glacier), an exit glacier from Valsahvøya icecap to the south. Bold, dark mountains carved by ice into sharp peaks rise steeply on either side. Cirques, cut into those mountains by glaciers, brim with ice and snow within while heaps of glacial till spill out of their lower edges. Snow and ice come right down to the sea; this is fitting, for Spitsbergen means “sharp peaks” and Svalbard “cold shores.” Above this lead-gray arm of the sea, low clouds hide the highest mountains. Soon Svitjodbreen is obscured by fog and a keening wind whips around outside the bridge, carrying whirling snowflakes. There will be no Zodiac operations here in these conditions. We turn and sail for Bjornfjorden in the lower reaches of Smeerenburgfjorden. Here the broad calving face of Smeerenburgbreen rises 60 meters above the sea water in the fjord. Soon we hear a loud cracking sound and a giant chunk of ice falls with a roar off the face of the glacier, sending out a great wave and leaving a big blue patch on the freshly exposed ice of the calving face. While waiting in hopes of another calving event we are astonished to see a great skua, the fiercest predatory bird in Svalbard, drive an arctic tern right into the water in a vicious attack that kills the tern. The skua then tears into the tern, having breakfast right there on the water between the ship and the glacier. We sail back to Fugelfjorden, now free of fog, and here 28 hardy (foolhardy?) souls take the polar plunge, leaping from a platform mounted on the side of the ship into the gelid waters in front of Svijodbreen. Read More>

Jun 28, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

North Seymour and Rabida Islands

Even a full day in Galapagos does not have enough hours to enjoy all of the treasures of this place. Today was our first day in this paradise, and we returned to the ship exhausted but exhilarated by the incredible sightings that we had. In the morning we visited North Seymour. Read More>

Jun 28, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Baranof Island

One last day at sea, but plenty more to see!   For our morning landfall, we anchored off Baranof Island at Hanus Bay. Read More>

Jun 27, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Genovesa/Tower Island

As we near the end of our expedition we finish with a bang! Genovesa is an oasis in the middle of the northern, warmer boundary of the usually tepid waters that surround the Archipelago. Read More>

Jun 27, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Mosselbukta & Jarlfjellet

Today we continued our exploration of the Svalbard archipelago on the northern part of Spitsbergen Island; during breakfast the National Geographic Explorer arrived at Mosselbukta.   We all went ashore and divided into several hikes, starting at the site of a trapper’s cabin located a few feet from the shore. Read More>

Jun 27, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Glacier Bay National Park

When we were roused from our sleep this morning, our ship was already within the confines of Glacier Bay National Park. One of the premier national parks in the country, Glacier Bay is an icon of wilderness in Alaska. By this point, we had already been joined by our National Park ranger, Nicole. She would be with us the entire day to add to the narration of both the human and natural history of the park.   Our first stop was South Marble Island, home to a colony of about 1,000 Steller sea lions, as well as a myriad of breeding seabirds. Read More>

Jun 26, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Pavlof Harbor

The last day of the voyage quickly approached, and guests crawled out of bed fresh and ready for a new day on Friday, June 26. Read More>

Jun 26, 2015 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Chinese Hat & Sullivan Bay

Today we visited two locations on the Island of Santiago; Chinese Hat and Sullivan Bay. The day started with a view of the beautiful landscape revealing the reason why the island is called Chinese Hat. Read More>

Jun 26, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Hinlopen Strait

We spent the day in Hinlopen Strait, a long, narrow body of water that separates the two largest islands of the Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet (Northeast Island). It runs on a northwest-southeast line, has a length of about 110 miles, and varies in width between six and 32 miles. The early morning found us near Kapp Fanshawe, located on the west side of Hinlopen Strait near Lomfjorden. The cape is marked by the high cliffs of Alkefjellet, which host one of the largest concentrations of nesting seabirds in Svalbard. At least 60,000 pairs of Brünnich’s guillemots nest on the vertical cliffs, along with a smattering of kittiwakes and glaucous gulls. The geological setting of the cape is unique and has been used in many textbooks to illustrate geological relationships. Gray, horizontal layers of sedimentary rocks that include shale and sandstone underlie the cliffs. These were deposited during the late Carboniferous Period, approximately 300 million years ago. The sedimentary layers were intruded by dark-colored magma approximately 140 million years ago during a phase of crustal extension. The captain and chief officer brought the bow of our ship right up near to the cliff face for a really close-up view of the rocks and nesting seabirds (Figure A).  We entered Wahlenberg Fjord (across Hinlopen Strait due east of Kapp Fanshawe) just after breakfast and the vessel maneuvered through both open water and scattered ice floes. Read More>

Jun 26, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

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