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Daily Expedition Reports

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Lastest Expedition Reports

At Sea

The dawn welcomed us with calm seas and blue skies dappled with clouds, lovely conditions for a day at sea. At some point during the night, a white-tailed tropicbird crash landed on the ship, but it was a simple rescue, and Richard gave everyone a close-up lesson about the bird before he released it from the aft deck. Eagle eyes were on deck scanning the waters throughout the day, but sightings were limited to the occasional lone seabird.   Back inside the lounge we had a great series of presentations. Read More>

Nov 25, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Floreana Island

Floreana Island used to be one of the most visited places in the Galápagos Archipelago by whalers, pirates and buccaneers.  After traveling for several years in these waters, they found Floreana which served as good shelter and a good supply of water and food. Cormorant Point, Champion Islet and Post Office bay were the national park sites we visited today. Read More>

Nov 25, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Santa Cruz Island

The rhythm of Puerto Ayora, the biggest city in the Galapagos with some 20,000 inhabitants, is colorful and busy. The city is the economical center of the islands and hosts the headquarters of the National Park Service, and one can perceive firsthand a constant influx of conservationist and protectionist messages and actions in an educational train.  The city lives out of tourism and as such, it has much to offer to its visitors. Read More>

Nov 25, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Española Island

Located in the southeastern corner of the Galapagos Archipelago, Española is one of the oldest islands. From the distance, it looks rather flat and very, very dry. The early morning was cloudy and breezy, but the air temperature was rather mild—we are near the equator after all!   A group of early risers set off before breakfast to practice some kayaking along the rocky coast of Gardner Bay. Read More>

Nov 24, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Floreana Island

Today we have calm sea conditions as we head out for an early morning walk at Punta Cormorant. Right at the landing spot, we have a small welcome committee of sea lions, while blue footed boobies perch on the cliffs of volcanic sand and tuff stone. The walk leads along a shallow salt water pond and through an incense tree forest, to a sea turtle nesting site. In the lagoon we spot a few flamingoes, resident to these islands. This time of the year, the female turtles start nesting, and we see about a dozen turtles in the light surf. Frigate birds are higher up riding the thermals.   And yet, after yesterdays’ visit, we notice that this island has a lot less wildlife. Read More>

Nov 24, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Apia, Samoa

The Samoan Archipelago is a cohesive group of islands--geologically, culturally, and linguistically—that has been divided through world events into two political units. In the late 19th century, several colonial powers struggled against one another in order to gain control over these beautiful Polynesian islands—like they had with all the other major island groups in the South Pacific. As it developed, Germany gained control over the western Samoan islands and the Americans got control of the eastern Samoan islands. With end of World War I, New Zealand took over the administration of the German region, and then oversaw its independence in 1962, first as Western Samoa, and now officially as Samoa.   The Samoan islands used to be known to European explorers as the “Navigator Islands” because the Samoans exhibited phenomenal seafaring skills. Read More>

Nov 24, 2014 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Niuatoputapu, Tonga

Today we were in the farthest northern realm of the Kingdom of Tonga where two isolated islands are seldom visited. Our hope for the morning was to go ashore on the island of Niuatoputapu. Today was Sunday, and this morning we anticipated finding most of the island’s population attending church. The Tongan people are well known for their joyful and harmonious singing at such weekly functions. In Tonga, Sundays are mandated as a day of rest with strictly no work, to go to church, and for family feasts.   We headed in by Zodiac across the open ocean, eventually reaching a narrow entrance through the fringing reef into the island’s inner lagoon. Read More>

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

Point Wild, Elephant Island & into the Bransfield Strait

Point Wild, Elephant Island: a good place to spend an expedition morning in the early Antarctic summer, but four months, through an Antarctic winter??! Maybe not, but the men of Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance had no choice.  April 16, 1916: The three lifeboats from Endurance, newly named after the expedition's main sponsors James B. Read More>

Nov 23, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Española Island

We started our trip by visiting the oldest Island of the archipelago: Española or Hood Island. This little landmass is situated at the easternmost point of the Galapagos Map. Our first stop was Gardner Bay and Gardner Islet. Read More>

Nov 23, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Vava’u and Nuku Island, Tonga

The islands of Tonga lie at the northern end of the Tonga-Kermadec trench, a great rift in the Earth’s crust deep beneath the Pacific.  It was a calm, sunny day on Vava’u, but far below us titanic forces were at work, melting the lower crust into magma and forcing it upward to burst free in a chain of volcanoes that stretches from Tonga more than a thousand miles south to the North Island of New Zealand. Where these volcanoes break the surface they form volcanic islands and provide a new habitat for tiny coral animals. And in turn the corals build extensive and exquisitely beautiful reefs, eventually adding a thick layer of their limestone skeletons atop the lava and ash of the volcano. As the pulses of heat and pressure from deep below come and go the islands rise and fall, creating new mountains, lifting reefs out of the sea and then drowning them again.  Visiting Vava’u this morning we walked on an island formed completely from an ancient reef, raised more than 400 feet above the sea at its highest point. Read More>

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

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Daily Expedition Report Information

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