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Charles Darwin Research Station, Highlands, Santa Cruz Island

As we arrived to the dock of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, the home of the largest tortoises that inhabit Galapagos, we are were surprised by the activity of the town. It seemed like everyone on the streets had something to do and most people were rushing to their jobs. It pretty much felt like a big city anywhere in the world. We boarded our bus and headed off for the Charles Darwin Research Station. Several Darwin’s finches moved from tree to tree, perhaps looking for a mate, or maybe for food. Read More>

Nov 24, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Henderson Island, United Kingdom

As the early sunrise broke the sky, Scouting naturalists peered into the sea with keen eyes. Read More>

Nov 24, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Antarctic Sound and Deception Island

For a lover of ice the last 24 hours could not have been better. At 6:45 a. Read More>

Nov 23, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Española Island

The Galapagos Islands exploration brought us today to one of the most magnificent places of the archipelago, Española Island.  After a delightful breakfast we got ready for the first adventure of the day along the cliffs of a magic underwater world known as Gardner Islet.  As soon as we got into the water the marvels of the Galapagos Marine Reserve were revealed. There were baby Galapagos sea lions swimming around us, reef fish of different colors were found all over the rocks, and the highlight was the Pacific green sea turtles that were swimming along the walls of Gardner Islet. After a magic experience along the cliffs, it was time to go to one of the most symbolic beaches of the Galapagos, Gardner bay. Read More>

Nov 23, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Pitcairn Island

This morning after a hearty breakfast we boarded Zodiacs to explore one of the most isolated, yet inhabited islands in the world, Pitcairn Island. Residents’ today range from 40 to 50, and when we arrived they explained to us the urgent need to attract more people to widen the possibilities of preserving the settlement that was founded by the Bounty mutineers in the late 18th century. With somewhat treacherous sea conditions today we had to make a landing on the western side of the island using a yet unfinished new harbour construction. Read More>

Nov 23, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Point Wild, Elephant Island

Imagine yourself a member of Ernest Shackleton's imperial transantarctic expedition.  Perhaps you signed on as a stoker, to shovel coal into the steam engine, or an ordinary seaman, to climb the rigging and tend the sails.  You intended to stay with the ship and return to warmer climes while Shackleton and his selected colleagues headed off in their attempt to cross the Antarctic Continent to reach the Ross Sea.  You most definitely did not sign on to spend two winters shipwrecked in the Antarctic, but that is where you find yourself.  Now, it is April of 1916 and for the first time in sixteen months, you stand on land.  But what land?!  You are on Elephant Island, the last speck of land of the South Shetland Archipelago.  Had you missed that, you would have drifted off to the east, lost forever.  But here you are, on this tiny, narrow spit of land, glacier on one side, near vertical rock on the other.  It is not much of a home, but it is the only place where you can remain while The Boss sets off on his audacious plan: to cross 800 miles of the world's most turbulent sea to attempt to reach South Georgia Island and the whaling stations there.  If he succeeds, he will bring rescue to you and your twenty one comrades.  If he fails...well, we dare not contemplate that. So here you wait.  It is early winter.  The chinstrap penguins have deserted the island.  Only a few seals and penguins are there to augment your scant meals of pemmican—a mixture of meat and lard intended for the sledging party that never was—and hard ship's biscuits.  Your fuel is the fat of penguins and seals; your home is under the two overturned lifeboats from Endurance.  As the winter progresses the supplies are depleted, and you resort to chipping limpets from the rocks to add to the hoosh (pemmican boiled into a gruel.)  Tobacco runs short, and men smoke tea leaves or the grass that was brought to insulate their boots. For the few who had rationed their tobacco, a pipeful could be traded for a penguin breast or an extra biscuit. For entertainment, Meteorologist Leonard Hussey plays his banjo, and the men sing songs of their own making.  And you wait, trying to sustain the hope that The Boss will return.  Some lost hope, but never your leader, Frank Wild, whose faith in Shackleton knew no limits: Oh, my name is Frankie Wild-O My hut's on Elephant Isle. Read More>

Nov 22, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Española Island

Located in the extreme southeast of the archipelago, Española is considered to be the oldest island in Galapagos, at approximately five million years old. It is flat and dry, with no highlands, but with a great endemism and a unique natural history, the result of millions of years of evolution.  Before 1892 when Ecuadorian government re-baptized the islands with Spanish names, its English name was Hood Island, after Viscount Samuel Hood. With excellent weather conditions, clear and calm waters, we loaded our Zodiacs and headed to Gardner Islet, where we started our activities with a snorkeling excursion to discover the incredible underwater world. Read More>

Nov 22, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

San Cristobal Island

We woke up on the northern part of Chatham Island, at a place called Pitt Point which is known for red footed boobies. We disembarked on volcanic ash sand after doing a little dingy ride to spot the red footed boobies perched on bushes by the cliff. After landing and drying our feet to put proper shoes on, we walked inland. Sea lions, marine iguanas and lava lizards were spotted along the shoreline. It was a clear day and the sun was shining. It was immediately warm for the walk, but fortunately we had brought plenty water to drink. As we walked up the hill the devastation caused by introduced goats became obvious as Scalesia bushes could only be found on the cliffs where the goats were not able to reach. Read More>

Nov 21, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Zapote Creek and Supay River

Our Saturday started with a 6:00 a.m. boat ride up Zapote Creek off the Ucayali River. The skies were clear blue with some billowy white clouds and it promised to be another hot morning. However, at this hour the temperature is lovely and it is so wonderful to see the activities of the animals starting their day.  As we entered the creek we were greeted by a pink river dolphin fishing and a snowy egret standing sentinel at the river’s edge. Horned screamers could be heard in the distance and parrots and parakeets were flying overhead heading out to forage for the day. However, in one overhanging branch along the way we found an animal who was just going to bed. There was a small hole in a tree trunk and sticking out of it was the head of a cute little yellow-crowned brush-tailed rat. This sweet little rodent is nocturnal and scurries around at night collecting fruits to eat. During the day it retreats to its hole with just its head protruding out which has resulted in the locals calling it the “window mouse.” It even had a fruit it collected tucked under its chin! After breakfast, we headed back up Zapote Creek. Read More>

Nov 21, 2015 Delfin II in Amazon

At Sea Towards Elephant Island, South Shetlands

If you were outside on deck today, you probably did not spend more than half an hour before going back inside for a cup of chocolate or tea and to regain at least some mobility in your extremities. South of the convergence or polar front as it is known these days, air temperatures are rarely far from 0° Celsius and the constant winds chill the air in a way only someone that has been to Antarctica can understand. Imagine then, spending 16 days on a wooden lifeboat roughly the size of our Zodiacs, with hardly any warm food or freshwater, no real place to rest or protect you, wet clothing, and a very uncertain future at best. This is what Ernest Shackleton and five of his men did, on these very same waters, 100 years ago in a desperate attempt to find help in South Georgia not only for themselves but also for their stranded comrades in Elephant Island. We can only imagine what they physically and mentally endured while they survived storms that during those same days sank a much larger whale catcher in nearby waters. We had hoped to find some whales of course, but to have a group of 25-30 fin whales feeding so close to the ship, some of them almost bow-riding and moving around as gently as a small dolphin was well beyond our expectations! Not every day you get ‘sprayed’ by a whale but… is it good or bad luck? The staff on the bow seemed to disagree on that whaling tradition, but we were definitely all very happy to have enjoyed such a close encounter. Read More>

Nov 21, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

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