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Glacier Bay National Park

Waking to the 250-foot sheer face of Margerie glacier towering off the bow, guests on National Geographic Sea Bird began their day at the far north end of Glacier Bay National Park. While admiring the handsome striations at its base, the deep blue of the compressed glacial ice and the towering seracs that jut from the top of the glacier, pieces of ice “calved” from the face plummeting to the water below with a thunderous crack. Beside Margerie glacier to the north stretched the two-mile moraine of the Grand Pacific glacier, the retreating front of the mighty river of ice that carved the 70-mile glacier fjord where we would spend the rest of the day exploring. After a brief stop to enjoy the rich color of the glacier fondly referred to as “Lamplugh the Blue,” we continued southward. Read More>

Aug 23, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Lake Eva and Pavlof Harbor

The decks were filled earlier than normal with early risers riding the excitement of the previous night’s whale sightings. We dropped anchor in Hanus Bay which has a fantastic landing beach in which a trail leads to the placid waters of our beloved Lake Eva. Hikes of various speeds and levels of interpretation were lead into the trails of the temperate rain forest, which eventually reached some impressive old growth. Squirrel middens and a cornucopia of mushroom species lined the trail whereas banana slugs and brown bear scat littered the trail. Once deeper into the forest, the old growth trees revealed themselves and some of the largest Sitka spruce and western hemlock I have ever seen towered above the moss covered forest floor. The pink salmon were abundant in the stream that the trail paralleled and we enjoyed the periodic salmon breach. Various birds were heard singing throughout the forest and a couple lucky eyes saw a river otter retreat into the bush. After lunch we had the unexpected sighting of at least six humpback whales bubble-net feeding near the small community of Tenakee Springs. Read More>

Aug 23, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Christiansø

Today we visited the tiny and very beautiful island of Christiansø, one of a group of islands called Ertholmene. The weather was warm and sunny and the few buildings on the island stood out sharply against the blue sky. Christiansø has a population of about 90, but this is increased by thousands during the summer months, as visitors flood in particularly by ferry from nearby Bornholm. We were lucky as we visited at a relatively quiet time. Our various groups arrived by Zodiacs, and most people wandered around the island absorbing its unique atmosphere—the small town with its terraces of bright yellow buildings, further out other houses tucked away behind trees, and the magnificent old granite walls around the periphery offering glimpses of the sea and even of our ship, the National Geographic Orion, docked securely offshore. Read More>

Aug 22, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Europe aboard NG Orion

Port Althorp & the Inian Islands

A long time ago, an intrepid explorer sailed the same long, narrow bay that we entered this morning; in July of 1794 George Vancouver spent 18 days at anchor in the place he named Port Althorp, possibly very close to the site where National Geographic Sea Bird stopped before breakfast. Located on the northwest portion of Chichagof Island, Port Althorp is a remote place seldom visited by anyone other than the few residents of the small fishing community of Elfin Cove a few miles away. The same people that asked the state government to declare the place a no-brown-bear-hunting area, a status that Port Althorp obtained in 1984 and that makes it one of few such heavens for bruin on the ABC islands of Southeast Alaska and the only one in Chichagof. In fact, we were lucky enough this morning to see one solitary brown bear and a sow with her two-year-old cub on the meadow at the end of the bay shortly before we anchored! With high hopes and energy we explored the area form kayaks and by foot, getting the chance to watch all kinds of wildlife, from harbor seals and Canadian geese, to bald eagles and sea otters. Many of us hiked to the stream and watched numerous pink salmon in the shallow water fighting and spawning; the prominent humps of the males sticking out of the water reminded us of another one of the species’ common names, the humpback or “humpy.” After a morning full of activities we saw a group of four killer whales entering the bay; being members of the Bigg’s (transient) ecotype, those killer whales were looking for harbor seals to hunt. Read More>

Aug 22, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Frederick Sound

We awoke on our first morning on the National Geographic Sea Lion to a beautifully clear Southeast Alaskan day. We quickly realized we were away from civilization and in wilderness country; we encountered a gathering of feeding humpback whales before breakfast was served. We were in Frederick Sound and spotted whales in all directions-as far as the eyes could see! The whales were bubble net feeding and lunge feeding on swarms of krill near the surface. We were also lucky enough to witness other playful behaviors such as pectoral fin slapping, tail lobbing, and even breaching! Our photo instructors were active on the bow helping guests capture the fabulous wildlife. The sun was shining and we anchored in Hillock Harbor early afternoon. Read More>

Aug 22, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

North of Cornwallis Island, Nunavut, Arctic Canada

In the early morning National Geographic Explorer was surrounded by dense fog. We were cruising westwards just above 75 degrees north, in an area known as the Polar Bear Pass Region. By the end of  breakfast time the mist lifted, just enough for a bit of scanning over promising sea ice. We were all in great hope of finding a polar bear. Those having the patience to stay on the bridge were rewarded with a couple of quick glimpses of walrus in the distance. On both occasions, the walrus slipped into the water when still far off. These walruses may have experienced the presence of hunters and learned  that their safest place is in the water when a boat of any size appears. This morning the spotting of a few Sabine gulls sitting on a sheet of sea-ice was a definite highlight for any birder onboard. This rare Arctic bird was seen together with a group of black-legged kittiwakes. During the morning, naturalist Elise Lockton gave a very informative lecture about the polar bear (Ursus maritimus = the sea bear). Read More>

Aug 21, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

North Seymour and Rabida Islands

On this early morning outing we landed on North Seymour Island, one of the jewels of the crown here, it’s flat platform that formed under water and eventually rose above the water line, this islands has become the nesting site for some of the emblematic species of the Galapagos. As we strolled around we had a wonderful opportunity to find the Galapagos swallow tail gulls beginning the courting process, lots of new couples everywhere. Magnificent and minor frigate birds that were actively taking care of their young on the nests, a few red pouches scattered around the incense vegetation wanting desperately to be seeing by the females.  Land Iguanas that were already displaying their beautiful bright colors… a perfect walk with just everything the island has to offer. Strong winds in the afternoon made our access to snorkeling wet but as we got into the water we were clearly satisfied with the beautiful color and the visibility, conditions were just perfect. Read More>

Aug 21, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

DeGroff Bay & Sergius Narrows

Harbor porpoises broke the placid reflection of the sky, mirrored on the sea’s surface, just outside of DeGroff Bay for a small audience of early risers this morning. As guests gathered for a briefing in the lounge, our undersea specialist, Carlos Navarro, dove in to capture footage of the amazing marine life brimming at the mouth of the channel. Ready for action, we set out to explore the rocky coastline via kayaks and foot. Read More>

Aug 21, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Syros, Greece

Our final day of this week-long adventure brought us to the island of Syros, located to the west of the sacred island of Delos. In a refreshing change, Sea Cloud was able to dock at Ermoupolis, at one time the busiest port in Greece. We were free to come and go from the ship throughout the morning, and some took advantage of the flexible schedule to go for an early morning swim. Our knowledgeable local guides, Eleni and Effie, offered a leisurely walking tour of the town, which is the capital city of the Cyclades. Read More>

Aug 21, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Loch Ness & Inverness

Fort Augustus was originally a military settlement built in the wake of the Battle of Culloden but one that developed in the first half of the 19th century to service the Caledonian Canal and its flight of locks, here descending towards the shores of Loch Ness. Our overnight mooring was beside an impressive 19th-century building that incorporated the remains of the original fort into a private Catholic school for boys that survived until the end of the 20th century. Today it is a high-end resort complex with the fort serving as the gym. It was touch and go whether we would sail at all this morning. We began our day sailing across Loch Ness, the largest body of fresh water in Britain, deeper than the North Sea. Read More>

Aug 21, 2016 Lord of the Glens in Scotland

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

 

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