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Isabela Island

Isabela is one of the youngest and most volcanic islands in the archipelago. Its back bone is made of six volcanoes, out which five seem to be active, and this island alone represents 50 percent of the total land mass of the archipelago. It boasts large populations of both land iguanas and giant tortoises. We started our morning with an excellent hike to the visitor site known as Urbina Bay. Read More>

Aug 23, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Philpots Island, Bethune Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

It might seem strange to say that water has many moods but it could be looked at in just that way. Water, the miraculous molecule that makes us what we are. We replenish ourselves with its liquid form and sail upon its masses. Its surface might be as smooth as glass or as crumpled as crushed satin. It can be deep dark navy blue with silver streaks dancing from crest to trough as it was for us this morning. Or it could be gray loaded with glacial flour or maybe even turquoise blue with light scattered from those same fine particles. Earlier we met one of its frozen phases; platters of drifting sea ice where polar bears and walrus resided. Today, another face, another mood left us marveling at its beauty. The sun shone down upon us from a clear blue sky. Read More>

Aug 23, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Isabela and Fernandina Islands

As the National Geographic Islander rounded Cape Albemarle having just crossed the equator a few minutes before, the eastern sky started to reveal an orange tinge announcing that sunrise was imminent. Cape Albermarle is the most northern point of Isabela Island and just south of it lies an enormous sleeping giant. Read More>

Aug 23, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

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

Fernandina and Isabela Islands

After navigating all throughout the night, we reached the western isles of the Galápagos. These are considered the most remote and pristine islands, as well as the youngest areas of the archipelago. As dawn broke, we could see the elegant outline of the shield volcanoes of both Isabela and Fernandina Islands. The National Geographic Endeavour dropped anchor at Punta Espinosa, on the northeastern tip of Fernandina. This was to be our morning excursion; a first impression of the coastline, could make one think that the place is totally devoid of life. Black, jagged lava rocks are present everywhere, and there is definitely a lack of water and vegetation. Fernandina is simply too young, having been totally resurfaced in the last five thousand years. Therefore, its biodiversity is rather low, albeit extremely interesting. Upon landing, we started encountering the most abundant inhabitant of Fernandina: the marine iguanas. These endemic and unique creatures have undergone fantastic adaptations in order to survive in such a harsh environment, and they have become extremely efficient at obtaining the seaweed that is the main part of their diet. Further inland we found several tidal pools and a rocky shoreline covered in ulva, or sea lettuce, which make this area a rich foraging grounds for sea turtles, of which we observed dozens if not hundreds. Another inhabitant of the shoreline of Fernandina is the flightless cormorant, and we were lucky enough to find an active nesting couple, already rearing two healthy-looking chicks. Punta Espinosa is rich in beautiful volcanic features, like the pahoehoe or ropy-surfaced lavas, and from the trail we could admire La Cumbre, the summit of Fernandina, a shield volcano with the shape of an overturned soup bowl. After our morning activities, we had to leave this idyllic place that seems to have been forgotten by time, and during midday we navigated towards Punta Vicente Roca, on the northern coast of Isabela Island. Read More>

Aug 22, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Bartolome and Rabida Islands

After short navigation we finally arrived at the center of the archipelago. It was our first full day of exploration in the Galápagos and we were all very excited to visit Bartolome and Rabida Islands. Bartolome Island is a volcanic island just off the east coast of Santiago. This is one of the younger islands in the archipelago and named after naturalist and lifelong friend of Charles Darwin, Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, who was a lieutenant aboard the HMS Beagle. Rábida Island also been known as Jervis Island named in honor of the 18th-century British admiral John Jervis. With the first rays of sun and soft winds we headed to Bartolome with the mission to get to the summit of the island in order to enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the Galapagos. Read More>

Aug 22, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

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

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

 

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