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Morris Reef and Pavlof Harbor

National Geographic Sea Lion departed Sitka last evening and cruised north and east through Peril Strait between Baranof and Chichagof islands. Entering Chatham Strait we turned south and entered Kelp Bay, where guests on board awoke to a lovely mist draping the trees of the Tongass National Forest. It was a good place for our first photo opportunity of the day.  Presently we were called out on deck to view a couple humpback whales that were spouting and surfacing in the area. Read More>

Aug 25, 2014 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

George Island & the Inians

The early morning fog surrounded us and the National Geographic Sea Bird navigated cautiously, using the foghorn every few minutes; it seemed as if we were alone in the world and the beauty of the scene was remarkable. We soon arrived to George Island, where we spent the morning. Located off the northern shore of the large Chichagof Island, George is a very interesting place to explore. And we did so by hiking, tide-pooling, kayaking and in my case, scuba diving. Amy Sobesky and I went diving off George Island to take underwater video of the inhabitants of the kelp forest and rocky reefs, like leather and sunflower sea stars, painted and stubby rose anemones, kelp greenlings, and Pacific cod. Meanwhile, kayakers paddled along the shore looking at the rugged landscape and the occasional sea lion and harbor seal, whereas hikers reached the site of a former WWII post that was used to protect the northern entrance to the Inside Passage.  After leaving George Island we headed towards our anchorage at the Hobbit Hole in the Inian Islands. Read More>

Aug 25, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Bartolome & Rabida Islands

Our journey continues within this “world among itself” as it has been described. An early hike to the top of Bartolome Island brings us to an incredible sunrise and a view of more than 25 islands in the distance. Bartolome does not have much in terms of wildlife and vegetation, however it does show the tumultuous geological past with spatter and cinder cones littering the island along with solidified lava tubes running done the slopes like veins. A few pioneer plant species are found here trying to take hold and produce soil for the next wave of species that may never arrive to this arid island. Upon our return to our home, the National Geographic Islander, we obtain our snorkeling equipment for a chance to explore the undersea world. After landing on a fine sand beach we proceed to enter the water and encounter large schools of Razor surgeon fish, blennies, flounders, and a colorful wall filled with invertebrates.  This has been a great introduction to one of our mid-age islands as we continue west towards Rabida Island.  The afternoon brings us to an otherworldly area as we anchor off of Rabida Island. Read More>

Aug 25, 2014 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Punta Espinoza & Punta Vicente Roca

The morning had us navigating toward Fernandina Island, the most western island in Galapagos. It is one of five large islands in this archipelago. The scenery we are approaching is hard to describe, it is a great example of the shield volcano, volcanology you can expect in oceanic archipelagos. The island itself is one large volcano that has the deepest caldera a volcano in Galapagos could ever have. Dry, very dry, is how the slopes of this one single volcano look. The green you expect on the island is found along the coast specifically, where the pioneer plant is highly dominant. Before we anchor on the island we saw a spout – it was the largest mammal of the ocean. Yes, a couple of blue whales were close to the National Geographic Endeavour! They helped us envision the rest of the exciting day coming up. By 8:00 a.m. we are disembarking on the rocky tidal area where the explorers are surprised by the local attractions at every turn – the marine iguanas, the flightless cormorant, sea lions, green sea turtles and the view of this magical place help us have a great time.  Later on we move to our next destination, the smallest volcano of six forming the largest island in Galapagos, Isabela. Read More>

Aug 25, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Ellesmere Island, Qikiqtaaluck, Nunavut

Today was another first for National Geographic Explorer: a visit to Ellesmere Island. Not one of us had ever been here before. Our fearless expedition leader, Lisa Kelley, chose an excellent quote for today’s program by Sir Ernest Shackleton “I go exploring because I like it and it’s my job.” Ellesmere Island is Canada’s third-largest island and it a place rarely visited by tourists. Read More>

Aug 25, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Tobermory, Eigg, Skye & Inverie

The western isles of Scotland showed us their very best today, offering something for everyone under bright blue skies as we visited three different islands and finished our day on a remote corner of the mainland.  We woke up alongside in Tobermory, on the island of Mull. Read More>

Aug 24, 2014 Lord of the Glens in Scotland

Pavlov Harbor

We began our travels in Alaska with spectacular wildlife. Humpbacks, perhaps the most beautiful and intelligent of the baleen whales, are now common in Southeast Alaska. But their most impressive behavior is not. When pursuing the wily herring, humpbacks pull out the most complex technique from their diverse bag of tricks. After coordinated sequential dives, several whales heard a school of fish toward the surface. Meanwhile, another swims in a circle around them while blowing bubbles. The herring are doomed. Whales chase the herring up through the rising cylinder of bubbles, finally erupting at the surface in an astonishing melee. Melee it appears, but the action is actually carefully orchestrated—the whales always surface in the same order.  Using our hydrophone, we discovered one more aspect of the whales’ clever behavior. Read More>

Aug 24, 2014 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Philpots Island and the Icebergs

We spent the morning sailing eastward within the Parry Channel off the south coast of Devon Island. By midday, we had reached Philpots Island, a geological structure consisting of ancient red granite that is part of the Ellesmere-North Greenland geological complex. It has been dated to 1.6 billion years in age! The plan was to go ashore on rocky Philpots Island for a chance to hike about on the tundra and search for interesting flora and fauna, including extensive moss beds with interspersed flowering vascular plants, various bird species, Arctic hares, and perhaps even musk oxen.   Almost as soon as we anchored in a broad bay, we sighted a lone polar bear resting on a promontory looking over the entire shore where we hoped to make our landing. Read More>

Aug 24, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

North Seymour and Rabida Island

It is our second day exploring the wonders of the Galapagos Islands and our enthusiasm for knowing more about this pristine place is indescribable.  Today we visited North Seymour, a small island formed by a sudden uplift of the ocean platform. We also visited Rabida Island, also known as Jervis Island named in honour of the 18th-century British admiral John Jervis.  Both islands are intriguing due to the different microclimates and adaptation that the species had to evolve in order to succeed in this harsh environment.     Our first outing took place along the rocky shoreline of North Seymour. Read More>

Aug 24, 2014 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Isle of Iona & Duart Castle, Isle of Mull

The after-breakfast crossing from Oban, on the Scottish mainland, to Craignure, on the Isle of Mull, was on calm seas and with dappled sunlight speckling the green hills of Mull. Craignure is the large ferry terminal for the Caledonian MacBrayne interisland ferries, and it was here we boarded a bus to take us across Mull to the small ferry port of Fionnphort and the tiny ferry to Iona. Steve had already explained the importance of this little island in his presentation yesterday, but we were not prepared for the simple but memorable beauty of this three-mile by one-mile island. Read More>

Aug 23, 2014 Lord of the Glens in Scotland

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

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