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At Sea, Heading for Easter Island

With the Pitcairn Group in our wake we have set out across the wide stretch of the Pacific that lies between Ducie Atoll and Easter Island. Once again the greatest ocean in the world surrounds us and we are the center of our own world, isolated and alone, yet never disconnected from all that lies over our horizons. There are so many ways to spend our time as we near the end of our voyage through remote southeastern Polynesia the day has raced by and some plans have had to be put off—maybe tomorrow. Read More>

Nov 26, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Ducie Atoll, Pitcairn Group

As the first dawn light breaks across the horizon the National Geographic Orion sails east through the worlds largest marine park.  Our destination is Ducie Atoll, the last island in the Pitcairn group. The seas in this remote part of the Pacific are untamed and we have made slow progress against the confused swell. We press toward the leeward side of atoll seeking refuge after our voyage from Henderson Island overnight. As we drew closer to the atoll sea birds engulf the air above us. Read More>

Nov 25, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

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

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

At Sea, Heading for Pitcairn Island

Today, against strong winds and persistent swells, National Geographic Orion is headed for Pitcairn Island. We spent the day attending several very useful and interesting photography workshops while some of us were reviewing evening presentations and exchanging information about one of the most remarkable islands in Eastern Polynesia. Once called in academia a “mystery island” due to the disappearance of its pre-European inhabitants around the mid-1400’s, and world-renowned for the infamous mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty in the late 18th century, Pitcairn gave birth to the most unusual human society in this lost corner of the great Southeastern Pacific Ocean and we are eager to meet their descendants and learn about their culture, history, legends, and ways of life. Most lectures today dealt with fascinating topics ranging from ocean studies and the protection of Pitcairn’s waters, to archaeology, geology, flora and fauna. National Geographic Orion will drop anchor in Bounty Bay tomorrow morning and we will have our first close-up view of one of the most isolated, yet inhabited islands in the world. Read More>

Nov 22, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Mangareva, French Polynesia

Our new best friend is a volcano. We have been anchored inside it, between the reef and the island, all day—a wonderful day that has given us the opportunity to explore this amazing mountain from above and below. We have strolled through a lovely town under the shade of flowering trees, met the people living there and learned about their history and their thriving black pearl industry. We have climbed to the summit of the precipitous fang of basalt that is the high point of the island and dropped into the cool clear waters around it to wander through the coral gardens and meet a few of the exquisite reef fish that make their home there. This beautiful and remarkable place is the Gambier Islands, the southeastern most group of French Polynesia. Read More>

Nov 21, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Marutea Sud Atoll, Aceton Group

After days at sea, sailing from one small island group to the next, it becomes apparent just how vast the Pacific Ocean is. With a bit of time up our sleeves, our expedition leader Tom decided to add yet another unplanned expedition stop to our itinerary, and after rolling through high seas for days we were pleasantly surprised to find almost ideal conditions for a morning filled with water activities. With the wind still hauling, we found good shelter on the leeward side of Marutea Sud Atoll and the dazzling azure water was just too inviting not to go in for a dip. Divers and snorkelers alike found an astounding array of marine life and a wonderfully pristine and healthy coral reef. A school of moorish idols flitted over the corals, a huge sea turtle paddled gracefully beneath us, and the masters of the reef, blacktip, whitetip and grey reef sharks, glided silently past us. What a wonderful way to spend the morning in this remote part of the world. Back on board National Geographic Orion, we had the opportunity to learn more from our expert guides about the biogeography of the South Pacific and about the tiny creatures of the sea that are the reason for why our oceans are teeming with all kinds of different life-forms. Read More>

Nov 20, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Pukarua Atoll, Tuamotu Islands

As with all expeditions, things do not always go according to plan. Luckily, for National Geographic Orion, this meant exploring new territory. Veering from our original itinerary, our fearless expedition leader chose for us to visit Pukarua Atoll in the eastern most region of the Tuamotu Islands. Braving the breaking waves entering the narrow channel, our guests ventured to shore to be greeted by the boisterous locals. Though small and remote, the people living aboard the island showed great pride when showing our guests their church, the cleanliness of their streets, and most of all their hospitality. Serving bread, fruit, and freshly cooked octopus upon the hot coals, our guests dined while witnessing the dance and song performed by the locals. Read More>

Nov 19, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

At Sea

Relaxation and reflection were in the air today. As our lovely ship made its way through the Tuamotu Archipelago, guests and staff alike enjoyed a day of revitalization after lots of fun in the sun and sea at Tahanea Atoll the day before. Some decided to persevere through the sleepy haze of the early morn and caught our wellness specialist Kat’s morning stretches. After a few coffees or teas, our National Geographic photographer on board, Bob Krist, regaled us all with a colorful account of “misadventures” while on the job. Bob mentioned a beloved quote explaining his start with National Geographic, “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff!” Certainly, the audience could appreciate his efforts to indeed find the interesting stuff itself, despite logistics and weather plotting against him. After a short interim, naturalist Jimmy White give a captivating presentation recounting his experience with researching marine connectivity and the effective implementation of conservation practices. Read More>

Nov 18, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Tahanea Atoll VIDEO

A bright, brisk sea and a new atoll on the bow! Our expedition leader Tom Ritchie has decided to add some surprises to our itinerary by bringing us to Tahanea Atoll, a location the ship has never visited before.  The Captain has noticed a deep entrance to the atoll on the charts and with one eye on the depth recorder and the other on the surging current that is streaming out through the pass, he neatly brings us to anchor in a sheltered corner of the lagoon. Zodiacs down and the expedition team take out scout boats to assess our chances to land – perfect! In no time we have the snorkeling platform set up on a nearby reef, and our first Zodiac lands hikers on a shallow coral beach. Read More>

Nov 17, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

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