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Daily Expedition Reports

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Lastest Expedition Reports

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

Casual and Yanayacu River

We awoke to our first day of our Amazon trip on the Maranon River, excited in anticipation of our upcoming adventure. At this time of year, the river is rising and we had spent the night tied to a tree on the bank (as is the practice)! It was cloudy at 6:00 a.m. when we piled into our skiffs and headed up a small creek that had been impassable just the week before as the water had been too low. As we motored up the creek, we heard many birds as they awoke to start their day too. We were lucky enough to see 3 different kinds of kingfishers hunting from branches hanging over the water. The smallest, the Green Kingfisher, had caught a fish that looked way too big for it to swallow, but amazingly it managed it. In the tree tops, we saw couple of small toucans feeding and the donkey-like bray of the horned screamer filled the air. It was such a peaceful way to wake up that it was hard to return for breakfast. After breakfast, we headed to the community of Casual which maintains a series of trails on a high area called Terre Firma that never floods. Read More>

Nov 16, 2015 Delfin II in Amazon

Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia

As the first dawn light breaks across the horizon, the National Geographic Orion sails through the narrow passage of the Fakarava Atoll. As we prepare to embark on our trusty Zodiacs for the journey to shore, the rhythmic beat of the drums breaks the early morning silence. As we approached the shoreline the drums grow louder and louder. Read More>

Nov 16, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

Fernandina and Isabela Islands

Three hundred thousand years is not enough time for a far-flung volcanic island to be completely populated by wildlife. However, it is plenty of time for some species to adapt and successfully reproduce in the pristine island of Fernandina. Our morning outing took place at Punta Espinoza in Fernandina Island, once known by English sailors as Narborough Island, named after John Narborough. Read More>

Nov 16, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

South Georgia, Hercules Bay

This bowl-shaped indention in the northern shore of South Georgia Island was named in the early 1900s for a Norwegian whaling ship that sought shelter from foul weather. We sought that same shelter this morning and found enough of a lee to have a successful if slightly damp morning of Zodiac cruising.  More than one guest confessed to having doubts about going out, but they added afterwards the rewards were worth the effort. Read More>

Nov 16, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Bartholomew and Rábida Island VIDEO

In the early hours of the day we landed on Bartholomew Island located in the center of Galapagos. This one is one of the best places to learn about the volcanic history of this archipelago and also has the most iconic landscape. After climbing several wooden steps we reached the summit of Bartholomew and from there we also observed some of the islands around this region as well as the craters that were active at some point in the volcanic history of this island. Later when we returned aboard, we got snorkeling gear and headed to the shore to explore the underwater world. Read More>

Nov 16, 2015 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Salisbury Plain and Prion Island, South Georgia Island VIDEO

The long-anticipated moment has arrived: our arrival at the Antarctic Island of South Georgia.  Last night we completed our remarkably smooth and comfortable voyage from the Falkland Islands to drop anchor in the Bay of Isles, near the northwest corner of South Georgia.  There, on the long, low beach of Salisbury Plain, and extending up onto the adjacent hills, we find an estimated 60,000 breeding pairs of king penguins, the second-largest colony on South Georgia.  Why waste any of the day?  At 5:00 AM we were boarding our Zodiacs for the trip ashore, a chance to view and photograph the penguins, elephant seals, and fur seals in the early morning light.  The sight and sounds defy description: hundreds of king penguins cavorting in the surf near our beach landing; thousands more standing in groups molting their old feathers in preparation for breeding, and then the colony, itself - tens of thousands more packed cheek to jowl. (Do penguins have jowls?  I think not.)  King penguins have a most unusual breeding system.  Eggs laid last December and January hatched into small, gray chicks that became larger juveniles clothed in brown down that looks ever-so-much like a bearskin coat (or, some would say, like young sailors coated in the mixture of frayed rope fibers and tar called oakum), and these have survived the winter with infrequent meals from their parents.  Now, these "oakum boys" stand in the colony in groups, waiting for a parent to return to feed them.  Soon they will complete their development and exchange their brown down for a handsome coat of gray, white, and black feathers with the bright orange splash that will identify them as king penguins.  For the afternoon outing, we moved a very short distance to Prion Island. Read More>

Nov 15, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Makatea Island, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia

We made an unscheduled expedition stop this afternoon at the amazing Polynesian island known as Makatea, sometimes called Aurora Island. It is located in the northwest region of the Tuamotu Archipelago and is one of only four islands among this huge group that is not an atoll. It is a raised coral island (or makatea) and is very different-looking compared to the typical low, sandy, coralline islands spread through out this region of French Polynesia. Politically, Makatea is administered as part of the Windward group of the Society Islands Makatea Island is very important from a historic point of view because the center of the island was once a solid mass of phosphate that was produced millions of years ago when the island was submerged and large amounts of rich organic material decayed on its reef. Read More>

Nov 15, 2015 National Geographic Orion in Pacific Islands & Australia

North Seymour and Rabida Islands

Located at the central part of the archipelago, North Seymour and Rabida Islands offer a great number of attractions, not only from the point of view of marine life, but also geologically. We were fortunate to have excellent weather conditions today, and after breakfast we headed to North Seymour, a small and flat island which is home to thousands of sea birds. From a distance it looked dry and barren, covered with dry vegetation, but walking inland we observed how different and unique this place is. Land iguanas, blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigatebirds were delightful to our guests, who observed many different chicks with their fluffy feathers and male frigatebirds with their inflated red sacks, producing unmistakable calls, trying to obtain a mate. Heading inland, we encountered frigatebird chicks awaiting a meal from their parents, as they sat atop rickety nests that appeared to fall apart as they rested upon them. Land iguanas slowly moved in and out of the dry brush, and we came upon one that was trying—unsuccessfully—to rip apart a pad from the opuntia prickly pear cacti. We began to understand the complex process of evolution that began millions of years ago, and the poor conditions that these creatures had learn to survive, after an accidental arrival from the mainland. When we arrived to the coast, the terrain changed dramatically, and we observed many blue-footed boobies pointing at the sky and bringing their wings forward with a very loud whistle, with the intent of attracting a mate. Read More>

Nov 15, 2015 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

At Sea Towards South Georgia Sailing by Shag Rocks

Days at sea can be taken a bit as ritual of passage. In this modern age, we are used to getting from one side of the planet to the other in a few hours, and having to spend a couple of days at sea really helps put things into perspective and us in the frame of mind of the early explorers of these latitudes. They left home for a year, perhaps two, and if things went wrong, even more. But they never questioned the length of expedition time—that was what it took to get things done. Sea time is also the chance to see some of the most amazing creatures we are going to see in this voyage, the seabirds of the Southern Ocean. Read More>

Nov 14, 2015 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

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