Commemorating an Historic Milestone in the Galápagos
The decades-long effort to protect the Galápagos Islands realized an important milestone on January 14 when Ecuador’s president Guillermo Lasso signed a decree to conserve more than 23,000 square miles of ocean around the Galápagos Islands and beyond. Lindblad Expeditions founder Sven-Olof Lindblad was honored to witness this historic moment.
Today was an amazing return to Bahía Magdalena after almost two years away. We were glad to return to Baja California to see the grey whales. We even met the first calf of the year. I have to say, it felt incredible to be among the grey whales again.
I’m not sure it is possible to fit more into an Antarctic day than we did onboard National Geographic Resolution today. An exciting navigation through the ice in Penola Strait this morning had Captain Martin jumping about on the bridge like a cat on a hot tin roof. He released some energy in a polar plunge later on. Our first Zodiac cruise of the trip took place under a brooding sky in the ‘iceberg graveyard’ of Pleneau Bay. By the afternoon, we enjoyed exquisitely calm conditions for kayaking in Girard Bay. A few seals hauled out on ice floes seemed indifferent to our desire to photograph them doing something other than snoozing! An after-dinner transit of the famous Lemaire Channel completed an eventful day.
After leaving Antarctica, we are heading for Coronation Island in the South Orkneys. In the morning, we sailed through a field of tabular icebergs that dwarfed the ship! We spotted Coronation Island around lunchtime and deployed Zodiacs in the small bay between Coronation Island and Monroe Island. Chinstraps by the thousands covered every rocky surface. We spotted Antarctic fur and Weddell seals spread out amongst the penguins, and right at the end of our tour, we spotted a leopard seal making a meal out of a chinstrap penguin. As we left the South Orkneys and headed for the South Sandwich Islands, we started to see blows of whales. First, there were a few blows, then several blows, then more and more blows visible all around the ship. We were sailing in whale soup! Everywhere we looked, whales blew at the surface. On closer inspection, we found that these were fin whales by the hundreds, in addition to a smallish blue whale and a smallish humpback whale amongst the group. The whales were sub-surface feeding on krill in the area. In the collective memories of all staff on board, we have never seen so many fin whales in one spot. It truly was a whale of a day!
Today was our first full day on the Pacific side of the Baja California Peninsula. We awoke to a number of humpback whales diving off La Entrada, the opening to Bahia Magdalena, located between Isla Santa Margarita and Isla Magdalena. Turning south once inside the bay, we prepared for a full day of activities on the water and on shore. Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, photo walks, beachcombs and long hikes through the desert all made for a wonderful day of adventure on Isla Santa Margarita. To top it all off, we ended the day with a delicious beach barbecue, complete with a campfire and s’mores! An incredible sight on today’s walks included an endemic cochemia cactus, with bright red flowers to boot. This cactus is found only on Isla Santa Margarita and Isla Magdalena. Recent rains made for abundant flowers and leaves in the desert and offered great opportunities to practice photography.
We spent most of today enjoying the beauty and serenity of Coiba Island and nearby Coco Islet. The underwater world is the highlight at Coco Islet. Snorkelers marveled at the fish and sea turtles. The beach near Coiba Island’s ranger station was the launching place for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, birdwatching and photography. Both locations were great for swimming, soaking up the sun, taking in the views of the surrounding islets and enjoying our last full day in Panama.
Joining us on any expedition means signing up for adventure; and the reward for your curiosity is inevitable—the most exhilarating experience of pure discovery possible.