At Sea, Bay of Bengal

May 10, 2015 - National Geographic Orion


At Sea, Bay of Bengal
Three Killer whales in the Bay of Bengal.

The Bay of Bengal in the far eastern corner of the Indian Ocean alludes to tales of travel and trading. During the previous few days in Sri Lanka we have been experiencing the rich culture surrounding the western Bay of Bengal. Now as we head east across what is the largest bay in the World, we are looking forward to the new cultures and experiences that await us in the Andaman Islands.

Getting to these remote and seldom visited islands will take two days of sailing and this morning the sighting of three killer whales at 9:45 a.m. proved to us that a day at sea on board the National Geographic Orion need not be any less interesting and exciting than an expedition day. These intelligent animals are found in all oceans of the world, but sighting them this morning was an exciting surprise. The sighting was such a surprise that it delayed our first presentation of the trip from our Global Perspectives guest speaker Lawrence Blair as we piled out onto deck to witness these incredible animals.

There are few, if any, people in the world that parallel Lawrence’s insight into this diverse and multi-cultural corner of the globe. Listening to his talk “The Sub Continent and Its Islands: Sri Lanka and the Andamans,” was a unique chance to learn more about the fascinating islands we have enjoyed and will be enjoying this week. With no more killer whales scheduled to welcomingly interrupt our morning program, the photo team delivered their first presentation before lunch entitled, “Introduction to Expedition Photography.” Considering the wealth of experiences we’ve had in the past 24 hours it was great to get hints and tips from the on board experts, including National Geographic photographer Jay Dickman.

In addition to learning about how to get the best shots on an expedition like this, today we also learned about spotting wildlife from the ship. Mike Greenfelder, another of our photo experts and a keen and knowledgeable naturalist, gave us some helpful guidance: a keen eye, a pair of binoculars and plenty of time out on deck will set us in good stead. Considering we’d already encountered blue whales and killer whales, we have seen how rewarding such efforts can be.

It is hard to believe that a day so packed with knowledge and wildlife could get any better, but of course it could. A pod of spinner dolphins were spotted in the distance a mere 30 minutes after Mike’s talk – his advice for spotting wildlife was clearly working. Although the dolphins didn’t approach closely, many of us were out on deck and managed to get a look at these characterful creatures before our Global Perspectives guest speaker, the esteemed Valerie Taylor, introduced the first of her 3-part video series, “Shadow of the Shark.” To sail on an ocean voyage such as this in the company of Valerie Taylor adds a whole other dimension to the trip. Valerie delivers an insight into the ocean that nobody else can equal. Our day at sea was certainly proving to be just as interesting as an expedition day, and what’s more, our Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party this evening proved it could be just as exciting.

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About the Author

Erin McFadden

Undersea Specialist

Erin was born and raised in Scotland in the small coastal town of Dunbar. She decided to leave home at the age of 17 to pursue her interests in marine biology and scuba diving. Five months in the Bahamas cemented her passion for these interests and over the course of the next few years Erin worked in Cyprus and Zanzibar, as well as completing projects in South Africa and Mozambique.

About the Photographer

Mike Greenfelder

Undersea Specialist

Mike learned early on that the best way to escape Ohio was to become a marine biologist.  During college at Wittenberg University he attended a semester at Duke University's Marine Lab — that time only confirmed his love for all things oceanic and maritime.  After graduation, Mike promptly moved to Catalina Island in California where he taught marine biology to school kids.  Since 1999, Mike has been working and traveling chasing his three loves: marine critters, photography, and birds.

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