Daily Expedition Reports

Browse photos & daily reports sent from the field every day

Lastest Expedition Reports

  • Dominica

    At 6:33 a.m. the sun rose over Morne Diablotin (“Devil Mountain” in French Creole but the indigenous Amer-Indians called it Waitikubuli meaning “the woman whose body is so long”). The sky was a brilliant iris blue with cotton-like cumulus clouds hanging below the mountain peak. During the night Sea Cloud made from 7.2 to 9 knots over water. We had some variable winds from a gentle 3 knots to 25 knots and yet—as was apparent from breakfast—apparently everyone slept soundly and was raring to go. Dominica is at 15.34.7 latitude and is justifiably called the “Nature Isle” as despite the devastation of the category 5 hurricane that was centered here in September 2017, the foliage is quickly growing back.

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  • At Sea and Magdalena Bay

    Brilliant Venus along with Jupiter and Saturn lingered in the pre-dawn darkness as National Geographic Sea Bird motored steadily north in the peaceful Pacific towards Magdalena Bay. Frigatebirds, gulls, and pelicans caught the updrafts from the ship and escorted us past a number of humpback whales. Bottlenose dolphins tagged along for a short while, catching the bow wave that offered them a free ride. We entered the calm bay and continued north through a narrow channel flanked by mangroves and sand dunes. Then we received a fabulous Valentine’s Day gift—our first looks at gray whales! Two presentations on whales enhanced our knowledge of these fascinating creatures. Later in the afternoon we explored exquisite sand dunes etched by the wind as the setting sun cast long shadows across the landscape.

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  • Rio Claro and Las Escobas Preserve

    This morning National Geographic Quest arrived at Puerto Barrios where we boarded the pangas that would take us to an estuary along the Rio Dulce, near the port town of Livingston. We went up-river to explore a bit. Our curiosity paid off when we came across limestone walls of a canyon that were well over 100 feet from the water’s surface. In a much earlier time, this waterway served as one of the most critical channels for Mayan imports and exports. Mayan descendants still use this very river today for fishing and travel in handmade kayaks or “cayucos.”

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  • Approaching South America

    What a day! The full sea experience of the Southern Ocean started somewhere around 1:00 a.m. as conditions in the Drake Passage grew increasingly more turbulent. By mid-morning, there were gusty winds up of up to 50 knots. This did not keep us from getting out on the bridge to find nearby wildlife. We were rewarded with the occasional black-browed albatross and sooty shearwater, but the abundance of seabirds was noticeably low at this time. Our first break came around 9:00 a.m. when we spotted a pod of hourglass dolphins riding the port-side waves coming off the vessel. These were a treat to see, and there was still quite a way to go before entering the Beagle Channel!

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  • South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

    Galapagos it is the land of reptiles, and it is probably the only locality on earth where they outnumber mammals. Today we had the opportunity to see two species of endemic iguanas living in two different Island. A perfect example of adaptive radiation in Galapagos.

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  • The Drake Passage

    Leaving the sheltered waters off the western Antarctic Peninsula, National Geographic Explorer fared the Drake Passage once again. Valentine’s Day celebrations took on a range of forms today—for some it was savoring eggs Benedict or sending sweet treats from across the globe, while others spent the day in bed in a much less romantic way (coping with the motion of the ocean). Despite the rolling waves, we prepared for arriving in Ushuaia, shared photos from a spectacular trip, and attended presentations given throughout the day. One of our naturalists, Dr. Rodolfo Werner, spoke about his efforts working to establish marine protected areas throughout Antarctic waters. In the afternoon, two of our globetrotting naturalists discussed exploration in Antarctica: Carl Eric Kilander highlighted the adventures of Roald Amundsen’s career as a polar explorer and Tom Ritchie shared some noteworthy tales of Lindblad’s own trailblazing endeavors.

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    Today we enjoyed a wonderful day of adventuring on my home island of Santa Cruz. Here our guests learned about the tremendous conservation efforts underway to preserve these pristine islands. We spent the morning visiting the giant tortoise breeding center. This was a great opportunity to learn about the most successful program ran by the Galapagos National Park. We spent the remainder of the day in the highlands, where a cooler climate and a different vegetative zone was ideal for the activities that followed, including the touring of a lava tube, a short stop by a local farm, and a great time with the giant tortoises in the wild.

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  • At Sea to Dominica

    The golden Caribbean sun rose at 6:21 a.m. We had a fresh breeze of 20 knots from the starboard quarter and were making 6.2 knots over water under power. Late last night, a beautiful and large red-billed tropicbird landed on the bow of the promenade deck. There it remained, resting until this morning. It sat waiting for the right wind, and when a gust came, it was aloft and flew off into the horizon. Freedom!

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  • Sea of Cortez

    Before we’d even finished breakfast, we were called to the bow of the ship because the naturalists had spotted whale blows. As we scrambled out on deck, we saw that we were surrounded by humpbacks—and some were breaching shockingly close to our starboard side. When the surface activity quieted down, the natural history team dropped the hydrophone into the water and we could hear the various melodies of humpback whale songs. How often do you get to hear real-time whale song? What a great way to better explore the underwater world!

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  • Sailing the Drake Passage

    The last day of a great expedition always feels a bit melancholy. But as our ship makes its way back through the tumultuous Drake Passage, one is reminded in such conditions of the unparalleled starkness and beauty of the Antarctic expanse. Perhaps the significance underpinning this experience comes in having endeavored across the mightiest ocean on Earth. Or perhaps instead the value lies in the fortune of having a vessel as capable as National Geographic Orion take us into such a visceral wilderness, and just over 100 years after Shackleton and his crew famously set out to traverse across the same seas.

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

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