Daily Expedition Reports

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Lastest Expedition Reports

  • Bay of Pigs and Zapata Peninsula, Cuba

    The DER below is from the expedition to Cuba that began on February 15, 2017. We spent our first full day on the southern coast of Cuba in a great and very interesting way; some went to the Zapata Swamp National Park to go birding, whereas the rest of us visited the site museum at Playa Girón to learn more about the battles that were fought there during the invasion attempt of April 1961. Read More

    • Feb 19, 2017
    • Panorama II in Cuba
  • Sand Dollar Beach & Hull Canal

    Our first outing of the voyage occurred today on the magnificent island Magdalena, which is a long, low and sandy structure. Both sides of Magdalena Island are beautiful, but the Pacific side is wider and longer, and we call it Sand Dollar Beach—because of the abundance of sand dollars, animals that are related to sea stars and sea urchins. Naturalists and guests alike stretched their legs walking on the sand dunes, and discovered a myriad of organisms as well as signs of their presence. In particular, molluscans and crustaceans called our attention by their abundance and diversity, like these photos show. In the afternoon, the National Geographic Sea Bird transited along the Hull Canal and everybody on board enjoyed the presence of many gray whales, cows and calves and single individuals that performed multiple breeches! . Read More

  • St. Lucia

    The sun rose this morning at 6:10 a.m. I spied St. Lucia’s famously majestic Pitons rising over the sparkling bay shortly after. There were a number of us on the port side awaiting the view. The village of Soufriere (“Sulphur Air”) was our port of call. Soufriere was the first capital of this independent island nation and is located in the south west of St. Lucia. The town of Soufriere (population 11,500) sits on the west end of an ancient caldera, which volcano blew the western ridge of the mountain chain away about 39 thousand years ago. It last erupted in the mid-18th century. The setting is picture book perfect. Once at the caldera we could see the fumes from the boiling cauldron bubbling with molten rock, sulfuric gases (hydrogen-sulfide), and a viscous dark mud water mixture. Read More

  • Havana, Cuba

    The DER below is from the expedition to Cuba that began on February 15, 2017. I have had the pleasure to photograph Havana for the last three days and nights, and it is with some sadness that I walk these streets for the last time this morning, as we head to Cienfuegos and our upcoming Cuban adventures. Read More

    • Feb 17, 2017
    • Panorama II in Cuba
  • Los Títeres–Hull Canal & Sand Dollar Beach

    On our final day of this wonderful week, we entered again into the breeding territory of the migratory gray whales, at the northern end of Magdalena Bay. The area, known as the estuary of Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, is where mothers use the interior of this channel to stay protected and raise their newborn calves. During lunch, we sailed back down the Hull Canal with the assistance of our local pilots and we went for the last adventure, across the sand dunes at Magdalena Bay, to visit Sand Dollar Beach.. Read More

  • Bequia

    The sun rose over the Grenadines at 6:10 a.m. At 8:30, we boarded our tenders and landed in Port Elizabeth after a brief ride. The lovely village of Port Elizabeth is the major town on the island. Once we disembarked the tenders, we got on our covered pick-up trucks for our visit to this lovely isle. Bequia was settled first by the Taino and then Carib Indians. Scots were bought over quite early as indentured servants in some considerable numbers in the early 18th century and they have remained. The few surnames, e.g., King, Simmons, and Sweet are evidence of their ancestry. There is also an early residual population of French you can hear in their name of Oliverier. The demographics of Bequia, whose population is about 6,000, is unlike many of the other islands we have visited as it retains a substantial Euro-American population. Like all the islands we have visited, however, the races did eventually mix and there is now a rainbow of racial colors all living harmoniously. Our first stop this morning was the beautiful overlook of Mt. Read More

  • Genovesa

    Located up in the northernmost part of the archipelago, quite distant from any of the central islands, this particular place is somehow extremely interesting, isolation has been the key here for sea birds and they are the most numerous inhabitants of the place. The early morning light gives as a very good opportunity to see the walls of the crater that collapsed a few million years ago. This place has a special kind of atmosphere, Nazca boobies, swallow tailed gulls and the very colorful red footed boobies together with the contrasting landscape, make it one of the very interesting sites to be explored around this enchanted archipelago. The white coralline beach and the red mangroves are the nesting place for red footed boobies. Read More

    • Feb 17, 2017
    • National Geographic Endeavour II in Galápagos
  • Cienfuegos, Cuba

    The DER below is from the expedition to Cuba that began on February 8, 2017.Our last full day in the mesmerizing country of Cuba was spent exploring Cienfuegos, a French Colonial town named after General Cienfuegos – the town’s name does not mean 100 fires!  In the morning we explored the Plaza Marti and a state owned farmers market, followed by a visit to the Benny More School of Art. Read More

    • Feb 17, 2017
    • Panorama II in Cuba
  • Magdalena Bay

      Today would be dedicated to getting out in our expedition landing craft to spend time with the California gray whales. Everyone who wanted was out for at least two rounds. There was also a chance to go ashore and explore the sand dunes of Isla Magdalena. The presence of this long barrier island is what creates the shallow protected waterways that the gray whales use to raise their young. The tidal movement forces the females with calves to swim against the strong ebb or flood tide in order that they don’t get sucked out of the bay. This helps to strengthen the calf, because in the month of March these cow/calf pairs will begin the long voyage north towards the feeding grounds in Alaska. The weather was quite calm as we headed out from the ship.  There were a few adult “chase groups” in which female whales were being followed by males hoping for a chance to mate. Theses adult groups can swim quite fast and change direction often, so they can be difficult to keep track of. The cow/calf pairs are much more predictable given the small size of the calf and its need to breathe at the surface more often than the females. There were several cow/calf pairs around the ship and our landing craft all day. Many close looks were enjoyed and a few whales even showed curious and then friendly behavior. This behavior began in the 1970s and has led to the thriving whale watching industry that exists today.. Read More

  • Union Island, The Grenadines

    We sailed out of Prince Rupert Bay in Dominica last night on our way south to the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Sunrise was at approximately 6:35 a.m. over the island of Bequia. Our destination of Union Island is a three-hour sail further. The weather was a 77 degrees Fahrenheit at 8:00 with a breeze from the east. The crew went aloft at 8:15 to hoist sails. Our speed under sail was 7.2 knots. At 9:30 Tom Heffernan gave a talk on the languages of the Caribbean. After Tom’s talk Ian gave an introduction to the use of the iPhone camera. We had a good wind for much of the morning and sailing was superb. Lunch was on the Lido Deck and after lunch we got ourselves ready for our visit to Chatham Bay on Union Island. Read More

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