6 Min Read
When the Galápagos giant tortoises on Española Island reached a critical low in the 1960s, one tortoise helped revive his population. Learn the story of the legendary Super Diego.
Our new ship for the Galápagos Islands, the National Geographic Islander II, celebrates the cultures of Ecuador and the islands themselves.
2 Min Read
To mark our long-awaited return to the South Pacific, Certified Photo Instructor Andrew Peacock shares some epic photos from his recent voyage aboard the National Geographic Orion.
4 Min Read
Research suggests time spent in nature positively impacts children’s wellbeing, creativity and cognitive development. Kids of all ages can reap those benefits on an thrilling Lindblad expedition in the wild.
Daily Expedition Reports
National Geographic Resolution
After sailing north from Bear Island all night long, National Geographic Resolution arrived to huge fields of floating ice surrounding the southern portion of Spitsbergen Island. That’s exactly what we were looking for, and I was already up in the bridge by four o’clock in the morning searching the ice with my binoculars. The sea ice is the very environment where one of the most impressive creatures on earth not only survive but thrive: the polar bear. The largest carnivores on the planet continuously roam the ice on a never-ending search for their main prey, seals. At Svalbard, polar bears have five different seal species to choose from: the ringed, harbor, harp, hooded and bearded seal, plus the occasional walrus or beluga, are their main prey. As we continued making our way deeper into the ice fields, we began finding a few seals and walruses and our hopes to see their predator increased. Expectation grew and everyone’s eyes were glued to their binoculars or spotting scopes. Suddenly one of our naturalists, Kerstin Langenberger, said what we were eager to hear: “polar bear!” Sure enough, a creamy-colored dot in the ice started to grow as the bear walked towards the edge of the ice in our direction. Trying not to make any noise and lowering our voices, we admired the gorgeous bear with binoculars and telephoto lenses. We watched as the bear suddenly jumped and broke into a seal’s den in the snow looking for a young pinniped meal. But, there were no seals in the den and the bear came back empty-handed, so to speak, and continued its search for breakfast moving away from us. What an amazing sight! We continued our own search for more wildlife and not long afterwards, Kerstin again directed everyone’s attention to another creamy spot in the ice. But as we got closer the creamy spot divided into two: a female polar bear with her cub! Being a good mother, she was cautious and slowly walked away from the strange thing approaching her, but regaled us with marvelous views of her and the little guy. What a treat! We also had the chance to watch another marvelously strange creature, the walrus. In fact, we found a several of them shortly before dinner, scattered over the ice in pairs or by themselves. Their long distinctive tusks are unique and quite a sight that photographers eagerly captured with their cameras. What a wonderful day exploring the high Arctic around the Svalbard archipelago! PHOTO: Female polar bear with her cub at Storfjord, Svalbard. Photo by Carlos Navarro
National Geographic Quest
We’ve had an extraordinary few days on National Geographic Quest . This morning was meant to be a calm cruise as we made our way towards our afternoon anchorage. A chance for us to rest and perhaps revive some of our serotonin levels. Unfortunately, our guests were subjected to yet more unbelievable wildlife before breakfast was even completed. Captain Lyon described what looked like cooperative feeding by humpbacks ten miles in front of the ship’s position. Guests, staff, and crew lined the bow with our binoculars and spotting scopes glued to the water. We spotted a multitude of spouts in the distance and confirmed no less than ten humpback whales. As we approached, guests were notified that perhaps it would be worthwhile to leave breakfast for later. What followed was an unbelievable display for all. Working as a team, twelve humpback whales engaged in bubble-net feeding. The whales surfaced seven times. At many points, the entire bow erupted in applause. Undersea specialist Amy Malkoski and expedition diver Luke Manson deployed the ship’s hydrophone so we could hear the singing whales as they hunted. It was a truly unbelievable start to the day. We continued cruising toward our next location, taking a brief detour to visit Kasnyku Falls to take pictures before lunch. Luck was on our side, and the weather and the tides made it possible for us to stop at the rarely visited Takatz Bay. We deployed hikers and kayakers for a truly unforgettable afternoon. Our guests enjoyed a bushwhack hike through untouched forests to view the ocean in a neighboring cove. Fresh bear trails and deer prints lined the way. A calm, clear day allowed for photos of perfect reflections from our kayaks later in the afternoon. More than a few drinks were raised in the lounge to toast our amazing day. We told stories about our day long after dinner was over. We now turn our eyes to tomorrow morning, when we will visit historic Petersburg. Photographers: Luke Manson and Shayne Sanders
I let the guests sleep in a bit this morning after a long but very successful day out on the Pacaya River yesterday. We had breakfast at 0700 and then boarded our skiffs to explore the narrow, black water Iricahua Creek. Sharp-eyed “motoristas” (Dennis, Armando and Edison) drove the three skiffs. Naturalists Jorge, Javier, and Ricardo were each in one of the boats. All three skiffs found reptiles, many species of birds, and several mammals. One skiff caught an angelfish. In the afternoon, we offered kayaking and then skiff exploration on the Yarapa River. The kayakers had perfect, cool weather for a quiet paddle downstream with the current. They observed a low hanging sloth, monkeys, and birds flitting in the branches overhead. The exercise was welcome after a good number of delicious gourmet meals aboard Delfin II . Later, we went by skiff further up the Yarapa River, winding our way through a small channel into a peaceful oxbow lake. Here we found giant water lilies, yellow-headed blackbirds, and a pair of nesting jacanas with four eggs in a nest on a lily pad.
National Geographic Islander
We started the day by visiting South Plaza Island, one of the small islands around Santa Cruz Island. We found sea lions to welcome us as well as a few pairs of swallow-tailed gulls nesting on the ground. Galapagos land iguanas were very abundant along the trail, mainly where prickly pear cactuses offered ripe fruit to the reptiles. We also observed a few of the iconic seabirds found on these islands, such as blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and Galapagos shearwaters. In the afternoon, we went snorkeling along the coast of Santa Fe Island. Guests were excited to observe many species of colorful fish, such as parrotfish, king angelfish, razor surgeonfish, and whitetip reef sharks. Right after snorkeling, we disembarked to visit Santa Fe. Our main goal was to find Santa Fe land iguanas, a species endemic to this island only. After accomplishing our goal, we went to see a large sea lion colony basking on the sandy beach at Santa Fe.
National Geographic Endeavour II
Early in the morning, we came ashore to explore Bartolome Island, one of the most iconic places in the Galapagos. In the afternoon, we visited Chinese Hat, a very old scoria crater located at the foot of Santiago, not far from Bartolome Island. Our intrepid guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II explored the terrestrial and marine worlds of Bartolome and Sombrero Chino. Our day began with an invigorating early morning hike to the summit of Bartolome. We climbed 376 steps to enjoy a breathtaking view from different angles. It was well worth the effort to get to the top! During the Zodiac ride to the disembarkation site, we observed a few seabirds hunting over the ocean, including boobies, pelicans, and noddy terns. Bartolome Island offers a diversity of geological formations, including volcanic ash and a plethora of spatter cones. Guests learned about some of the pioneer plants of the Galapagos, including the endemic lava cactus. Afterward, they explored the marine world surrounding Bartolome, coming face to face with whitetip reef sharks, penguins, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. In the afternoon, guests snorkeled around the coastline of the peculiarly shaped islet, Sombrero Chino. They swam with Galapagos penguins, tropical fish, and reef sharks. We concluded the day’s activities with a peaceful Zodiac ride along Sombrero Chino as we discussed the geology of the Galapagos and the unique wildlife found in the area. Photographers: Christian Saa and Walter Perez