This week's photos from the field include spectacular sunsets in Antarctica and The Bahamas; vibrant bird sightings in Costa Rica and New Zealand; and whale encounters in Antarctica and Baja California.
In this new short film, the legendary mountaineer shares more about his role aboard our ships, what his childhood was like as the son of Sir Edmund Hillary, and why our expeditions keep drawing him back.
In this new short film, explore Indonesia's Raja Ampat, considered the gold standard for coral reefs around the world, and learn what makes the undersea program aboard National Geographic Orion especially unique.
On our third day at sea, we continued our sail to Tristan da Cunha. The swells and winds of the past few days have calmed, and the sun is shining. As we sail into the South Atlantic subtropical high, today was significantly warmer on deck. The morning began with an interesting presentation on seafloor mapping by naturalist Kelly! Technology has come a long way since Marie Tharp’s cartography work of the Atlantic Ridge, and scientists can map the floor with incredible detail. Today was truly a peaceful, relaxing day. As we continue our northward journey, the winds are calming, and wandering albatrosses slipstream alongside the ship. New birds are appearing, including the speckled petrel. These birds soar just below the outside decks of National Geographic Explorer . Before lunch, National Geographic writer Andrew Evans presented the fabulous presentation, “Folklore of The Albatross.” His images were so beautiful. Someone was overheard saying they wanted to rush out to buy the book! The weather continued to improve throughout the day, and we spent a lazy afternoon reading, learning to use our smartphone cameras during David’s presentation, and lounging in the sun during teatime, which included grilled sausages on the back deck! The weather was so beautiful that expedition leader Andy announced over the PA that Eduardo’s presentation on Darwin would be delayed so we could continue to enjoy the sunshine. After all, one never knows when the Atlantic weather will change…again! The night wound down with National Geographic photographer Massimo Bossano presenting on, “Shackleton and The Yellow Magazine,” a National Geographic piece on the famed explorer.
Today was another day at sea as National Geographic Explorer transitioned across the Atlantic. Our next stop is Tristan da Cunha. Days at sea tend to be similar from one day to the next. Many guests search for birds that use the wind for their long flights. You are certain to find a few staff members on deck with their binoculars and cameras. If you venture up to the bridge on windy days, there are always interesting things to observe. Once again, we enjoyed great lectures today. In the lounge, Jim Kelley presented on, “Thermohaline Circulation of the Atlantic.” After that, Kelly Ferron presented on, “Pinnipeds of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.” After lunch, David Cothran ventured into the Circle of Truth with a photography workshop called, “Settings and Techniques for Birds in Flight.” Finally, Mark Vogler shared his presentation, “Living in Antarctica: Life at McMurdo.” It is safe to say that it was a knowledge-filled day with many great presenters. The day ended with the wonderful series Frozen Planet II, Episode 4: Frozen South .
We woke up to a typical overcast and rainy day in Patagonia, Chile. Yet, the glacier carved fjords, Nothafagus beech forest, and waterfalls make every day in Patagonia one to cherish. We started the morning in a small bay in Seno Martinez where we took advantage of the low winds to send out the kayaks for a calm paddle in the soft rain around the bay. Hugging close to the rocks provided us the chance to inspect blue mussels, barnacles, and limpets along with the various foliage and berries hanging over the water. Those who opted for a Zodiac cruise got to explore farther afield and even ran into a few Magellanic penguins. In the afternoon we cruised out of Seno Martinez and into Seno Agostini passing one glacier after another as we transited an exceptionally beautiful part of Patagonia. Arriving to a sheltered bay, the Patagonian wind increased, and the rain continued, however we were up for anything and got dressed in our waterproofs to Zodiac cruise. We splashed through the water hunting for birds, nosing into waterfalls, and getting a view of the Hyatt Glacier in the distance.
hikers on shore at the beginning of the famous Shackleton Hike. They followed the last few miles of the great explorer’s journey across the island to rescue at the Stromness whaling station. National Geographic Explorer made her way around to Stromness Harbour. From there, we set out on hikes along the beach or up the valley to Shackleton Waterfall, a wonderful landmark.
The early hours of the morning found us in Maiviken, where a few of our bravest guests disembarked to take on our earliest and longest hike yet. Only a few faint rays of sun, the lazy undulations of kelp on the surface, and a group of curious seal pups welcomed us on the landing. Our target was the old whaling station at Grytviken. The early hikers and the rest of the expedition joined together to wander around the skeleton of the station, the church, and its wonderful library. It was a unique moment for us to catch our breath and stare out into the ocean, sheltered in the shade of ships abandoned half a century ago. However, staring and wandering was not all we did. We soon came upon one of the landmarks of this voyage, a moment that most of us had been looking forward to: the toast at Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave. It has been over a hundred years since The Boss died, and while there is nothing we would love more than to have him back and listen to his stories, we find comfort in making sure he will not be forgotten. We celebrated him in the same manner as many others have before us. Meanwhile, our undersea team was busy diving next to one of the piers at Grytviken, so we could all enjoy the wonders on this side of the surface as well as those that rest below. To complete an already wonderful day, we sailed to Ocean Harbour. We split into groups for hikes of different lengths and elevations so we could all explore the wonders of this bay and its rich history. We stopped at the oldest grave on the island, that of Frank Cabrial, a sealer who died in 1820. We observed the wreck of the Bayard , a three-masted ship that was abandoned after she was blown loose by a gale from her mooring in the bay. Fur seal pups, gentoo penguins, and more than a few elephant seals stared at us as we wrapped up the day and set off to our next destination.