The National Geographic Orion silently passed over the equator at 4:00 a.m. as we sailed up the western side of Kalimantan. We were set for a leisurely day at sea, enjoying many treats from the galley and interesting presentations from our expedition team, as we continued our journey to Kuching, Malaysia. 

As photos from the past days were reviewed, we all continued to reflect and marvel at the remarkable experiences we had at Camp Leakey, and especially at the Orangutan Care Center with Dr. Galdikas. Sharing images brought smiles, laughter, and many tears of joy at the experiences we had with the young orangutans.  

As we sailed northwards in the Natuna Sea, we passed occasional local fishing boats and larger freighters. Startled flying fish would randomly streak away from our ship’s course. Inside the National Geographic Orion, Brian Skerry started our day’s programs with more marvelous images of his great passion for the undersea world with his talk, “Ocean Wild.” We learned more about his assignments for National Geographic Magazine, particularly about his work on coral reefs, and the impressive discoveries made about the dynamics of healthy coral ecosystems, which has turned previous knowledge on end. 

Brian’s presentation was followed by Dr. Rondang Siregar’s talk, “Orangutans: Stories from the Field,” based on her research and work. Ronda gave us an interesting and different perspective on the orangutan’s fragility in their rapidly shrinking ecosystem. Despite the great efforts for rehabilitation, the orangutan’s relocation in the reduced available habitat is the huge limiting factor. Her research hopes to improve methods to enable greater success, but the bottom line is simple—orangutans need more forest.  

After lunch, we were all drawn outside as snorkel gear was distributed in the humid, tropical air. Masks, snorkels, and fins appeared from storage boxes in anticipation of the days of water-based activities still to come. 

Beginning with the story of the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in the early 60’s, Lawrence Blair regaled us with another mesmerizing talk, “Adventures in Eastern Seas.” His subjects ranged from living with cannibals in Asmat to the stunning (and sometimes “esthetically challenged”) creatures beneath the sea.  

Wrapping up a day of diverse presentations, we had fun with, “Thinking Out-of-the-Shoebox: Creative Ideas for Sharing Your Photos.” This evening we were treated to a fabulous seafood buffet, a perfect end to a relaxing day at sea. We are now renewed and rejuvenated, ready to get our feet back on terra firma tomorrow.