Our luck with the weather held for another day, and we woke at Woody Point to bright sunshine and the promise of temperatures in the mid-70s. An intrepid dozen or so guests departed with two naturalists for a strenuous hike to the top of the Tablelands while the rest boarded buses for a drive to the top followed by a short hike with a Parks Canada ranger and, of course, some Lindblad naturalists. The morning’s centerpiece was the mantle section of the Bay of Islands ophiolite complex, a cross-section through a mid-oceanic spreading ridge now thrust up onto the continent where it can be observed. The rocks have undergone metamorphic changes, converting their original olivine to serpentine with a distinctive surface texture. This process releases trace heavy metals in the rocks, which render the soils toxic to most plant life apart from carnivorous Newfoundland pitcher plants, the provincial plant of Newfoundland and Labrador. During lunch, the ship repositioned across the bay to Norris Point for afternoon activities. Half the group visited the Bonne Bay Aquarium, affiliated with Memorial University in St. John’s, while others took a short bus ride to Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse.
National Geographic Explorer
We spent another fine day in Twillingate, a community of 2,000 folks on a five-mile-long island on the east coast of Newfoundland. The guests split up into different walking groups led by the natural history staff. Several adventurous folks hiked up the hill outside of town to observe an overlook over the whole community strung out along the bay. Other groups went on nature and photo walks on the outskirts of town. We walked across the metamorphic rocks on this extension of the Appalachian Mountains, admiring the colorful layers and quartz veins. There were many brightly colored buildings, wood crab traps, and quaint fishing boats along the harbour. Sprinkled throughout the town were several churches and cemeteries of different sizes and shapes. Most surprisingly, we observed wild and domesticated flowers everywhere. After our walks, many of us converged on a brewery to sample the various types of beer made there. There were several gift shops and art galleries in this artistic community, including a digital arts festival happening this weekend. Perhaps the most unique artworks were the large, knitted characters displayed on several buildings, which provided much humor for the guests. During the afternoon, we relaxed and packed our bags for the departure tomorrow. We admired the beautiful coastline as National Geographic Explorer cruised southeast along the rocky coast. Then, we spotted whales! We spent an hour in the sunlight watching humpback whales surface with spouts. They swam along the surface and then dove back down to feed in this rich ocean along an upwelling zone. During the evening, we had the captain’s farewell cocktail party and dinner. It was a relaxing way to finish this amazing journey around the Canadian Atlantic provinces.