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Floreana Island

Floreana Island, known also as Santa Maria or Charles Island, sits in the southern region of the archipelago, bathed by the Crownwell Current. We woke up early today to visit Cormorant Point before breakfast to see greater flamingoes. Surprisingly, we also found three Chilean flamingoes among them. The temperature was lovely as we walked along a white sandy beach, where evidence of nesting by Pacific green sea turtles was everywhere. After breakfast, we sailed to Champion Island where we took a boat ride looking for the elusive Floreana mockingbird, which is extinct on the main islands. Read More>

May 23, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Española Island

An incredibly strong equatorial sun broke the calmness of the horizon as we awakened on Gardner Bay at Española Island. This low lying island appears to be dry and drab, however we quickly learned that it holds many surprises as we started our exploration. Early morning kayakers paddled along the coast, and as they approach the seashore, life appears in many forms. Large opuntia prickly pear trees towered on the coastal cliffs, anchored to the basalt bed by a shallow root system.  Española mockingbirds flitted about, making their lyrical calls, and the occasional Pacific green sea turtle slowly broke the ocean surface to take a breath of crisp cool air. Once the kayakers had returned, we had a hearty breakfast before heading back out to explore the undersea world. Snorkelers headed to Gardner Islet to encounter large schools of razor surgeonfish and white salemas. Halfway through our outing, young Galapagos sea lion pups decided that we might make excellent play mates, and they started to blow bubbles at us and grabbed some of our fins. We eventually ended our morning at one of the most pristine beaches on earth, surrounded by a sparkly turquoise sea. A short navigation brought us to Punta Suarez and one of the densest wildlife sites in the Galapagos archipelago. Read More>

May 23, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Oporto, Portugal

After a lovely evening sail out of Lisbon yesterday, we woke up to enjoy a relaxing but educational morning at sea. One of our cultural specialists, Miguel, gave a presentation on the Portuguese Age of Discovery and our photo instructor, Jennifer, gave us with tips and guidelines to improve our photography skills. After lunch we split into different types of vehicles to explore the charismatic city and World Heritage site of Oporto. Read More>

May 23, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Europe aboard NG Orion

Cascade Creek & Petersburg

Contrast is the degree of difference between two qualities or settings. While this term is used quite commonly in regards to photography it also applies very effectively to life aboard an expedition vessel. One moment you are waking up in the cozy and warm comfort of your bed and the next finds you out hiking through crisp and cool Alaskan temperate rain forests. Enjoying an informative lecture and conversation in the lounge regarding various forms of energy in the region contrasted with sitting atop a boulder on the shoreline reflecting on the complete quietude of the intertidal zone. Having all the luxuries one could hope for from hot showers to an espresso machine on National Geographic Sea Bird to the pristine wilderness of Southeast Alaska really allow for the best of both worlds. Walking along mist shrouded trails, steps carved right into and through the otherwise impassable rocks, allowing easy access deep into the woodland that would in different circumstances take considerable effort to navigate through. Here, one is able to go trekking into an unknown ecosystem, unenlightened of the nuances of how exactly the plant life is struggling to out compete each other, just taking pleasure in the aesthetically stunning sights. But on the way back, thanks to informative naturalists, eyes (and minds) have been opened and now the trees have names and stories that help us to decipher the beautiful mystery of this place. The main juxtaposition of the day is from morning to afternoon, where we go from the rugged backcountry to comparative metropolis of Petersburg. Read More>

May 23, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Southeast Alaska

Southeast Alaska offers many extraordinary sights, and today we saw not a few – eagles on icebergs, whale tails and marbled murrelets – but little compares to a big pile of poo.  There is a philosophical question that has long puzzled humanity, but at last we have an answer and the answer is: Yes!  At Williams Cove we found bear scat, and we knew it was mighty fresh, since its creators - a sow and three brown cubs – were still feeding nearby at the forest’s edge.  What they left looked quite like horse dung, since at this time of year brown bears eat like a horse – primarily on grass-like sedges.  Along the trail we found another pile, this of a black bear.  This one was white as snow, the remains of a blackie’s favorite springtime meal – barnacles!  But further along the trail came the morning’s climax – a veritable ursine outhouse, scat scattered in a score or more of impressive piles.   In the afternoon we looked for more piles – piles of ice. Read More>

May 23, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Shetland Islands, Scotland

Well what a day for the final day of our voyage! Waking to rare Shetland sunshine and blue skies made our earlier than usual start a bit easier. With a number of outings on offer—geology, archaeology, and wildlife experiences were all up for grabs. Our bus travelled south to Sumburgh Head where, bathed in warm light and a gentle breeze, the view south to Fair Isle was glorious. Puffins flew in and out from their clifftop burrows allowing great photo opportunities. With over 100,000 breeding pairs of puffins, the Shetland Islands are home to about 20% of the British and Irish population.  There are few experiences to match a close encounter with one of these, and the beaming smiles all around told their own story. Nearby, the archaeological site at Jarlshof had many other stories to tell. Read More>

May 22, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in British & Irish Isles

Endicott Arm

This morning those aboard National Geographic Sea Bird were awoken at 4:00 a.m. to the announcement of whales. Weary eyes stirring from slumber gathered on the bow and were not disappointed as killer whales breached around the ship. Heading south down Stephens Passage we were surrounded by humpback whales followed by more killer whales as we made approach to Holkham Bay. We passed a huge iceberg with two bald eagles perched on top and got a sense that their bird’s-eye view gave them that perfect perspective to monitor all the activity above and below these incredibly rich waters. A Steller sea lion thrashed a fish as gulls flocked this pinniped for scraps. All this activity in one area gave us an immediate appreciation for the wildness that is Alaska. After crossing the Tracy/Endicott moraine we immediately started combing the intertidal and adjacent meadow for bears. Read More>

May 22, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Gozo, Malta & At Sea

As the sun rose above the eastern horizon, when, if by magic, the great stone ramparts of Fort St Elmo shed their cold gunmetal grey appearance—stone by stone when struck by the golden rays of dawn’s sunlight. Sea Cloud slipped its moorings lines and headed out of the Grand Harbour and into the Mediterranean for our first morning at sea. The strong gale force winds of the past few days had all but blown themselves out, leaving us with gentle westerly winds and rapidly calming seas. We had the opportunity to marvel at the crew going aloft just after breakfast as we relaxed in our deck chairs and felt the sun and salt breeze on our faces–a perfect way to get over the rigors of a long transatlantic flight. After a morning at sea and a lunch of fresh grilled sea bream, we dropped anchor off the small port of Mgarr on the southern tip of Gozo, the second largest island in the Maltese Archipelago. Read More>

May 22, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Española Island

Our first jump into the east Pacific Ocean occurred mid-morning. Our guests had already received a safety briefing from our expedition leader, Paula, and the natural history staff helped to get everyone outfitted  for snorkeling gear, and so out the door we went – to adventure! The water is getting chilly (low 70’s F; low 20’s C); but the fish sightings…fabulous! King angelfish, streamer hogfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, surgeonfish; however, the stars of the show were definitely the five juvenile sea lions who dashed by at great speed, made sharp turns, blew bubbles, and in general entranced all of us with their elegance and dexterity. Read More>

May 22, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Iricahua Caño & Puerto Miguel

Our last full day of exploration of the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve in Peru was filled with all the required ingredients that have made this expedition a memorable one with great animal sightings, cultural experiences with the local inhabitants of the area, wonderful company and excellent meals with regional flavors. It might sound like a cliché but unfortunately this week has gone so fast. This morning we explored “Iricahua Caño” by skiff rides. Read More>

May 21, 2016 Delfin II in Amazon

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Please note: All Daily Expedition Reports (DER's) are posted Monday-Friday, during normal business hours.

 

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