Expedition Stories

Our fleet navigates the world in search of adventure. These are the stories they bring back…

Previous Reports

Daily Expedition Reports

7/12/1999

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National Geographic Endeavour

From the Caledonian Star in Arctic

The Caledonian Star is on her way to the high Arctic. Like an Arctic tern, she travels between the north and south each year. Maybe when we reach Spitsbergen we will encounter some of the terns we saw last winter along the ice's edge of the Antarctica Peninsula. Amazing -- a bird which travels from "Pole to Pole". Today, en route along the coast of Norway, we explored some marvelous Norwegian fjords. One of the most impressive is Geirangerfjorden, with steep cliffs about 1,000 feet high. Cruising along the shoreline we enjoyed the rich flora of the lower slopes, with a fine span of trees and colorful flowers. High up on the cliffs we awed at and wondered about the odd farms clinging to the slopes, a reminder of the hard conditions that were part of the Norwegian heritage - every inch of farmable soil had to be cultivated, and the sloping patches of grazing did not seem bigger than an average lawn around an American family house. No roads lead to these isolated farmsteads, and everything needed, including cattle and sheep and the work horse had to winched up from the fjord, while the children were roped to the house wall when "playing" outside. For obvious reasons these farms are abandoned today, but kept in shape as part of the cultural heritage. Since we had a peak summer day, windless and with a glowing sun we did not encounter any trolls, the traditional Norwegian folklore giants. They are nocturnal creatures, who will turn to stone if exposed to the sun's rays. Some traces of petrified remains of them were seen in the beautiful geology of the cliffs, though: a fossil ear and nose imbedded in the bedrock! To sail through the fjord is really a journey in to the landscape with villages, folk life and impressive scenery.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/13/1999

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National Geographic Sea Bird

From the Sea Bird in Alaska

On our way to Haines this morning we stopped for a while to watch three humpback whales swimming very close to a group of Steller's sea lions. A cow-calf pair along with another whale swam in tight circles near the shore, while the sea lions took turns sliding down slick rocks into the water and then climbing back out. After breakfast the ship arrived in Haines, where everyone split up into different groups for the activities of the day. There was a raft trip offered, a great opportunity for flightseeing as the weather was absolutely perfect, and a few people went to a fishing lodge to try their luck with trout and salmon. The remainder of the guests, about 12, went on a 5 mile hike on a local trail to the top of Mt. Riley. From there incredible views were had of the Taiya and Chilkat Inlets. The photo was taken from the top of Mt. Riley looking up the Chilkat Inlet. The views of the Mountains and the glaciers to the west of Haines were spectacular.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/14/1999

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National Geographic Endeavour

From the Caledonian Star in Arctic Norway

What a day! Full day at sea with sunshine and calm conditions. The stretch up from Norway goes through the Barents Sea. Are we in the North Atlantic or Arctic Ocean? I guess the answer is both; it depends on whom you ask. The conditions for whale watching could not have been better. We were rewarded -- at least six humpback whales and several pods of white-beaked dolphins. The biological production of the sea is remarkable, as we were able to see with our own eyes. The afternoon was spent on Bear Island (see the photo), halfway to Spitsbergen. Often this island is covered with fog, but on our arrival the sun was shining. We did a landing and also a nice Zodiac cruise to see the bird cliffs and the extraodinary rock formations.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/15/1999

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National Geographic Sea Bird

From the Sea Bird in Alaska

The morning began with heavy fog in Idaho Inlet. Along the way groups of sea otters were spotted in the water. The fog began to lift as we approached the head of the fjord. Our plan for the morning was a combination of hiking and kayaking. The weather was clear and sunny once the fog completely lifted. The hikers enjoyed traveling along a bear path that lay next to the salmon stream in the picture. Several distinct bear prints were seen along the path. The walks poked in and out of the forest and on to the grassy land of the tidal flat. The kayakers enjoyed views of eagles as they flew overhead and harbor seals swimming nearby. For lunch the crew organized a beach barbecue on shore that was enjoyed by everyone. The rest of the afternoon was spent travelling out of Idaho Inlet where sea otters, harbor porpoises and a humpback whale were seen.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/16/1999

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National Geographic Endeavour

From the Caledonian Star in Arctic Norway

The Caledonian Star today explored the ice to the east of Spitsbergen. Between Edgeoya and Kung Karls Land we had good weather and also lots of possibilities for polar bear. At midnight, while we were enjoying the midnight sun we spotted our first polar bear. What an event! To meet this Arctic voyager in its own environment is always something special. Later on we found several more polar bears. In the ice we also found harp, ringed and bearded seals together with ivory gulls. Later on during the day we were able to sail through Hinlopen, the strait between Spitsbergen and Nordaust Landet. The day ended with a spectacular Zodiac landing and more bird cliffs.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/19/1999

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National Geographic Endeavour

From the Caledonian Star in Arctic Norway

Arctic exploring continues! In the morning we hoped to find Walrus and so we did. On our approach to Moffen Island we could spot more than fifty in the distance. The captain was able to bring the ship close and everyone got nice photos. It was about 65 on the beach and about 5 - 10 in the water. A large flock of Brent geese and a common loon, very rare in this part of the world, were also seen. During lunchtime we repositioned to Danskoya for a Zodiac landing to the place where Andr‚ started his famous attempt to reach the North Pole with a balloon in 1896. As we know they did not succeed and were laterfound dead on Kvitoya in 1931. The day continued with a approach to the fabulous glaciers in Magdalenafjoden. In late afternoon we did some Zodiac cruising to investigate the blue ice. How much film we spent will never be known. This great day was still not ever. The galley had set up an arctic barbeque on the pool deck and of course the swimming pool was filled with glacier water and ice. What a dinner!

Daily Expedition Reports

7/12/1999

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National Geographic Sea Bird

From the Sea Bird in Alaska

The day started out with a wonderful view of a waterfall in Red Bluff Bay, afterwhich the Sea Bird headed into Frederick Sound where several humpback whales were lunging head first out of the water in unison while bubble net feeding. After lunch the ship moved towards the northeast side of Baranof Island, where we all went ashore at Saook Bay for a hike along the intertidal zone with a few peeks into the lush temperate rain forrest in search of berries and banana slugs. We could see that bears were using the same path we were, becaause of the presence of bear prints in the mud, bear fur on the trees, and bear scat near the trail. The photo is of hikers heading back towards the Zodiac landing point in Saook Bay..

Daily Expedition Reports

7/13/1999

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National Geographic Endeavour

From the Caledonian Star in Norway

The exploration of the Norwegian fjords continues and last night, at midnight, we passed the Arctic Circle. As usual this was celebrated with glogg, hot wine, and for those who wanted, the traditional swim. The temperature was about 42 degrees F. Refreshing! Today we spent the morning in Reine, one of Norway's "cod capitals" -- a typical fishing village in the Lofoton Islands. Later in the afternoon Captain Leif Skog was able to maneuver the Caledonian Star into Trollfjord, and people were able to collect flowers from the bow of the ship. What an incredible event! We are now heading to the capital of the Arctic, Tromsoe.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/14/1999

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National Geographic Sea Bird

From the Sea Bird in Alaska

The entire day was spent in Glacier Bay National Park. On our way up the bay there were wonderful views of sea birds on the Marble Islands. There was also a chance to see a few humpback whales feeding close to the islands as well. The weather was once again great, especially for Glacier Bay. Mt Fairweather, a 15,300 foot peak, could be seen off to the west. The day was spent travelling towards the northern end of the park where the Margerie and Grand Pacific glaciers meet and calve off huge pieces of ice into the bay. We stopped in Tidal Inlet to take a look at a huge outwash plain of rock material and possibly to find bears. The picture is of the outwash plain and the U-shaped valley carved by one of the many glaciers that have now retreated up into the ice fields that surround Glacier Bay.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/15/1999

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National Geographic Endeavour

From the Caledonian Star in Arctic Norway

Into the ice! Today the Caledonian Star was able to touch the edge of the pack ice at 77.10N/23.05E on July 15, 2 o'clock. Usually this time of the year, "early summer in the Arctic," this area is full with thick and dense ice. The ice conditions are unique this year and we are now heading for Kung Karls Land. This island together with Edgeoya is now the most important polar bear breeding area in Spitsbergen. We are really in the high Arctic. Everyone has to dress warmly to be outside, and the scenery is spectacular. So far today bird sightings include thick-billed murre, black guillemot and dark phase of Fulmar. I photographed the Caledonian Star traveling through the ice in a mysterious fog.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/17/1999

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National Geographic Endeavour

From the Caledonian Star in Arctic Norway

The Caledonian Star today explored north east Spitsbergen. After a fabulous trip through Hinlopen we approached Leifdefjord, named by the Dutch whalers in early 1600. On our way into the fjord we saw our first polar bear -- and plenty of little auks, or "dovekies," as they are called in American books, flew past the ship. They are busy feeding young. We went all the way into the fjord and were able to reach the glacier face. Some of us went out with the Zodiacs but others preferred to stay on board and see Captain Leif Skog bring the Caledonian Star almost all the way into to the glacier front. On the way out through the fjord we did a Zodiac landing for a long walk on the tundra at Reindearflay. On the way back to Zodiacs we found a polar bear to which we were able to get very close. We saw it first relaxed, studying this group of strangers. Later on it went for a "bird hunt," raiding the nest of a pair of snow buntings.

Daily Expedition Reports

7/19/1999

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National Geographic Sea Bird

From the Sea Bird in Alaska

The trip up Tracy Arm was very interesting and the scenery was spectacular. The views of Sawyer and South Sawyer Glacier were impressive as the ship wound its way through the ice near the front of the glacier. On the way out of the fjord, near one of the many large waterfalls that run down the sheer cliffs of Tracy Arm, a black bear was spotted. The bear was eating the mussels and barnacles from the intertidal zone, and barely noticed us as the ship approached. Great views were had by all as the ship moved close to the cliff.

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