Banda Neira, Maluku Islands, Indonesia, 12/5/2022, National Geographic Orion
National Geographic Orion
Indonesia & Papua New Guinea
The volcanic islands of Banda Neira make up a spectacular location. The local Banda people gave us a warm welcome as we sailed into the harbour escorted by an extremely large canoe. The large party of paddlers sang and coordinated their paddle strokes.
Throughout the morning, we explored the township and its narrow streets. The history of Dutch colonialism remains very visible, reflecting significant events in the past that connected this island to the entire world through the spice trade.
In the afternoon, we were treated to an amazing experience. We snorkeled along a coral garden with a dense coral cover that has grown over the lava flow from a volcanic eruption in the early 1980s.
Erin Katie is a biologist from the Northern Territory Australia. Having grown up in remote parts of the country such as the Kimberley and Central Australia where she developed a curiosity for landscapes, ecology and particularly the wildlife.
National Geographic Orion sailed east through the Solomon Sea towards Guadalcanal, our final destination. On the ship, there was a mixture of excitement to see the next island and relaxation as everyone took advantage of the last day aboard. We learned how to edit photos and watched a slideshow that encapsulated the wonderful adventure we just completed. During sunset, the lights of Honiara began to appear. What a day! What a trip!
Another day at sea, and it did not disappoint! The day started out with immaculate sunshine and clear skies. The sun was shining fiercely as we sailed towards our final destination. After breakfast, naturalist Lisa Hornak began a presentation on her work but was promptly interrupted by a pod of pilot whales! Everyone rushed to the bow to get a look at these beauties. We were easily distracted by the pantropical spotted dolphins that came to ride the bow and entertain us for quite some time. The dolphin treat was followed by a synchronized pilot whale show! The cetacean viewings were incredible, and it was only 10:00 a.m. We resumed the program, and Lisa presented her work on how climate change is affecting a small community in India. The seas were as glassy as a mirror all afternoon. Flying fish of all varieties sprinkled the surface of the sea, with every ripple appearing as if someone were skipping stones. Blue ones, pink ones, yellow ones, and polka dot ones; the color combinations were endless. An announcement was made, and guests flooded the bow for the ultimate challenge: photographing the flying fish. In the afternoon, we were treated to the final episode of Ring of Fire by guest speaker Lawrence Blair. The seas pulled us back out to the bow to view more pilot whales, terns, boobies, shearwaters, and flying fish. The clouds mystified us, and a rainbow appeared right in front of us. The day could not have been any more scenic! The evening sunset was a beautiful beginning to our Captain’s farewell cocktails, followed by a luscious gourmet dinner. To cap it all off, we ended the festivities with a rip-roaring trivia quiz night hosted by Lisa Hornak and National Geographic photographer Gabby Salazar. A great time was had by all!
We awoke just south of the island of Papua New Guinea and continued heading east throughout the day. We were back in deep blue water and in the realm of flying fish. We spotted many seabirds today. Feeding flocks of wedge-tailed shearwaters were a highlight. A variety of presentations kept us busy, along with time spent enjoying the nice weather on deck. Late afternoon brought a rain squall, which resulted in a double rainbow.