Welcome to the Ephemeral Isles. Early this morning, National Geographic Sea Lion approached Crooked Island in the southern Bahamas. We were greeted by a graceful sunrise, marking the beginning of Lindblad’s first ever expedition to the Bahamas. This inaugural expedition seeks to explore the rich natural history, culture and landscape of the remote, pristine southern islands of the Bahamas. Even though these chains of islands are only a short distance from the coast of Florida, this is the first time a Lindblad ship has ever explored these waters, making this a true ‘expedition’ for all the guests, staff and crew on board.

After a long, rocky crossing from Exuma to Crooked Island, we dropped our anchor off the southern coast and got ready to embark on this new adventure. For our first adventure, we set out on Zodiacs to explore Long Cay and get our first look at these beautiful islands. We were also looking for a very special bird, the West Indian flamingo. The flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas, and they are reliably seen only on the southern islands of the Bahamas. We had pretty good knowledge and a record of a small flock that frequents the eastern side of Long Cay.

After about a 30-minute ride across the sea and onto the Bight of Acklins, we scanned the shoreline of Long Cay until we spotted some hints of pink. Indeed, we spotted about 20 flamingos at first. Another flock joined them later, increasing the number of birds to about 60.

We observed these majestic birds in their natural habitat for about 20 minutes. After this, we headed back to National Geographic Sea Lion to have lunch and then prepare for more adventures.

In the afternoon, we headed to a pristine white sand beach on the end of Crooked Island and split into groups. These groups included kayaking and snorkeling. While kayaking, we explored a picturesque mangrove creek that went up into the interior of Crooked Island. There we observed green sea turtles, queen conch, a southern stingray and a few species of native birds. This was our introduction to the magnificence and biodiversity of mangrove creeks in the Bahamas.

We kicked off day one of this historic itinerary with a great start, seeing several iconic Bahamian species and getting a sense of the wonder that is the Bahamian tropics. Each day this week, we will explore a different part of paradise, uncovering more discoveries and breathtaking adventures.