In my many years spent exploring the Galapagos Islands, I have had the privilege of witnessing and reporting on a variety of extraordinary events. As we navigated along the western coast of Isabela Island near Ecuador Volcano this morning, I experienced one of the best sightings of cetaceans that I have ever observed in these remote realms.

We found a large pod of bottlenose dolphins early in the morning, and we felt so fortunate! Many of these fascinating marine mammals appeared swiftly and began to bow-ride the ship. Clear waters and calm seas allowed almost perfect conditions to observe the dolphins, just a few feet away from us, with amazement and joy. They were so close that we could hear the dolphins’ calls as we watched the juveniles swim with their mothers!

Shortly after, we observed a second dolphin species frolicking in the distance–common dolphins. The icing on the cake came just a few minutes later when we enjoyed a wonderful encounter with the rarely seen short-finned pilot whales. The whales swam placidly alongside National Geographic Islander. The sighting was so spectacular that most of the ship’s crewmembers joined our guests and natural history staff to observe. We were all so excited and joyful! What a magical event!

It is impossible to explain in words the array of feelings that an event like this can provoke in all of us. These emotions and experiences will remain with us forever. Life is good!