The Banda Sea, 12/4/2022, National Geographic Orion
National Geographic Orion
Indonesia & Papua New Guinea
With glassy seas and no swells for most of the day, our day crossing the Banda Sea was a day for sitting on the bow and seeing what appeared. Flying fish were our constant companions, taking off as the ship approached. Many different species were discovered. Occasionally, a brown booby joined the party and attempted to catch the fish. It was entertaining to watch and a bit frustrating to photograph.
Various seabirds visited throughout the day, including an Abbott’s booby floating on a log. Some dolphins were spotted as well, and a highlight was a pod of a few hundred short-finned pilot whales. This amazing group of marine mammals lounged at the surface and surrounded our ship at one point. As sunset lit up the sky behind us, we made our way to great things ahead at Banda Island.
Mike learned early on that the best way to escape Ohio was to become a marine biologist. During college at Wittenberg University he attended a semester at Duke University's Marine Lab — that time only confirmed his love for all things oceanic and ma...
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.