Dawn found National Geographic Orion sailing northwest from the Kimberley Coast toward Ashmore Reef Marine Park, part of the Australian External Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Island. The park is 630 kilometers north of Broome and only 111 kilometers south of the Indonesian island of Roti. The diversion was a navigational requirement of the Australian government, and it provided us with a relaxing day at sea with opportunities for observing seabirds and marine mammals.
Our watchfulness was rewarded with many sightings of sooty terns and brown boobies, as well as the less common masked and red-footed boobies, bridled terns, and lesser frigatebirds. Flying fish kept us entertained with their amazingly long flights over the gently rolling waves. In the afternoon, a mother and calf humpback pair gave us a thrilling show.
A full schedule of indoor activities competed with time spent on deck. We heard great lectures on the natural history of the Kimberley from Martin Cohen, on the secret life of sea snakes from Adam Woolcott, and on the world of Australia’s Aboriginal peoples from Birgit Aikman. Many guests also enjoyed tours of the ship’s galley, and just about everyone made sure to attend the ice cream social in the afternoon. We ended the day energized to resume our explorations of the incredible Kimberley.