Location: Soufriere, St. Lucia

Hello all! I’m writing you today from the magnificent island of St. Lucia. We’re attached to a mooring line just off the west coast, south of the town of Soufriere, and right next to the Pitons. The landscape here is to die for! Beautiful peaks falling right into the sea, and we’re close enough to shore, that we can hear the sounds of the diverse rainforest at night…it’s absolutely amazing and proves to be one of the most unique islands thus far. Today began with a bit of an early wake-up so we could get on shore to meet our tour guide to see what St. Lucia had to offer in a timely and organized manner. After a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and banana bread we were off in the dinghies, and before long we were in our taxi. First destination…the sulfur springs…which were the visual representation paired with the smell we can smell on deck…rotten eggs. They were amazing to see! The volcanic processes of the island happening right before our eyes! The boiling water, and tiny bursts of mud above the water, like tiny geysers, were captivating and truly a sight to see. The volcanic activity that created this archipelago of islands still boggles my mind every time I think about it, and to understand and learn about how the earth created such beautiful places, while visiting them, is such a gift. From the springs, we ventured to the Diamond Botanical Gardens, which are privately owned, and include a waterfall, mineral baths, and an array of the flora the island has to offer. Our last destination, was the hot springs available to bathe and enjoy ourselves in. After a short walk through the luscious vegetation, we arrived at the hot springs, and felt the beautiful sensation of the natural creation from the volcanic activity. After our tour we came back to the ship to have lunch and prepare for our practice reef check for the SMMA (Soufriere Marine Management Area). This entailed diving in pairs along a 100m transect line (one in shallow water and one in deeper water) to count the abundance of indicator fish, invertebrates, and substrate type. The dive site, Rachette Point, was one of the most diverse and abundant sites we’ve been to thus far, and a treat to be able to explore, while participating in scientific research. It was good to be able to have a practice session before the actual reef checks tomorrow. It’s invigorating to be able to get the opportunity to work with the SMMA, after hearing about their management strategies and approaches for the uses of their coastal waters. They have truly developed a functional and effective way to manage the marine waters here, both ensuring preservation and the economic benefits to fishermen of the island. After the dive, while on our way back, some of us got to peek into the bat caves from the ranger boat, which held lots of little guys screeching away…if only we had a smaller boat to travel into the crevase! After getting back on board, we had a bit of down time to swim, shower, read, play music, or whatever one desired. We had a delicious dinner of salad and vegetable chicken stirfry with a backdrop of a golden sun dipping below the horizon. Another day through, yet each seems like the first…since no day is the same, and always exciting. Note: Today two members of Ocean Star departed….and it still doesn’t seem real. Getting back on the boat after you both left…there was a feeling in the air of sadness and confusion. I feel like you both are going to be pulling up on a dinghy tomorrow to join us once again, and brighten our lives aboard. Know that we miss you terribly….and that dinner has never been so quiet with you two missing. We love you and will carry you with us everywhere we head to in the future. You may have left, but your spirits have not…and how could they when they were so vibrant and truly beautiful. I feel lucky to have had the time with you that I did and to have had the opportunity to meet you both. You’re beautiful inside and out!!!!