Location: Barbuda

A fascinating day for Ocean Star started with a 7:30 breakfast of granola fruit salad, courtesy of our Captain Smudge. Then we dinghied over to the 17-mile beach on Barbuda, which was established by the crew as agreeably the most beautiful beach they had seen in their young lives. There, we met our local guide, George Jeffrey, who invited us into his boat for a “frigate bird” tour. None of us really knew what to expect, but soon we were approaching a tiny mangrove island inhabited by what looked like bat-like dinosaurs. As we got closer, we realized there were hundreds of them among the brush, as well as circling the skies above us. There were so many that it almost looked like a tornado of these pterodactyl-looking creatures. “These are the frigate birds,” George explained. We paddled around the tiny island a bit, watching the birds in their natural habitat. The male frigates even had these strange red balloon-looking pouches under their beaks to attract mates, which bounced back and forth, as they flew. It was a bizarre but amazing sight. Nearby we stopped the boat and went for a snorkel in the lagoon to get a closer look at the mangroves. Surprisingly, we also got reports of lionfish, hawksbill turtles, and stingrays, along with the common upside-down jellyfish. After a packed morning, George brought us back to the 17-mile beach so we could get back on our boat and spend the rest of the afternoon preparing for our upcoming Oceanography presentations. The crew is now resting with full stomachs of pork stew and getting ready to go cave exploring tomorrow. Can’t wait to see what modern-day dinosaurs we might see next.