Location: Soufriere, St. Lucia

The crew of Ocean Star woke up to a gorgeous view of a tiny isolated beach frequented by a few brightly painted local boats. Our mooring is nestled up right at the base of the Petit Piton, a nearly perfectly cone-shaped remnant of a huge volcano. After breakfast, we headed into town for a meeting with the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA), a group working to preserve the health of the coastal marine ecosystems in St. Lucia. They’ve established a long-termed reef monitoring program, which we’re all fortunate to be involved in while we’re here. The students have spent several weeks studying the fish and invertebrate species that are found on reefs in this region so that they’ll be able to accurately record data on their own reef surveys. After lunch, we all headed out for a practice run, diving along two 100 m transects, recording everything from grouper to fire coral on our underwater dive slates. Back on Ocean Star, we checked over our gear and data. Everything looked good, and all systems are “go” for the real deal tomorrow! As we all lounged in the sun on deck after some group showering and tired from a busy day, we were approached by several “boat boys” in their colorful dinghies, selling everything from carved calabashes to fresh fruit. Distant Thunder’s ripe avocados and mangoes turned out to be in high demand, and we all emptied our pockets and spoiled our appetites before dinner.