Location: English Harbor, Antigua
On day 24 of our adventures at sea, we delightfully received an 8 am wakeup call followed by scrambled eggs and toast. The morning consisted of leisurely walks to shore, shopping, baked goods, and study sessions in preparations for our Oceanography physics quiz and literature review presentations. As this was taking place, the divemasters in training practiced and reviewed teaching gear set up and the 25 open water skills. At midday, the entire boat assembled again and headed into preparations to explore Sting Ray City, a tourist attraction further inshore. After a 30 min car ride, we arrived at the facilities anxiously and filled with anticipation of what would await us. We jumped onto a pontoon boat with masks and snorkels in hand and headed out for an open patch of sand in the middle of a distant reef surrounded by turquoise crystal clear waters. As the boat was tied off, we began to see large circular dark figures swimming beneath the boat. While many of us half expected to see stingrays locked in pens for tourist attractions, we instead found wild free stingrays in their natural habitat. We were instructed to enter the water, and as we did, it seemed like we were immediately circled by 24 large majestic 5ft long stingrays. Some of us screamed and squealed while they came up and brushed their sides against us while others were dazed by their beauty. As we took pictures and fed the kindly creatures, you could hear, “it sucked it up like a vacuum” and “ahhhhhhh it touching my legs.” It turned even the most camera-shy and timid amongst us into states of hysterical laughter and joy. Everyone was smiling and cracking jokes as we held, pet, and were able to enjoy the company of these fantastic creatures. It was easily the most enjoyable and exciting moment of the trip thus far. Furthermore, we came back on board to find our chefs preparing burritos. The night ended with dinner talks and preparations for our quizzes and presentations, but yet another perfect ending to a perfect day on our home aboard Ocean Star.