Meet the rest of your crew and settle into the pace of life aboard. Waste no time jumping into the turquoise water to learn how to scuba dive and earn your PADI Open Water Scuba certification, or have a quick refresher if you are already certified. Set sail for Ile Fourche, learning fundamental sailing skills while discussing the geology and natural history of the Leeward Islands. Initial lectures focus on fish ID, coral reef ecology and how different marine ecosystems interact to create a thriving marine world. A sunset hike to the top of Ile Fourche’s rocky peaks gives you a view of mountainous islands in the distance – Saba, Statia, St. Barts and St. Kitts – waiting for our discovery.
Make the short hop over to the St. Barts Marine Reserve. We find an abundance of marine life and the ideal environment to begin studying marine animal behavior and interaction, such as schooling and pairing, nesting verses territorial behaviors, predation and predatory avoidance, and more. Take a break to explore the French town of Gustavia and sample its delicious homemade ice cream and crepe desserts. Investigate the water beneath the breaking waves and how the ocean’s movement effects nearby reef systems. Learn about the delicate balance required to sustain healthy coral reefs, then dive below to map the diversity and abundance of fish and coral species on Pain-du-Sucre, Castlemount and Rockefeller Point.
Next stop, St. Kitts! Set sail with the rising sun and take a turn at the helm. In Ballast Bay, venture into the turtle grass to learn about their important role in maintaining the equilibrium between marine ecosystems. Search for vertebrates and invertebrates and collect data for our habitat analysis lab. Dry off to learn about nocturnal and diurnal species behavior, then return to the water after sunset to witness a new nocturnal world and observe fascinating behavioral changes of marine life at night. Bargain with local fisherman for their catch to use in our dissection labs, then head ashore for a little history and culture on a hike up to Brimstone Hill Fort.
The waters surrounding the island are protected by the Saba Marine Park, providing us with extraordinary underwater classrooms – awesome reef formations and the greatest species diversity found in the Caribbean. We round out our studies with discussions on life cycles, symbiotic relationships, morphology and countercurrent exchange. In the water, lay down quadrants and run transects to collect data on different types of habitats surrounding the pinnacles, walls and patch reefs of Man-O-War Shoals, Tent Reef Deep and Hot Springs. Before moving on to Statia, hike through rainforest, give back through community service projects and take a visit into town.
Sail to Statia to find a thriving marine park, healthy reefs and a growing artificial reef system. Dive below to explore the Charlie Brown, an impressive 327-foot vessel that is the newest addition to Statia’s artificial reef program. After a discussion with local stakeholders about marine resource management and the success of the Statia Marine Park, we spent an afternoon doing marine service projects to help the reserve’s efforts. Then hike to the top of the Quill and into the crater of this dormant volcano now blanketed in lush rainforest, an epic way to celebrate the end of our achievements together.