Voyage 7321 Day 7

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Day 7 - October 9, 2013 - Bequia

By Maria Gomez-Berning, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: 13° 00’ 24” N 61°15’ 16” W
Weather:
Air Temperature: 28.6 °C / 83.5 °F


Today we awoke while still sailing. At 8:00 am, when going for breakfast, our biologist Chris spotted a sperm whale approximately 300 m from Silver Explorer. It was an excellent start of the day.

About an hour later we dropped anchor just outside Port Elizabeth, Bequia. This island is the second largest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and, living up to its name, which in Arawak language means “island of the clouds”, it was indeed cloudy.

At 9:30 am when the Expedition Staff disembarked, it was not only cloudy but also rainy and we got our “Caribbean baptism”. Fortunately, during our guests’ disembarkation, the rain stopped and the sun was trying to show its face. A little later, the zodiac groups 3 & 4 disembarked and went to visit the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, while the rest of the guests could choose between exploring the island at their own leisure or heading to Princess Margaret Beach. I spent the forenoon at the beach, but because of the rainy weather not many guests joined us. However, those who did had the opportunity to enjoy swimming and snorkeling in warm sea water, with a visibility of more than 10 m and an explosion of colorful fish. 

A lot of fascinating animals and their behaviours could be observed. Young morays, the bearded fireworms and numerous beautiful sponges were amongst them. It was also delightful to see how hundreds of newly hatched baby fish were searching for protection amongst the long, black spines of the sea urchin Diadema antillarum. But the highlight of this first immersion was a big octopus who was apparently staring at me long before I could notice it myself.

 At 1:30 pm the zodiac groups 1 & 2 disembarked and I joined them on our island tour. We went on modified pick-up trucks with wooden benches. On each “bus” a tourist guide was explaining the names of the villages, the stories behind their names as well as their most important buildings. Our guide, Anita, told us also about the economy of the island, how over the years people have been struggling to find something they could sell or trade, and how they managed to live a whole year with the incomes of approximately four months of tourist season.

 Our tour led us to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary where tanks with turtles of all ages were welcoming us. There we were introduced to the project, its origins and goals by the famous Orton “Brother” King. We continued to the southern part of the island were we shortly visited the airport and the fishing village of Paget Farm. Then, we went on to Lower Bay where we could enjoy a tasty rum punch and a sunny, white, sandy beach. 

At this point we had the options of going back to Silver Explorer, exploring the capital of the island, or enjoying again Princess Margaret beach. As a marine biologist, I couldn’t help but choose the latter option, and once again jumped into the water for another truly exciting snorkeling adventure. This time I was surprised by a majestic group of six manta rays, which quietly approached me. In a flurry of excitement I was shouting through my snorkel! What a perfect day.

Back on Silver Explorer we watched Ray Stranagan’s wonderful video about this incredible voyage through the Lesser Antilles. Time flies and our lovely guests and Captain Maggie are leaving Silver Explorer in Barbados tomorrow. It has been a fantastic week with countless memorable activities and experiences in beautiful Caribbean places, and it was a great pleasure for me to share this time with you!

I went to sleep with the image of a cute baby goat sleeping in the lap of its mother in La Pompe, and the surreal vision of a lonely toy sailboard being pushed by the wind in Paget Farm.  

 

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