From Mavis McRae, Kip Evans and Mission Blue:
After being out of the water yesterday, we were anxious to dip our flippers back into the beautiful blue water, but the weather had other plans for us. As we examined the ships radar and local weather reports, all we could see for miles were bands of thunderstorms - bright red blotches moving ominously towards our position. Tropical Storm Beryl, which made landfall in Northern Florida and is now moving up the East Coast was forming up over us.
By mid-morning, lightning lit up the dark cloudy sky above us, as claps of thunder shook the boat. It wasn’t long before someone called out that a waterspout was forming and the team did what came naturally – grabbed our cameras and prepared to get wet. Out on the forward and top deck, the group watched as several waterspouts formed and broke-up in the distance. As the storm drew down upon us, a race began to tie things down before they few into the sea. [Text continues after images.]
Images courtesy of Kip Evans, Bonnie Burgess and Lisa Robertson.
Storm at Hawkbill Cay
Lisa and Bonnie
Shroud Key Beach
By late afternoon the skies began to clear and our captain, Sean Guinness made the comment that it was the closest he’s ever been to a waterspout – an even more rare occurrence for many on the boat. It was exciting to witness the power and beauty of weather, even if it was preventing us from diving.
Out of luck with diving, the group settled into the lounge with hot cocoa to hear Dr. Earle deliver an inspiring lecture about Mission Blue and her quest to protect the ocean.
By evening the weather had improved considerably and we headed out to the mangroves where a cool current spills onto one of the most beautiful beaches in the Bahamas. Framed in shades of blue and green, the beach was partially sunlit as we arrived - an inviting site after not seeing the sun for nearly 5 days. A King Helmet Conch met the group as they pulled up onto the white sand. These amazing mollusks were once harvested for their creamy pink inner shell used in the carving of shell cameos. This king was safe from the same fate due to the no take restrictions of this Marine Protected Area, The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
With the dark storm clouds looming in the distance, our picturesque surroundings spoke volumes about the sheer beauty of the Bahamas and why these precious islands need to be protected for future generations to enjoy.