Exploring the Depths with DCMS & CEI Shark Team

The importance of scientific outreach is empirical to the goals and objectives of the Cape Eleuthera Foundation, aiming to educate and inspire the next generation of young scientists.

Friday 14th February saw the arrival of the Deep Creek Middle School’s seventh grade to the Cape Eleuthera Institute, as part of their current ‘Schools Without Walls Program’. The program allows students to experience education outside the 4 walls of an ordinary classroom, and throws them head first into aiding and studying current scientific research practices. The goal of the project is to offer an alternate learning experience in which students have the opportunity to ‘learn-by-doing’.

Fridays class lead by shark team's Mackellar Violich and Oliver Shipley
Fridays class lead by shark team’s Mackellar Violich and Oliver Shipley

Friday’s class was led by the Shark Research and Conservation Program’s Mackellar Violich and Oliver Shipley who tackled the topic of deep ocean exploration using the MEDUSA BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video) Unit. The MEDUSA Unit was kindly donated by CEI collaborator and senior board member Dr Edith Widder, from the Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA – www.teamorca.org) in fall 2013 for her second spell here at CEI. This specific study aims to assess the abundance and diversity of organisms occupying the great depths of the north-east Exuma Sound ocean trench, using a relatively non-invasive video technique.

Retrieving the MEDUSA alongside the Cobia.
Retrieving the MEDUSA alongside the Cobia.

The session exposed students to the different oceanic depths zones, and their associated biological characteristics, as well as an informative breakdown of MEDUSA’s components and mechanical operation. Students then travelled out on the Cobia to aid and witness the first Medusa deployment and recovery since October 2013, as well as having the opportunity to snorkel the deep-blue of the Exuma Sound.

The Shark Team plan to continue their seasonal deep-water surveys in the coming weeks, allowing for a comparative analysis with the 9 successful deployments last semester.


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