All posts by ceiblogger

Slayer Campaign Launches Year-Round

nehemiah lionfish
Deep Creek fisherman Nehemiah surfaces after spearing a lionfish off the Cape.  With CEI and The Island School purchasing lionfish from fishermen year-round, it is hoped that pressure will increase on these venomous, voracious, prolific, but delicious fish.

After its initial trial launch in April of this year and a successful 4-month run, the CEI Lionfish Research and Education Program’s “You Slay, We Pay” campaign has now been re-launched, this time permanently and year-round.  CEI and The Island School will be buying lionfish from local fishermen for the price of $11/lb for scaled fillets and $5/lb for whole fish.  This effort to increase demand for the invaders coincides with an increased effort to disseminate information to local fishermen regarding safe handling of the fish; knowledge of spine locations, best treatment of stings, and easy ways to de-spine the fish will hopefully aid fishermen targeting them. Continue reading

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Coral Nursery Fragments Recover from Bleaching Events

In March of this year, CEI started a coral nursery in collaboration with scientists at the University of Miami RSMAS and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories.  With their strong backgrounds in successful coral restoration, collaborating researchers were able to advise CEI on methods for staghorn collection, growth and care, and eventual outplanting.  It is hoped that through these restoration efforts some of the coral cover lost in recent years around Cape Eleuthera might be recovered.

coral nursery bleaching
In August, staghorn coral fragments in the nursery showed signs of bleaching and absent zooxanthellae.

Coral bleaching is a phenomenon where corals lose their pigmentation as they expel their symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) out of their tissues. This event occurs when corals can no longer host their symbiont due to the high energy expenses of coping with increased water temperature for extended periods of time. If a bleaching event continues for an extended period of time, corals will eventually become covered by macroalgae and die.  However, the effects are reversible and zooxanthellae can return to previously vacated coral hosts. Continue reading

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Lyford Cay ‘Take Action’ Projects Get Inspiration from CEI Visit

Lyford Cay permaculture farm
Students worked in the CEIS farm in order to better understand permaculture as a potential sustainable solution for their communities.

Last week, a group of grade 8 students from the Lyford Cay International School flew over from Nassau to visit the Cape Eleuthera Island School. These sixteen students made it their mission to develop an idea for their year-long Take Action projects. The projects, focused on environmental stewardship, look to empower the students to push for sustainable solutions to the problems which plague their school or community. Over their three-day visit, the students focused on learning about alternative energy, water conservation, waste and plastics pollution, and permaculture.

Shortly after their arrival, students were exposed to the CEIS’s renewable energy systems during a tour of campus. Then, with the help of sustainability teacher Mike Cortina, the students explored different ways we harness energy from our environment here on campus: solar thermal to heat water as well as photovoltaic and wind to create electricity. The students were also introduced to biodiesel production, one of the crown jewels of our alternative energy systems. Continue reading

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On-track Anderson-Cabot Hall Construction Project Demonstrates Sustainable Building Practices

The Anderson-Cabot Hall broke ground in January, 2014 and is currently halfway through construction.  Once completed, this structure will accommodate up to 44 interns, teaching fellows, and graduate students who are all attracted to The Cape Eleuthera Institute for experience in tropical and marine sciences.  This is the first phase of the graduate housing facility and is on track to be completed and ready for occupancy by December, 2015.  Currently all the exterior walls are erected and the roof trusses will be installed by the end of 2014.   All potable water for this building will be collected off of the rooftop and stored in subterranean cisterns; all energy it consumes will be produced from a photovoltaic array mounted on the south side of the building which will also provide shading for windows; all wastewater will be processed on-site with grey water being reused for flushing toilets.

Anderson-Cabot Hall
Significant and steady progress has been made on the hall over the course of the last year.  Construction methods are in keeping with sustainable practices and will hopefully serve as a model of green building for other institutions in The Bahamas.

Continue reading

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Graduate Student Update: Kate McClellan Press Explores Elasmobranch Electrosensitivity

yellow ray measurement
The total length of a yellow ray is measured in the lab.

Kate McClellan Press is a PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Intercampus Marine Science Graduate Program and a fellow with the UMass National Science Foundation IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Engineering, Environmental Science, and Policy Program. As offshore wind facilities are developed across the world, the potential environmental impacts of their construction and operation must be understood, and negative impacts mitigated. One question that arises is whether transmitting energy from the wind farms to shore has any environmental consequences, specifically for electrosensitive fishes. Continue reading

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Lyford Cay Students Explore Sustainability

Conch flared lip caliper Lyfor Cay
Lyford Cay grade 12 student Sean Blyden uses calipers to measure the thickness of the flared lip on a queen conch. This indicates maturity and can be used to assess the sustainability of conch harvest around Cape Eleuthera.

In the last week of October, CEI welcomed Lyford Cay International School’s two classes for their annual visit.

Denise Mizell, a science teacher at Lyford Cay, brought grade 10 to CEIS for some hands-on learning about sustainability. Students discussed the positive impacts they can each individually have on the natural world around them. Activities exploring research areas in aquaponics and permaculture opened the students’ eyes to how difficult and often damaging it is to pull resources from the natural world. The kids were challenged to think of ways they can better improve resource management on their own campus. Snorkeling, exploring Eleuthera’s caves, and climbing the Banyan tree reinforced this idea of sustainability and inspired students to become passionate about their world and how to protect it. Continue reading

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Intern Update: Cassidy Edwards Gets Her Hands Dirty at CEI

Cassidy Edwards
Cassidy Edwards holds a green sea turtle before it is measured and tagged as part of an ongoing monitoring program.

Here is a update from Bahamian intern, Cassidy Edwards, who has been working with the Turtles, Lionfish, Sustainable Fisheries, and Flats teams:

Being here at CEI a few weeks, I got to do some amazing things that I hope will benefit research. On my first day, I went out to sea to retrieve BRUVs (Baited Remote Underwater Videos) with Eddie from the Turtle team. I got my first surprise of the day by pulling up a baby octopus. He wanted to stay stuck to the boat, but we let him free and he thanked us with ink. As the days passed, I began to help with setting BRUVs, and analyzing them, which was interesting. What I saw was spectacular; who’d have thought a crab and remora would be fighting for food!

Most of my days were spent in the field, placing BRUVs and doing turtle abundance surveys, or sometimes both. I even got to tag turtles for a study on juvenile turtle habitat use and body condition. As I continue here, I hope to tag more turtles and actually catch one.  Continue reading

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Award for Excellence in Research

swim tunnel lemon shark
A swimming respirometer controls the speed at which a fish swims, while concurrently measuring oxygen consumption.

Each year, CEI offers two in-house studentships to graduate students conducting research at CEI and teaching research class though The Island School. Applicants of the Award for Excellence in Research are evaluated based on their teaching and research experience, and the conservation relevance, publication probability, and outreach potential of the applicant’s proposal. In addition, proposals are evaluated on their ability to contribute meaningfully to CEI and the applicant’s home institution.

lemon shark accelerometer swim tunnel
Though sharks can fully turn around in the respirometer, confinement can have effects on swimming performance and energetics.

For the fall semester, University of Illinois graduate student Ian Bouyoucos received the Award for Excellence in Research. Ian’s research focuses on understanding activity-specific metabolic rates of juvenile lemon sharks so that we can better understand what happens to these sharks when caught on hook-and-line. The award will improve Ian’s research by improving CEI’s capacity to for respirometry studies through constructing a swimming respirometer suitable for juvenile sharks, barracuda, and even fish schools. CEI has used both swimming and resting respirometers extensively in the past to measure metabolic rates of fishes, as affected by angling and climate change, by measuring the rate at which fish consume oxygen in the sealed respirometry chamber.

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Bull Shark Tags Provide Clues to Migratory Movements

The Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Shark Research and Conservation Program has just started to receive data back from the satellite tags deployed last winter onto five female bull sharks. These transient sharks come to The Cape Eleuthera Marina each November and spend around four months inhabiting the shallow marina waters where fishermen clean their daily catches. Their habitat occupation and use of space beyond Cape Eleuthera has remained a mystery until now.

Bull Shark Blog Images together
(Left) Track data for a female over a 6-month period after leaving Cape Eleuthera Marina. (Right) The attachment of satellite tag to a shark.

The migratory routes of these animals has been speculated due to the necessity for females to seek freshwater in order to pup, however, the first track we have received reveals a long and exciting journey via Cuba and the Florida Keys. The highly migratory nature of this species creates challenges for conservation and management efforts as they travel across international boundaries with differing levels of protection.

Research efforts at The Cape Eleuthera Institute in collaboration with Microwave Telemetry will increase our understanding of the species by elucidating critical information about their use of space and seasonal habitat occupancy.

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First-Ever Bahamian Lionfish Jewelry Making and Awareness Workshop a Huge Success

Lionfish fins swimming
The invasive lionfish, Pterois volitans and P. miles, is noted for its characteristic brightly colored fins and venomous spines.

The lionfish, an invasive predator from the Indo Pacific currently wreaking havoc on Caribbean and South American coral reef fish populations, was first introduced to the region through the exotic aquarium trade.  These beautiful carnivorous fish have characteristic orange and red stripes, spotted and striped pelvic and caudal fins, and flamboyantly colored wide-spreading pectoral fins, which they use to corral prey.  These fins, though possibly to blame as the instigators of the devastating invasion, are now offering a new way to help control the rampant spread of the predatory fish. Continue reading

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