Emma E. Cooper Primary school joined us last week for an afternoon tour. However, this was no typical tour of campus! The entire primary school came with Kindergarten through grade 6, a total of 83 students and 8 teachers; we had quite the group! It was their first visit in 4 years and all were more than excited to be here at Island School.
Seven Queens University students, a group of visiting students from Ontario, Canada here fulfilling the field requirement for their teaching degree, came to lend a hand. We split the students into groups where they rotated between three different stations. In the Wet lab, they not only saw all the checkered puffers, bonefish, juvenile lemon sharks, lionfish, yellow stingrays, cobia, tilapia, etc. but they also learned how and why we are studying these marine species. The next station was a virtual tour of a coral reef – a movie by BREEF (Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation) where the students learned what makes a coral reef, its importance in the Bahamas, and how to protect this fragile coastal ecosystem. The third station was split between the farm with pigs, ducks and a permaculture garden, and the sustainable systems of campus. The systems tour exposed students to how we make biodiesel for our school vans, resource/recycle ~90% of what we use, and how we reduce our energy “footprint” by using solar panels and a wind turbine to produce energy. Continue reading →
CEI attended the 2013 Rock Sound Homecoming as part of their community outreach, and engaged the local community members in a conversation about marine conservation.
The CEI booth was packed with information on a range of issues including plastics awareness, conch conservation, sharks, climate change, bonefish best handling practices, aquaponics, and aquaculture info. We also had free giveaways! The fried lionfish and tilapia samples were a big hit, especially with all the local kids! The aquaculture mini system and free lettuce was also very popular. The day in Rock Sound was great fun – thank-you to all the CEI staff and interns who help run the booth. Look forward to the next homecoming!
On the Maxey’s recent trip to South Africa, Chris Maxey had the opportunity to visit the Save our Seas Shark Research Centre and met with Michael C. Scholl, CEO of Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF). Michael is interested in expanding the educational outreach program at the Shark Centre and is sending two educators to join The Island School Teacher Conference this summer to help enhance the experiential elements of the new curriculum. Dr. Edd Brooks has been working with SOSF and the Shark Centre since 2006 and Chris Maxey’s son Brocq started working as an intern at the Shark Centre when he moved to Cape Town in 2009. Other Island School students have also participated in the research internship program.
There will be internship opportunities available both at the Shark Centre and also through an expeditionary organization, Shark Explorer, where Brocq Maxey currently works as a dive master and underwater photographer.
Picture caption: Chris and Brocq Maxey with Dr. Michael Scholl at the Centre
For ten days, seven volunteers representing four countries came to CEI to assist with data collection for a long term research project led by Dr Alastair Harborne from the Marine Spatial Ecology Lab. School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland. The group was looking at mangrove and reef connectivity, along with scientists Rod Wilson and Kat Sloaman, who were investigating parrotfish behavior. Every day they ventured out to the patch reefs to conduct fish surveys and physical reef data.
On Tuesday morning, CEI had an exciting visit from a local South Eleuthera primary school, Wemyss Bight Primary. Mrs. Paul’s grade 4 class came for a morning field trip as a way to supplement their curriculum on the topics of ocean resources, ocean pollution, and ocean movement (tides & currents). While visiting our campus, they explored the various sustainable systems including the farm, orchard, biodiesel lab, resource center and the wet lab.
The wetlab proved to be one of the most exciting spots on campus, as this group of 10 year olds was able to see juvenile lemon sharks, yellow stingrays, checkered pufferfish and the freshwater tilapia found in our aquaponics system. This gave them a taste of some of the current research projects at Cape Eleuthera Institute and the valuable marine resources found here in the Bahamas. Continue reading →
The Bahamas National Natural History Conference wrapped up on Friday Mar. 8. The fourth and final day of the conference included an informative session dealing with queen conch ecology and management. CEI’s Claire Thomas gave a presentation on the status of queen conch populations in South Eleuthera. The populations are in decline, and Claire presented powerful graphs showing a significant decrease in adult conch in Cape Eleuthera, utilizing data collected by previous CEI queen conch researchers Erin Cash and Steve Auscavitch. Catherine Booker from Community Conch also spoke on reconsidering queen conch management in the Bahamas, and showed data from population surveys that Community Conch has done, revealing a disturbing trend that remaining stocks may not have high enough densities for mating to occur. Following the conch talks was a roundtable discussion, where a steering committee was formed to address the new idea of “conch”servation. The committee consists of government officials, representatives from NGOs including CEI, the Bahamas National Trust, and BREEF, and conch fishermen. Continue reading →
Day 2 of the Bahamas National Natural History Conference had a session devoted to new research on life history and management of a popular gamefish of the Bahamas, the bonefish (Albula vulpes). The bonefish session, moderated by Dr. Dave Philipp, Executive Director of the Fisheries Conservation Foundation (FCF), started off with a talk by UMass PhD student Chris Haak, who discussed his findings on the early life history of bonefish. With his findings, he theorized that juvenile bonefish actually mimic another species in the flats ecosystem, mottled mojarra, as a way to blend in with their schools for protection from predation.
Next to speak was Dr. Karen Murchie from the College of the Bahamas, talking about movement patterns in bonefish and experiments with acoustic telemetry. She found that bonefish move regularly among tidal creeks in South Eleuthera, and was able to follow some fish for almost two years! Dave Philipp then discussed the reproductive ecology of bonefish, and some implications for conservation in the Bahamas. He emphasized the importance of determining source/sink populations to inform management. Continue reading →
The Island School and CEI’s journey to becoming a zero-waste campus while extending the
concepts of this model to our neighbors on the island of Eleuthera has taken patience, but we are
now excited to announce we are one step farther.
This particular initiative began in 2010 as CEI outreach collaborated with the Deep Creek
Homecoming Association at its annual homecoming festival “Conch Fest” using the tagline “da Creek gone green”. CEI worked diligently with the food vendors to source products that promoted sustainability and were a viable alternative to using Styrofoam. The venture was particularly challenging, as sourcing the right company to provide the products proved difficult. The import duty on Styrofoam-alternative products was 45%, which made using these to replace Styrofoam was an unattractive and expensive option for the average resident. Through generous sponsorship, CEI provided the products to the vendors, which drastically reduced the cost of going green. Continue reading →
Over the holiday break, CEI Lionfish Research and Education Program Manager Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick took a trip to the states to promote CEI lionfish research. She traveled to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C., and presented a talk entitled “Not on my reef,” discussing the threat of invasive lionfish to Caribbean marine ecosystems, and efforts to mitigate the problem. She also presented on other current CEI research, while highlighting the organizations’ goals of research, outreach, and education. Thanks Jocelyn!
The Aquaponics team has been busy harvesting lettuce throughout the holiday season. Before Christmas, Kristal Ambrose, Aquaponics technician, along with interns and other staff, harvested a total of 45 lbs. of lettuce, grown in the aquaponics grow beds at CEI. This lettuce is watered with the “waste” water from the tilapia tanks. The lettuce filters out nutrients, making the water suitable to be recirculated to the tilapia. This type of water recirculation system uses 98% less water than typical agricultural lettuce grow beds.
Besides being used in the dining hall, the harvested lettuce was handed out to CEI employees, as well as community members throughout South Eleuthera, making for a joyous holiday season for all.