Lyford Cay International School in New Providence brought 25 bubbly 5th graders down for a 3 day sustainability program at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. Besides learning about topics such as Bahamian ooidic limestone, ocean pollution, and permaculture, students also learned first hand how biodiesel is made from used cooking oil by making a “test batch” in the lab.
This group of students was the youngest group to ever do a run-swim! A run-swim is a morning exercise where students go through a series of short runs and short swims before climbing a sea wall, jumping off a cliff and run-swimming back to campus. Run-swims are always a highlight for visitors and of course a great way to start your day off on the right foot!
Lyford will be returning in the fall with more grades, more science, more fun and more learning!
Although one of our youngest overnight programs, Lyford Cay 5th grade students blew us away with their prior knowledge on sustainability as well as their excitement to learn even more through experience!
Last weekend, the Sustainable Fisheries team packed up a van full of educational materials and headed to Governor’s Harbour for the annual Earth Day event, hosted by One Eleuthera, to showcase the ongoing sustainable projects at The Cape Eleuthera Institute.
Representatives from Aquaponics and the Center for Sustainable Development also joined to demonstrate their projects. A working model of an Aquaponics system using a tank with tilapia and a grow bed with lettuce and basil resting on top, informed onlookers on ways to harvest both fish and vegetables sustainably. Many young kids were also enthralled by the demonstration on how to make biodiesel from used vegetable oil.
As for the Sustainable Fisheries team, the lionfish displayed prominently on the front table of the booth was a huge success, luring people in to ask questions about the invasive predator. For many children who passed by, this was the first lionfish they had ever seen. When asked if they had ever eaten lionfish, many of the visitors to the booth had never tried it, but the team encouraged people to start asking for lionfish in restaurants to increase the demand and create a more prominent fishery for lionfish. Some Bahamians and visitors were hesitant to try because of the venomous spines, but when they looked over the fillet guide on display, many people seemed to be interested in filleting and preparing their own lionfish in the future. A handful of people who spearfish told the team that whenever they see a lionfish they spear it because they know they are harmful to the reef. Most, however, did not know that they could eat lionfish and they were excited when they discovered they could eat the white and flaky lionfish meat.
Many women loved the idea of using lionfish fins to create earrings, and the younger groups passing by enjoyed touching the fins on display. Many of the children left the booth with face paintings of lionfish and sea creatures and kept coming back for more.
For those who signed up for The Cape Eleuthera Institute newsletter and weekly update, their names were entered into a raffle to win a “Lionfish Slayer: You Slay We Pay” t-shirt. Two lucky people received the shirts after two drawings, and pictured below is one of the winners, Ann Gates, a frequent visitor to Eleuthera.
ZNS, the local Bahamian news station, interviewed one member of the Sustainable Fisheries team about our projects on invasive lionfish. The segment will be shown to inform people who were not at Earth Day about the invasive predator, the destruction they are doing to the reefs, and ways that we can help with the invasion by eating and wearing lionfish!
Last Saturday morning, members from the Deep Creek Homecoming Committee and community partnered up with Deep Creek residents from Cape Eleuthera Institute and students and faculty from The Deep Creek Middle School to do a trash clean-up in an effort to get the streets of the settlement clean for their annual Homecoming in early June.
Trucks and equipment were provided by the Center for Sustainable Development and 5 loads were taken from the main road. All participants were shocked by the amount of trash found on the road and were vocal about the need to continue their efforts with more Clean-ups and education on waste management, as well as additional waste bins and signage around the community to motivate the proper disposal of trash.
The slogan for the Deep Creek Homecoming is Coming Together to keep The Creek Clean, Green and Pristine! and one member from the committee said that “the residents are striving to live and breathe the slogan to truly bring it to life for the Homecoming and afterwards”.
The Clean-up began at 9AM and ended at 12PM, just in time for the start of the Fish Fry, intended to raise funds for the festivities in June. At the Fish Fry, food vendors used all compostable packaging in order to keep plastics and harmful disposables not only off the streets but out of the dumps.
After loading the five truckloads of trash, the members of the clean up crew got together at CEI Intern, Georgie Burruss’s home to celebrate their efforts with snacks and music.
The Clean-up attracted around 40 people and is the first of a proposed monthly effort in Deep Creek and one that hopes to be a model that inspires other communities to do the same.
This past Saturday, the Sustainable Fisheries team travelled to Rock Sound for the annual Homecoming to represent The Cape Eleuthera Institute. The booth, decorated with educational materials pertaining to invasive lionfish, was a success. Both locals and visitors approached the booth with questions and were intrigued by the live lionfish that was on display in a tank on the table.
As people wandered by, the team educated the curious onlookers about the venomous spines, how to properly remove the spines and fillet the fish, common misconceptions about the lionfish, as well as the damage they are doing to the reefs.
The team also advertised the Slayer Campaign; this campaign incentivizes local fishermen to spear lionfish. The team emphasized how tasty lionfish are to eat, pointing out the “You Slay, We Pay” motto hanging from the tent next to the wonderful illustrations of grouper, conch, and crawfish holding up signs saying “Eat More’ Lionfish”..
The team wore their lionfish fin earrings to show off the beautiful jewelry that can be made from the non-venomous spines, so not only are lionfish tasty, but they can create beautiful, sustainable, jewelry.
Bags of sustainably grown lettuce from the CEI/CSD aquaponics system were handed out to also people about the other projects at The Cape Eleuthera Institute.
The Sustainable Fisheries team will have a similar booth set up for Earth Day and they hope to continue raising awareness about the different research projects happening at the Cape Eleuthera Institute and how to live sustainably.
In March, Florida State University Master’s students Brendan Talwar and Mackellar Violich, and Flats Ecology and Conservation intern Georgie Burruss traveled to Great Exuma to present at the Bahamas Conservation Symposium. The Symposium was organized by the Exuma Foundation, the Elizabeth Harbour Conservation Partnership, the Bahamas Marine EcoCentre, and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and hosted by the Exuma Foundation. The idea for the Symposium arose as a way to share scientific knowledge on the years that the Bahamas National Trust Conference does not meet. The Symposium was open to a general audience, drawing in community members of the Exuma Cays as well as local scientists.
Brendan Talwar gave a talk on deep-sea sharks, followed by Georgie Burruss’s talk on the Bahamas Initiative bonefish tagging program and their recent bonefish tagging trip to the Exuma Cays, and Mackellar Violich presented on deep-sea diversity, the Medusa project, and deep sea traps. Continue reading →
On Friday, January 23, the Sea Turtle Research Team was joined by the Grade 7 students from Deep Creek Middle School. The day was started by reviewing the biology of different species of sea turtles and talking about why sea turtle species are declining. The effects that humans are having on sea turtles worldwide were also discussed, as well as what students can do to protect the threatened species. The knowledge that DCMS students already had about sea turtles and their habitats was impressive! Continue reading →
This past Saturday, the Deep Creek Middle School Early Act and Eco Club teamed up with Preston H. Albury High School’s newly formed Eco Club to sort plastics 1, 2, and 5. It wasn’t the prettiest job – sorting plastic bags and food containers and removing bottle caps from a few hundred bottles – but friendly competition made it fun as three groups each tried to sort the most! Continue reading →
Eleuthera was recently visited by a group of students from Williams College (Massachusetts). Their trip focused on Eleuthera’s food systems, with a focus on sustainable production. Over the past two weeks these students conducted interviews with farmers, restaurant owners, food market attendees, and fishermen all over the island. They also studied the sustainable systems we have right here at the Center for Sustainable Development (CSD), particularly the organic garden and the aquaponics system, which feeds roughly 125 people/day.
They ended their trip with a 45 minute presentation to a full room of Island School, CSD and CEI staff, that concluded with a 5-10 minute rough cut of the web video that they are making for One Eleuthera, the local non-governmental organization that partnered with Williams College in their local surveys.
Williams College has been blogging about their trip and their findings, which you can find here. Return to the site in early February 2015 to access their final report, “Eleuthera’s Promise.”
Deep Creek Primary School, with the assistance of The Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI), has started a new initiative to build a school community garden with the aim to provide students with access to healthy meals and nutritional awareness.
The planning phase for this project began in October of this year. Deep Creek Primary School teachers and CEI staff met to discuss the potential of a collaborative project that would not only be educational but also provide students with the opportunity to gain valuable practical skills.
A Parent Teacher Association meeting was held in mid October to ensure that all key-stakeholders were incorporated in the planning process and that there was sufficient backing to support the initiative. The meeting was a great success with demonstrated support from teachers, student’s parents and local community members. An assessment of the surrounding grounds was completed by the key-stakeholders and an area adjacent to the school was chosen for the location of the proposed garden.
In early November the first gardening day was held with a great turn out; 21 community members and 8 CEI staff came together to start clearing the borders of the land so that grow-beds could be constructed. Weekly gardening days were arranged to continue land-clearing efforts and seedlings were planted in preparation for transplanting into the anticipated grow-beds. The great physical effort of clearing the land was alleviated in late November by The Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina, who kindly helped support this initiative by donating the use of their back-hoe to assist with clearing the large area of land and digging holes for fruit trees. This support was an enormous help to further the project.
Each class will have their own grow-bed, which they will be responsible for the up-keep of, creating ownership and competition between classes. Maintenance of the garden and respective class grow-beds will be incorporated into student daily chores. The combination of ownership that students have over the garden and competition between classes will motivate students and hopefully ensure the success of the project! This endeavor will not only provide students with useful knowledge but also requires them to be responsible and accountable for a project, a great life skill to practice.
In early December, a couple of fruit trees were planted, 7 of the class grow-beds were constructed and the previously potted seedlings were transplanted to the garden. Future plans include planting many more fruits and vegetables in the garden so that healthy meals can be produced for students at the school, and increasing education and awareness amongst students about a balanced, nutritional, healthy diet.
By early December, 43 Deep Creek Primary School students, the 5 Deep Creek Primary School teachers, 10 student relatives and 14 CEI staff had contributed to the community garden.
During semester time every Tuesday at 3pm, students, teachers, parents, community members and staff from CEI are committed to assisting the primary school with the set-up and expansion of the school community garden project- you are welcome to join us!
We need your help supporting the school community garden. Can you help by donating tools, seeds or plants?
If you would like more information or are interested in donating please contact Candice Brittain at email@example.com or call 334 8552 ext. 6206.
As invasive lionfish decimate Caribbean coral reef systems, consumptive fishery demand is promoted as one of the best ways to control their populations. Recently, though, there is a new reason to find and spear the fish; the characteristic pectoral, pelvic, anal, and caudal fins of the fish are being dried and used by artisans and dilettante crafters to make jewelry pieces. A battle that before was fought with knives, forks, and frying vats is now reinforced by needle nose pliers, silver fasteners, and 24-gauge wire.
The CEI Lionfish Research and Education Program (LREP) has worked hard this fall to encourage the spread of this new lionfish jewelry trend around Eleuthera. In October they collaborated with the Eleuthera Arts and Cultural Center in putting on The Bahamas’ first-ever Lionfish Jewelry Making and Awareness Workshop. Local artists Shorlette Francis and Sterline Morley joined the Arts and Cultural Center’s Audrey Carey to supply craft materials and construction guidance to the professional artists, handicraft enthusiasts, and community members in attendance. CEI’s Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick gave an overview of the invasion of the lionfish in the Caribbean and explained why it is so important to target these gluttonous fish. The event was such a success that several local artists are now selling lionfish earrings and other jewelry in The Island School’s School Store and around the island.
With such positive outcomes from the first event, the CEI LREP team hopes to hold workshops in many more settlements around Eleuthera. During The Island School’s Parents’ Weekend the team was ready to show visiting families how to incorporate additional recycled materials, such as aluminum cans, into lionfish fin pieces. On December 2nd, the team conducted the second workshop open to the public, this one hosted at Deep Creek Middle School. Over 30 community members attended to learn about current CEI research regarding lionfish and try their hands at crafting earrings and holiday ornaments. With the growing community of lionfish jewelry producers and consumers, this new angle for controlling the invasion shows a tremendous amount of promise.