Last month, CEI conducted its first tilapia harvest since March 2013. This exciting process began on Sunday morning when 160 tilapia were selected for harvest for an Island School parent’s weekend meal and a fundraising event in Nassau. All of the fish were within the ideal harvest size range and were selected from our current stock of over 3000 fish. They were then placed in a holding tank and were not fed over the next 48 hours to clear their digestive tracts of food and waste, thus lending to a more sterile process. On Tuesday morning, the process began when the fish were removed from their tank and humanely euthanized by being netted into an ice water slurry. These fish were then transported to the kitchen and were filleted by a team of researchers and kitchen staff. Continue reading
Whitney Knowles is a sophomore at The College of The Bahamas, majoring in Small Island Sustainability with a focus in Marine Science. Initially, Whitney worked at CEI as an Aquaculture and Aquaponics intern, followed by a stint as an Educational Programs Apprentice from February to August, but now she has taken on the role of Aquaculture and Turtles Research Apprentice.
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!
This eyewitness account was written by a student in the University School-Hathaway Brown Program:
Before getting started, allow me to explain one reason why the Island School was such an eye-opening, incredible experience for my group and me. We are from Cleveland. Between the incessant snow and cloudy days, it seems that conservation is the last thing on our minds. So when our science research-based school club (the Anderson Scholars) of five boys, in addition to five girls (also interested in science research) from our all-girls sister school Hathaway Brown, received the notice that we would be spending a week in the beautiful, sunny Bahamas, we didn’t know what to expect.
The Island School is its own microcosm of shape shifting individuals. From the engaging curriculum, an individual becomes a motivated student. From the hands-on outdoor activities, one becomes a teammate. From the encouragement of others, one transforms into a leader. While most schools are trying to discover a way to make their curriculum applicable to the outside world, the Island School has already developed several tried and true methods to make it a precedent for said schools. The school is a place where the words “when will I ever use this outside of class?” will never be uttered from a student’s lips. The students are warm, outgoing, and most importantly, passionate; they are passionate about school, conservation, and lifting each other up. The science researchers are driven, and extremely helpful. Continue reading
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.
The aquaponics system at CEI produces enough lettuce to feed our community twice a day, seven days a week. The fish production is increasing in the next year, and provides one meal a week of fresh tilapia. Right now the system is good, but does have a few minor opportunities for improvement. One issue we are facing is an over-abundance of solid waste settling out at the bottom of our deep water hydroponic beds. One way to solve this “problem” is to install additional filters which would have to be purchased, shipped, installed, and run on electricity. The filters would use more fresh water to clean, and require more time and maintenance. This isn’t the ideal solution when we are trying to reduce imports, simplify operations, maintain affordability, and conserve water.
We instead looked for a permaculture way of solving the solid waste issue, and found one!Last Friday a shipment arrived at Governors Harbor Airport of three small boxes from a company in Florida called Miami-Aquaculture Inc. Inside the three boxes were approximately 2,000 post-larval giant freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) which can grow to twelve inches in length in just one year. Continue reading
The Aquaponics research team at The Cape Eleuthera Institute has successfully hatched nearly two thousand tilapia eggs. Eggs were removed from the mouths of the female brood stock and transferred to a larval rearing device known as a McDonald Jar where they were maintained at a water temperature of 27°C. Tilapia are mouth brooders; upon fertilization of eggs the female scoops all of the eggs into her mouth and incubates them for 3-5 days. After spending four days in the McDonald Jar, the eggs had a near 100% successful hatch rate and transformed into fry. They have officially been introduced into the aquaponics system and are doing FANTASTIC!
Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Kristal Ambrose embarked on her epic journey to of plastic research, leaving on April 24th.. From Nassau, Bahamas to Texas, USA; from Tokyo, Japan to Guam; and finally, on to Majuro, Marshall Islands, the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of exploration, opportunity, and learning for Ambrose, CEI’s Aquaponics Intern and researcher dedicated to finding solutions to plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
“Most of what we eat, drink or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic—a material designed to last forever yet used for products that we use for as little as thirty seconds then throw away,” describes Ambrose on her blog. “Plastic creates toxic pollution at every stage of its existence: manufacture, use, and disposal. This is a material that the Earth cannot digest. Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, including the small amount that has been incinerated and has become toxic particulate matter. In the environment, plastic breaks down into small particles that release toxic chemicals into the environment. These particles are ingested by wildlife on land and in the ocean, contaminating the food chain from the smallest plankton to the largest whale…This trip will serve as my formal training experience to tackle the plastic pollution and marine debris issue within my country.”
In Nassau during the days before departure, Ambrose was invited to tea at the home of His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes, Governor General of The Bahamas. Continue reading