During the 5th to the 7th of March, Zakita and Micheal represented the Centre of Sustainable Development (CSD) and the wider Island School/CEI community at the annual Agribusiness Expo in New Providence. Here, they spoke about the models of food production (Permaculture and Aquaponics) currently being employed at Cape Eleuthera, as well as networking and informing visitors to the expo about the events and opportunities going on within this organization.
Many primary and high school children came by the booth, and an exciting dialogue ensued on the benefits of aquaponics and sustainable agriculture. It was inspiring to see how many of the booth-visitors knew about aquaponics in particular and wanted to know how to set up their own system for household food production.
In total, the expo visit was productive and a success and it was heartening to spread the word about the good work that the Island School-CSD-DCMS- CEI community is engaging in.
Green Castle Primary School’s teacher, Ms. Mary Thompson, brought her class of students in grades 5 & 6 for a marine invertebrate and snorkel trip at the Cape Eleuthera Institute last Tuesday. Students first discussed 4 common invertebrate phyla they might find: cnidarians, echinoderms, porifera, and mollusks. Then they headed out to snorkel off the beach! This was an exciting trip for students who examined the different invertebrates we found such as cushion sea stars, a brittle star, juvenile conch, a sea anemone, rose coral, and even a little periwinkle.
On Wednesday, Ms. Nathalie Sweeting with Wemyss Bight Primary grade 4 came for a trip to explore some of the sustainable systems on campus. Students started off reviewing the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources. Then the class headed out to various systems around campus so that they could see these concepts in action. Their first stop was the dining hall cistern to measure how much water we had at the time and to talk about water conservation. Then they headed over to the wind turbine and solar panels to discuss some of the differences between how we get our energy and where they get theirs at home. A highlight for students was the aquaponics system where sustainability teacher, Adam Dusen, caught a few Tilapia and described how the system works to produce fish and hydroponically grown plants for consumption in the dining hall. It was great to get a close-up look at the unique system. Continue reading →
Teachers and Vice Principal, Ms. Knowles, from Preston H. Albury High School came to visit during teacher’s planning week in late August. This visit served as the start to a collaboration regarding ways that CEI may support their curriculum planning with a focus on scientific research, native Bahamian resources, and small island sustainability. We hope that teachers of all subject areas, not just biology and the sciences but also math, English, art and other subjects, see a connection with the projects we have here at CEIS.Continue reading →
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.
Her current duties include grading tilapia, organizing feeding rates and schedules, collecting fry, getting involved in outreach with DCMS, setting BRUVS for turtle research, tagging and releasing turtl,es and habitat mapping. Whitney’s future goal is to leave CEI with all the knowledge and experience that she has gained, and apply it to her daily life, and to inspire others to do the same. Next summer she is planning on resuming her education at the College of The Bahamas, then moving on to attend Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada to study Marine Biology and fisheries conservation. Good luck to her in the future, and we are lucky to have her talents a work right now at CEI!
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 →