A group of biologists from Universities throughout the United States gathered to discuss the improvement of the research facilities at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI). This meeting was funded by a National Science Foundation planning grant written by PI Dr. Bill Louda (Florida Atlantic University) and Co-PIs Dr. Dave Philipp (University of Illinois), Dr. Brian Lapointe (Florida Atlantic University), and Aaron Shultz (CEI). The expert panel, along with their individual research interests, is listed below. The three day meeting started off with a tour of The Island School and CEI campus, and an excursion to some of the natural points of interest on the island.
Several group meetings were held to discuss other research stations in the region (E.g., Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Florida Keys Marine Lab, etc.), current research projects at CEI, how to diversify the research portfolio at the institute, and the infrastructure needed to meet current and future demands. The following are highlights from the discussions: the need for an ecosystem based approach to our research initiatives; the need for water quality analysis; and more lab space for visiting researchers and graduate students. Overall, it was a very productive site visit that will aid in the development of the full NSF laboratory improvement grant. CEI looks forward to collaborating with these researchers in the future.
One of BTT’s top priorities is to learn enough about the biology of bonefish, tarpon, and permit so that we can focus conservation efforts on the most important aspects of these important gamefish. Which habitats and life stages are most critical? As you know from our monthly updates, identifying juvenile habitats, migrations, and adult habitat use are constantly in our crosshairs. Only with this information in hand can we propose effective conservation strategies like habitat protections, which we have long been pursuing in the Bahamas with collaborators Cape Eleuthera Institute, Fisheries Conservation Foundation and Bahamas National Trust.
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 →
With every researcher at CEI always on the go, managing their own research projects, they hardly have time to get a feel for other projects going on at the institute. Luckily this is changing, as once a month all researchers will come together and take part in a different research project. The goal is for each CEI researcher to have a good understanding of all of the great research being done at CEI.
This past week the team assisted fellow researcher Kristal Ambrose with her beach plastic project. The team managed to survey two beaches for the long term project; Kristal aims to determine how plastic moves over time in between beaches here in South Eleuthera. The CEI team helped contribute to Kristal’s growing dataset, learning new survey methods, and getting firsthand exposure to the plastic pollution that threatens the beauty and health of the island. A good time was had by all. Stay tuned for the research team’s next adventure!
Miss Kristal Ambrose, CEI’s Marine Plastic Pollution Specialist, and Tiffany Gray, CEI’s Lead Outdoor Educator, made a visit to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students at North Eleuthera Primary to talk about Pollution and Plastics. Students had a blast learning about some of the threats to their marine resources, as well as acting out the North Pacific garbage patch! Kristal and Tiffany also had the opportunity to speak with the 2nd grade class briefly before heading out to Spanish Wells.
Spanish Wells was a successful visit as our team checked in with the 12 grade geography class to assist them with a comparative coral reef study that they will be conducting for the Bahamas General Certificate Secondary Examination, a national exam for local high schools. CEI will be continuing on with outreach efforts in North Eleuthera on Oct 17 where students from both schools will get to visit mangroves and coral reefs.
Dr. Bill Louda (PI) and Aaron Schultz, a co-PI and director of the Cape Eleuthera Institute, visited 3 marine laboratory facilities between August 13-18, 2013. The major part of this trip was a visit (Aug. 13-16) to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) on the Island of Little Cayman just south of Cuba. Following their return to Miami Florida, they then visited two labs in the Florida Keys (post to follow).
CCMI (LCRC) is built very close to the shore line on the northern side of Little Cayman. The outer reef (~ 150 – 175 yards offshore) rising out of hundreds of fathoms of water was effective in decreasing hurricane storm surge several times and it is predicted that future storms, without the influence of sea-level rise, will only push saltwater up under these structures and not into the first floor level.
The lab area occupies about one-third of the first floor of the yellow building. The rectangular 1/3 of that floor is itself divided into 3 separate labs, each about 10 x 20 feet (this is from memory, not measurements). In this way, wall and bench linear footage (space) is maximized and lab functions are segregated. This concept should roll into the plans for laboratory upgrades / building at CEI.
Thanks to Dr. Carrie Manfrino, CCMI President and Director of Research for coordinating the visit. Continue reading →
Our Gap Year crew has been very busy in their first month here at CEI with marine research, road trips, classes and community service. We’ve studied human ecology, coral reefs, mangroves and more. We analyzed sustainable aspects of our Island School/CEI community here and compared them to our home communities with the ultimate goal of designing a solution to an issue of sustainability at home.
Outside of our classes, we’ve helped out with many on-site research projects studying everything from green sea turtles to Caribbean sharks to a local favorite, queen conch. We’ve also conducted plastic surveys and helped out in our permaculture garden. Last week we explored outside our immediate community and volunteered at the Tarpum Bay Arts & Cultural center doing a landscaping project (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eleutheras-Art-and-Cultural-Centre/234550843232729). There we met the lovely director, Audrey Carey, who regaled us with stories about what life was like when she grew up in the Bahamas (very sustainable!) and showed us the local students’ and artists’ work. Continue reading →
The Island School along with Cape Eleuthera Institute and the new Center for Sustainable Development are attracting young professionals from around the world looking for post graduate level experience in the tropical marine and applied sciences as well as more teaching focused fellowships. Through the generous support of Ed Anderson and Linda Cabot, Island School parents, Georgiana (SP 11) and Noelle (SP 13), we will be able to build-out the first phase of the project that includes all the living spaces, capacity to house up to 40 graduate students. Ed Anderson shares, “With expanding resources and an ideal location, Cape Eleuthera Institute promises to be the next Woods’ Hole of the Caribbean.” Now we can properly take care of the people engine that helps support research and a range of design and build projects. In addition Anderson- Cabot Hall promises to be an ultra-green building. With state of the art lighting and passive cooling the building will be a net exporter of energy from its 10 kW solar array. A 40,000 gallon basement cistern will collect more than enough water to care for the inhabitants and an advanced waste water system will recycle and responsibly manage all discharge. We imagine that this ecologically designed building will do more than just provide comfortable living space; Cabot- Anderson Hall will inspire all who come to live and work our campus to believe that we can design for a more sustainable future.
This blog was written by the 18 incredible students visiting us from Maine.
The Island School/CEI is located in Cape Eleuthera. The campus faces the water with exotic beaches and fish-filled boat launches as a part of its grounds. Everything about the campus is energy efficient, from its compost at meals to their homemade biodiesel for the vans. The food waste is fed to the pigs on campus and the rest is composted and used for their gardens. The gardens are then used for meals creating the basis of permaculture. We’ve already become aware of the energy we waste every day and can’t wait to put our new energy efficient methods to use at home.
A big part of our experience here on Eleuthera has been conducting research through the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI). Our Camden Hills students have been split into three different research groups, led by CEI researchers: conch, bonefish (field), and another bonefish team (lab). The Oceanside-Medomak students are studying patch reefs, and the effects of their complexity on the abundance of fish. All four groups will be presenting their findings to an audience of peers, interns, researchers, graduate students, and staff next week. Continue reading →
This week we said ‘bon voyage’ to an amazing group of students, staff and crew from Seatrek Fathoms. They graced us with their presence for 10 days of science, fun, research, snorkeling, and much much more.
A new experience for the education team with the group staying aboard their 65ft sailing schooner named the Avalon. Each day the group made it to land and delved into our program. The focus of this trip was for the students to really get an idea of how a remote field station functions, all the differing aspects of research at CEI and the reality of setting reachable research goals.
We began our trip with a day sharking out with Owen and his team. It was quite the day long-lining with both the Dave & Di and the Avalon, giving all the students an opportunity to be first hand part on the long-lining crew, switching out with the observers stationed on the Avalon. The day was successful, hooking one Reef Shark, all the students were able to see how shark research works out in the field, and it was a great day had by all. Continue reading →