The past two days have been primarily taken up with learning about and surveying green sea turtles in the local sounds and creeks. We began yesterday with a mini-class taught by Lucie, a researcher at CEI completing a baseline survey on turtle populations in South Eleuthera. We learned that there are 5 different species in the area–Green, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Hawksbill–though some are more abundant than others. All of the species are protected under international treaties, though very little is known about their populations, migratory habits, etc.
After learning about the turtles and how Lucie conducts her studies, we headed out to Jack’s Bay to do our first survey. We hiked in to the beach and got picked up to go out to the seagrass beds where the turtles usually hang out. Spotting turtles requires two people to stand on the bow deck of the boat and look in the seagrass for turtles. It is not an easy job, but once we all saw one turtle, it was much easier to spot them. We saw a few from the boat (and we were all really excited!), but when we got in to snorkel with them, they had all disappeared! We were a little bummed to miss swimming with the turtles, but Lucie assured us that the next day would be even better at Half Sound.
Today (Tuesday), we woke up and completed a run-swim for our morning exercise. Continue reading
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
Since its creation just over one year ago, the Lionfish Research and Education Program (LREP) at CEI has strived to become a hub for lionfish work in the Caribbean. Recently, LREP has taken some exciting steps toward reaching this status! Just last week, CEI hosted three producers and videographers from ZED (www.zed.fr), a major French documentary company that is working on gathering footage for an upcoming TV series featuring invasive lionfish. Specifically, the documentary team was interested in learning about Bahamian lionfish research and management initiatives. Luckily, visiting scientist, and partner of LREP, Nicola Smith was able to come over from Nassau to support the week’s activities and be featured in the film! Nicola is the lead coordinator for the Bahamian-wide lionfish research project that operates under the Bahamian Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and partners with CEI.
ZED producer, Jerome Segur, sound engineer, Olivier Pioda, and underwater videographer (and former member of Jacque Cousteau’s prestigious dive team!) Didier Noirot, joined Nicola and LREP researchers in the field to get a closer look at lionfish and to better understand the project’s research objectives. Continue reading