New Shark Resistant Netting on CEI’s Aquaculture Cage

This fall the Cape Eleuthera Institute installed a new shark-resistant netting called PREDATOR-X on CEI’s off-shore aquaculture cage. The netting was developed in partnership with NET Systems, Inc., and DSM Dyneema. This video provides an inside look at the research and development process, as well as the installation.

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Mask and Snorkel Donation

This fall, Cape Eleuthera Institute’s conch research intern from the College of the Bahamas, Tarran Simms, facilitated the donation of 500 masks & snorkels from Dolphin Cay at Atlantis resort in Nassau to Ron Knight, Island School Director of SCUBA operations and waterfront manager. Knight in turn, divided the bulk of the snorkel gear among every 4th, 5th, and 6th grader between Tarpum Bay & Deep Creek, where the excited students and teachers accepted appreciatively. Knight also intends to distribute the remaining gear to student of DCMS in Deep Creek, Eleuthera.

Gap Program Update #2: Evolution of a CEI Intern

If evolution is a transformative process, then who’s to say we aren’t evolving everyday?

As our third week here at CEI comes to a close, all of the gap year interns are beginning to naturally expand into our own place here. We all have developed and begun to find our place in the community at the Cape Eleuthera Institute; some of these changes we discover together, and some we can only find on our own.

This week we all brainstormed on ideas for our Independent Student Project, or ISP, which is the research or outreach project that we want to dedicate our time here to. Gap interns Sarah and Lulu are joining the Shark Team, I am joining the Lionfish team, Shaquel is focusing on gathering data on local knowledge of CEI projects, and Jon and Cole are developing an independent project studying filter feeders. The unfolding of each of our interests is becoming more apparent!

As we make these decisions, we are having plenty of fun in the meantime. SCUBA! This week we are working on Advanced Open Water Scuba, which involves a boat dive, deep dive, night dive, naturalist dive, and navigation dive. Here’s a drawing I did of the scuba transformation!

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Gap Year Program Update #1

Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Meyer, and I’m one of six students participating in the Spring 2012 Gap Year Program. We’re nearing the start of our third week here, but it seems like we’ve been here much longer than that because we’ve been so busy!

So far, we’ve been spending a lot of time being exposed to many of the research groups at CEI, such as the aquaponics, aquaculture, patch reef, lionfish, and shark teams. It’s nice to have the ability to “scope out” the different aspects of each group before we decide which one interests us most; after we pick a team, we will choose a mentor who will help us with our Independent Student Project that we’ll complete by the end of our semester. Continue reading

More Baby Fish Have Arrived!

On Friday, January 27th half a million eggs arrived from Miami, Florida! They were placed in an incubation tank, where they hatched early Saturday morning. To the naked eye they looked like pieces of rosemary floating in the water. But under the microscope you could see the egg sack that was encased around the head and the tail was sticking out. The bottom of the tank was siphoned in order to get rid of the unhatched eggs and dead larvae. This is very important because if they were left in the tank bacteria can grow, which can kill the larvae. After determining how many larvae were alive, they were then transferred into six larval rearing tanks. They will obtain their food from their egg sack for three days. Cobia develop after they hatch, which means their mouths are very small and in turn can only eat rotifers for the first couple of weeks. They will eat enriched rotifers for about three weeks and then move onto eating artemia for another 45 days. Once they start growing more we will be able to wean them onto dry food and then eventually bring them out to the offshore cage that is fitted with shark resistant netting that was donated by DSM Dyneema!

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Update from CEI’s Flats Ecology Research

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So everyone has heard of climate change/global warming- increased anthropogenic CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere shifts annual global climate, which then leads to other catastrophic events within the Earth’s ecosphere. An increase in oceanic temperature and acidity is among the most pressing and readily apparent effects of climate change. Past research has shown fish of tropical reefs to be particularly sensitive to changes in ocean temperature and pH. In the flats department, we aim to determine whether common teleost occupants of tropical mangroves exhibit a similar sensitivity to such changes. Using bonefish (Albula spp.), checkered puffers (Sphoeroides tetudineus), juvenile yellowfin mojarra (Gerres cinereus), and juvenile yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), we aim to determine the Critical maximum and minimum temperature and pH at which each species looses equilibrium (“goes belly up”). Continue reading

CEI at the Abaco Science Alliance Conference

Last week members of the Cape Eleuthera Institute attended the 5th Abaco Science Alliance Conference. Every two years Friends of the Environment host this conference that showcases research being done on the areas of natural history and environmental science of Abaco and The Bahamas. This two day event was held in Marsh Harbour and addressed a wide range of subjects, from cave formations to migrating birds.

CEI’s aquaculture manager, Marie Tarnowski, presented on the development of the Sustainable Aquaculture Program at CEI and Annabelle Brooks, Research Manager at CEI, presented findings on lemon shark abundances in mangrove creeks around South Eleuthera. CEI’s Flats manager, Liane Nowell, presented a poster that focused on bonefish handling practices and the bonefish tagging program while Josh Shultz, Aquaponics manager at CEI, presented a poster that focused on developing aquaponics in The Bahamas. This was the first time anyone from the Cape Eleuthera Institute had presented at the Abaco Science Alliance. All attendees from CEI had a great time not only learning about other facets of research in The Bahamas, but also sharing our own novel research and making great connections. Representatives from CEI look forward to attending future Abaco Science Alliance Conferences.

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The SeaStation Has a Brand New Net!

After a year and a half of trial and error CEI’s aquaculture cage has been refitted with shark resistant netting! Last Wednesday the aquaculture team, along with help from the majority of CEI, successfully installed this newly developed netting. Sharks biting holes in the netting has been the greatest hurdle that the aquaculture program has come across while trying to demonstrate the feasibility of aquaculture in The Bahamas. Previous growouts have failed due to escapements through holes that sharks had bit in the netting. The new netting was donated by the life materials company, DSM and the net manufacturing company, Net Systems. This is the first time this type of netting has ever been used on a SeaStation and the first test run will begin in February when 5,000 cobia will be stocked in the offshore pen. This will be the third time fish have been stocked in the offshore cage and fingers crossed, the first time the netting will be shark resistant.

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CEI November Shark Expedition

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The Geronimo, an experiential education vessel operated by St. George’s School from Newport, Rhode Island, under the direction of Captain Stephen Connett, conducted shark research cruises from the early 1970′s through to the mid 1990′s throughout the western Atlantic. From autumn 1979 through to spring 1981, regular seasonal surveys were conducted in Bahamian waters focusing on a shallow bank known as “the bridge” that connects the southern tip of Eleuthera to the northern tip of Cat Island. The data resulting from these surveys, representing a snapshot of Bahamian shark abundance from over 30 years ago, have never been rigorously analyzed or published. Edd Brooks, manager of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at CEI, is collaborating with Stephen Connett and Jeff Stein (University of Illinois) to recreate these surveys over the next two years, with the goal of identifying potential shifts in the diversity, abundance and demographic population structure of sharks in the North East Exuma Sound over the last 30 years. The first field season took place earlier this month and Edd, Jeff, and Stephen successfully completed surveys of the bridge with the assistance of two Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholars, Ann Marie Carroll and Brandon Jennings, Stephanie Liss (former CEI shark program intern and graduate student at University of Illinois) and Christopher Koch. Christopher, an experienced captain and diver, has supported the Shark Research and Conservation Program since his daughters, Hanna and Melanie, studied at The Island School in Fall 2006 and Fall 2008, and offered to return to Eleuthera once again to help on this exciting expedition. Just goes to show that IS alumni aren’t the only ones that can come back to The Island School and CEI–parents can, too!

“Conference Caffeine”

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For those of us in the professional workplace, we know all too well that our day-to-day can get overwhelming, disheartening and sometimes banal. Even scientists, as exciting as our research can be, feel this too. At CEI, there is so much going that on that it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and take for granted this amazing place where we live and the truly interesting work we do. Long hours of fieldwork, scrubbing tanks, struggling through statistical analysis can sometimes can leave asking, “what is this all for?” To alleviate this, we look for “pick me ups”, which for many comes in the form of coffee, or, for the Brits among us, a cupp’a PG Tips. I find that taking a plunge into the ocean or a run around the loop also gets the job done. But these practices are…well, just not sustainable! The trick, I’ve discovered, to really get energized and motivated – I mean really excited about what you’re doing, your job, your day to day – is to attend a conference! Conferences bring like-minded people together to discuss similar topics of interest. They inform, spark dialogue, entice collaboration and get people enthusiastic about their work. I like to call this getting your “conference caffeine.” Continue reading