Tag Archive | bahamas

#WorldEnvironmentDay, I AM THE CHANGE!

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Today has been an event filled day here at CEI. We held many from around the world to celebrate our love of nature and living sustainable. People from all over the world such as Africa, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and Bahamians came together in one spot to learn about how we all are connected through our love of the water.

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Celine Cousteu=au, granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau.

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5 Gyres Co-Founder, Marcus Erikson.

We have been graced by the presence of people such as Marcus Erikson and Anna Cummins, Co-founders of 5Gyres. The ever majestic Celine Cousteau, guests from United Nations Environment Programme UNEP, Bahamas Plastic Movement, and Jack Johnson.

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UNEP Director, Naysán Sahba (Left) and new UN Ambassador of Goodwill, Jack Johnson (Right). Image courtesy of @UNEP.

Yes…THE Jack Johnson. And he was officially signed in as the UN Ambassador of Goodwill. How awesome is that? Something as powerful as this, captured right here in Cape.

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Going to events around the world, to bring back opportunities for young Bahamians-Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald

The Minister of Education of Science and Technology, the Honourable Jerome Fitzgerald was here as well delivering a powerful message in spreading the opportunities that other countries and private institutions have with their students to Bahamians. I was touched by his words in going out to other places, meeting new individuals, and networking to bring back knowledge for us, the people.

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Kristal Ambrose, founder of BPM. Image courtesy of BPM.

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Say it with me “I AM THE CHANGE!”-Kristal Ambrose 2015

Another familiar face today, Kristal Ambrose. She is the founder of BPM, Bahamas Plastic Movement where her goal is to rid The Bahamas of single use plastics by 2020. She gathers her inspiration from working at Atlantis on Paradise Island in Nassau, New Providence. Here she worked with the Turtle Sanctuary. Over a period of time during her stay there, she noticed that one of the turtles would keep to themselves and barely ate. Upon calling the vet to come in and check to see what was the matter, it was discovered that there was a blockage. come to find out, it was plastic. She remembers vividly having to hold the front flippers of the turtle, hearing it cry in agony as they would pull plastic from it rectum.

From then on, she was on a mission to figure out where this plastic came from and how WE can combat it.

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Alexio Brown (familiar name yet?) spoke on behalf of future Bahamian researchers to come during the Ribbon Cutting of the new graduate studies building. He recalls fondly of his time here at Island School as a student, becoming and intern, and now a research assistant at CEI. He strengthens the need for this building for Bahamians to come home to conduct their research in their own backyard.

There was even a fun beach clean up for everyone to join in.

It is happening, slowly but surely, the growing awareness that WE ARE THE CHANGE.


Please follow these wonderful people on their respective platforms on their personal Websites, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

5 Gyres

Bahamas Plastic Movement

Celine Cousteau

UNEP

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#ReduceReuseRecycle: Initiative Begins at Home

Image courtesy of Nikki Elliot from DCMS.

Several weeks ago, the Deep Creek Middle School Early Act and Eco Club teamed up with Preston Albury High School‘s newly formed Eco-club to sort plastics 1, 2, and 5. This is the first initiative within South Eleuthera to implement a larger scale recycle center. The plastics will be shipped to Nassau, New Providence, then shipped internationally. The idea is to begin more of these stations throughout the island to increase awareness of plastic consumption, dangers, and practices.
Plastics can be separated into several categories. Each category can be found on the tag or at the bottom of the bottle. Here is an example:
It wasn’t the prettiest job sorting plastic bottles, food containers, and removing bottle caps from a few hundred bottles, but we made it fun with a competition between 3 groups to see who could sort the most! Who knew there were so many types of recycle numbers, what they can be used for, and the steps needed to separate. Such as taking the covers off, the plastic ring portion, and removing and paper labels.
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Image courtesy of Luanettee’ Colebrooke.

All plastics will be sent to Cans for Kids in Nassau and then sent to the States for recycling. Cans for Kids is a Bahamian non profit that recycles cans, and now plastics as well, to raise money for schools and youth organizations. This event was an effort to spruce up the recycle center at the South Eleuthera Emergency Partners, SEEP, in Tarpum Bay to implement a One Eleuthera grant funded recycle program in schools in South Eleuthera in the next few months.

Image courtesy of Nikki Elliot from DCMS.

We had 22 students from both schools and 9 adults from One Eleuthera, Cape Eleuthera Institute, Deep Creek Middle School, Rotaract Club of Eleuthera, and the Rotary Club of Eleuthera.

Leaders from Preston Albury High School, Cape Eleuthera Institute, Rotaract Club of Eleuthera, and Deep Creek Middle School come together and join the young scholars in their initiative to encourage environmental awareness within their community,

Special thanks to Tiffany Gray, Environmental Educator & Outreach Coordinator for the Cape Eleleuthera Institute for allowing me the chance to partake in such a fun activity.

#Sustainablefoodandjewlery: Providing a New Economic Need from an Invasive Foe

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Diving in the Acropora (staghorn) coral nursery. The bits grown here will be used on damaged patch reefs.

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of adventure. With there being several different programs here, everyone is busy with either doing field work, data entry, or assisting each other. There is always something to find to do here. The other day, I had gone out to the coral nursery of Acropora (staghorn) and cleared my scuba diving check. Whoot! One step closer to Advance 😀

The staff here are heavily in community outreach. They provide information sessions and programs for the surrounding areas of the research conducted here, what it hopes to achieve, how it affects them directly, and dispel many local myths. In addition, they are beginning to hold monthly meetings for the Bahamian staff so that they are informed and can talk to others who have questions about what exactly is going on the site. One of the more fascinating presentations that I have been to is the one on lionfish. I wrote down several points that I found interesting:

General map to where documented sightings of lionfish in the Atlantic region. Photo from Discover: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/science-sushi/2013/03/22/new-girl-fishes-for-laughs-catches-terrible-episode/

  1. Lionfish are originally from the Indo-Pacific (That’s the Indonesia region). There are many myths as to how they were brought over such as from the balas of a ship. However, it is more believed that they arrived through the exotic aquarium trade. They are brightly coloured and slow to move, which make them ideal for aquariums. Even though this is true, they are generalists predators in nature in what they eat. Owners began to release them into their backyards or oceans (hoping nature takes its course) when they realized that these creatures were literally eating every fish in their tank that could fit into their mouths.
  2. Within their home range, there are several organisms that have evolved to eat these fish. For example frogfish.  In this part of the world, large predatory fish have not adapted to eating these creatures but we as humans can.

    Indopacific area. Photo from Lionfish Hunting: http://lionfish.co/lionfish-faq/

  3. They are carnivorous and habitat generalists. That is, they can live on the majority of environmental structures from seagrass, mangroves, coral reefs, artificial reefs, and depths up to 1000 ft! Their food source is ANYTHING that can fit into their mouths that protrudes out in a sucking motion. Interestingly, when their in insufficient for them to eat they either migrate to another area and/or resort to cannibalism (eat their own species). Their stomach can expand to up to 30 times the original size.

    Contents of a lionfish’s stomach. Stomach can stretch to 30 times its original size. The only thing that would stop a lionfish from eating is the size of its mouth. Photo from Lionfish Hunting: http://lionfish.co/cleaning-and-preparing-lionfish-to-eat/

  4. With an abundance of food, little to no predation, and ample space, their reproductive systems have changed to fit the environment. Females produce an egg sac with up to 20,000 eggs within it. In the Indo-Pacific, they tend to mate ONCE per year due to the environment and predatory pressures there. In this neck of the woods they can mate EVERY 4 DAYS!! That’s roughly 2 MILLION eggs per fish!
  5. They are VENOMOUS NOT POISONOUS. What does that mean? It means that they have  venom, similar to a snake and its fangs or a scorpion and its tail, in their spines. JUST THE SPINES have venom. Poison is an attribute given to organisms or subject that  if ingested can cause mild to severe health issues. For example, some amazon tree frogs or snails. So basically you can eat venomous animals!The lionfish has 18 venomous spines that are harmful. The sting is much like a bee sting, on one has died from a lionfish sting. To treat a sting soak area in hot water.   You can serve up the meat anyway you want. I prefer them deep fried 🙂 But whole baked jerk lionfish is also delicious!

13 dorsal, 2 pelvic, and 3 anal venomous spines for a total of 18. The other fins are safe to snip off and use in jewelry. Photo from Google Images.

Presentations like these are given not only to the visiting groups but also to the local community. This is important to spread awareness and break myths because the lionfish are here to stay. We can never get rid of them all (remember they can have up to 2MILLION eggs per year). It is interesting since we as humans have a tendency to overeat or overhunt something into extinction. All we can do is create a new form of economic value that people can use to create extra income. This is where workshops come into play within the surrounding community and eventually, out into the general Bahamas.

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CEI encourages local fishermen to take extra care when spearing. Proper tools for those who wish to pursue this new endeavor of lionfishing are: 3 prong spear to prevent the fish from sliding down onto the fisherman, thick gloves that the spines will not pierce through, equipment to despine and fillet the fish, and a thermos with hot water to pour onto any spot that may get pricked..

LREP Manager Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick helps students plan the construction of holiday ornaments out of lionfish fins.

Dr. Jocelyn instucting how to decorate lionfish fins. Photo taken from blog.ceibahamas.org

There have been jewelry workshops as well for the local community. Here, CEI create an outreach program to encourage a new form of income that is growing in popularity: lionfish jewelry. You can see the work on their blog. To prepare the fins the lionfish must be despined first of all spines. Once this is completed, the spines can be let air dried and baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take them out and let cool. The remainder fins (dorsal, caudal, anal fins) that are on the fish can be removed, and set out to dry. When that is completed, you can decorate and make whatever you want 🙂

Rocking my lionfish earrings!

Have you every tried lionfish? What does it taste like to you? Would you try it now knowing that it is safe to eat once prepared properly? Let me know below in the comments.


For more details and information on lionfish, please look to these sources: CEI blog, and CEI website.

The Wind’s a Blowin’!!

Full Moon tonight. Beautiful breeze out here at the station.

Full Moon tonight. Beautiful breeze out here at the station.

The second group had reached safely yesterday. Last week, group 1 had gone out on the boat to Pigeon Cay and had the geology discussion on how the islands form based on wind and sea erosion. Because of the high wind speeds today plans changed and there was a botany walk around the site.

Afterwards, we all glammed up and went to Church to worship with Doc’s friends and family. The first Sunday of the year is extremely important to Bahamian culture. It signifies a new beginning, and it is a time to be thankful to see another year healthy and alive. Despite the troubles 2014 had, a new year means a new start in life.

Walking back from a wonderful service :D

Walking back from a wonderful service 😀

The Church that we attend when we are down here is Big Pond/Queen’s Highway Pentecostal Church. During the first Sunday of the new year, all of the Pentecostal churches come together and have combined service.

On the road again. Cant wait to get on the road again.

On the road again. Cant wait to get on the road again.

The weather was against us today once again and we headed out to Money Point to flip rocks and look at various invertebrates. Afterwards, we went to Uncle Charlie’s Blue Hole which is a fresh water inland blue hole to rinse out tired, sunburned bodies 🙂

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The final activity was a goniolithon lab. Goniolithon is a type of calcareous algae that many forms of life hang about in till it matures enough to wonder into another area for development.

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Life is so good!

 

Waterlogged and Sunburned

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Week 1 Group photo!!

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: THE BUS WILL BE ARRIVING BY NOON ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 4TH IN FORTWAYNE. WHEN THE BUS GETS CLOSER TO FORT WAYNE, YOU WILL MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO PICK UP YOUR PERSON.

Here are our adventurers for the last few days 🙂


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Today we broke off into three groups once again today: two for boat and one for birding (Dr. Joe).

Birding crew went North to BAMSI, Mennonite Farm, and two other places (slipped my memory).

The boat crew split into two groups and traveled to four sites at their leisure.

Three Sisters: A set of patch

Rat Cay

Saddleback: Its a small Cay in the area that from a far, looks like a saddle due to the land formations.

Turtle Reef: Can you guess how it got its name.

Dave’s Patch Reef for researchers before heading in for the night.


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Today was a land and sea day. By that I mean that we were on land but went out into the water from the shore to visit a few of the sites. and of course, the birders…they are always birding!!

Mennonite Farm: The Mennonites came to Andros several years ago to spread their message to the community. Although the faith has not caught off as one would like, they provide a major aid to the island. They provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the community from their garden that they have nurtured into a nutrient rich environment. They have crushed the limestone and added nutrients to it by planting vegetables like legumes and tomatoes. To create more ‘soil’ they gather thalassia (a type of sea grass) from the shore after a large storm and add it to their gardens to eventually break down and decay.

Coconut Grove: A high energy area where the coral is roughly 100 feet or so from the shore. The Barrier reef is along that end as well.

Conch Sound Blue Hole: Lunch


Hope you enjoy!

 

Oh, The Places You Can Go…on Andros :)

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These past two days have been full of adventure between the groups. I will break it down between the two dates.


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On this day, we separated into three groups. One group was to remain back at the station and have a boat day with Doc, a group was to go birding with Dr. Joe and the final group went down south to Cargo Creek with Dr. Leo to head west into the Bahamas National Trust Park.

Group 1: Boat day

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Stanyard Wreck: Many years ago a boat was coming in with supplies. Along the way it shipwrecked along the shallow waters. Since then, it has not been removed and has flourished into a new reef for many organisms.

String’s Octect: Located as a new research site for researchers and students, this location is a labyrinth of coral.

Cousteau’s Blue Hole: Named after the famous diver, Jacques Cousteau.

 

Group 2: Birding

Group 3: BNT National Park

The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is a Non-governmental organization (NGO) that is in charge of creating and maintaining national land and sea parks throughout The Bahamas. Their duty is to find areas that are at high risk

 


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Today we broke off again into several groups. Some stayed at the station for canoeing and research, a birding group and then a land day trip that includes a trip to the local Androsian factory.

Group 1: Boat day and research.

Several of the students stayed behind that are conducting research here in Andros.

Group 2: Birding

There will always be birds -.-

Group 3: Land Day

Androsia

Fresh Creek

Summerset Beach: Lunch

Church’s Blue Hole

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Last but not least a wonderful and long time friend of Doc and Dr. Joe, a Bahamian Legend, Mrs. Annie Colebrooke. She is known throughout The Bahamas for her one of a kind, strawbasket making skills. Many try to replicate her work but fall short to her greatness. Here, we used the leaves of the short top palm trees around the island like Silver top and Five Fingers, let them dry in the sun, the soak them in water to create elaborate patterns and works of art that is unique to each person regardless if the styles are different.

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Hope you enjoy 🙂 What do you think about what the kids are learning? They are a great group of students from both the Leurs High School and University of Saint Francis and always looking to learn. They are always out in the water or wondering around the community.

 

Praise and Worship: An Experience to Remember

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We all woke up to a beautiful melody song by Doc, our natural alarm clock. Each morning, he acts as our alarm for 0730 or so to let us know its time to get up and have breakfast. The pictures below are of what we see every morning on the beach front from our cabins.

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Lodge where we have classroom, dining hall, and lounge area.

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Having breakfast

Within The Bahamas, there is no separation of church and state. There are prayers within the schools and at every government meeting for the wellbeing of the country. It is a huge part of who we are. Because of the type of school Saint Francis is, Doc and other leaders take this time to bring students and visitors to the local community church: where he calls home with his family and friends.

It is a experience that many say is the best memory they have in coming to The Bahamas. Bahamians leave their faith on their ‘sleeve.’ They are very open about their faith and will opening say ‘I will pray for you’ whether you believe or not because it is our culture and heritage. There are no natives as there are in the states (Native Americans, Indians, etc.). The entire population if not most of it are decedents of freed slaves and Seminole Indians that migrated to North Andros from Florida to escape prosecution.

After breakfast, the group changed into their church garb and we made our way down the road to the Presbyterian church that Saint Francis frequents whenever we come down.

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After church, we gathered our items and headed out to the boat once lunch was done. The two places we visited were South Pass and Dave’s Patch Reef. These are both study sites and the later was studied for two Master students: Ashley Meehan and Luanettee’ Colebrooke (me!). We have also been published in this year’s Alumni Magazine in regards to our research.

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Here are a few videos on Dave’s Patch from one of our students: Danni.

We ended the night with a bird lecture by Dr. Joe and a group heading out to go birding.

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