The idea of a Gap Year is to take a step back to view the big picture. To take a step back to look at where you’ve come from, where you’ve gone and see where you’d like to go. To take a step back so you can take the right steps forward.
The program here came to an end last week, culminating in the students Demonstration of Learning and Graduation ceremony. Over the past nine weeks Eryn, Ryan and Jordan have made profound change in their own lives and of those surrounding them.
All of the things that were accomplished by these amazing individuals are difficult to quantify with words, however a list of all the things we delved into over the program might suffice:
Taking marine ecology classes
Teaching an environmental issue class of their own
Taking a human ecology class
Community service projects
Down Island camping trip, experiencing a sense of place on Eleuthera
Community outreach at the Deep Creek Middle School
Conducting the Fall 2013 shallow water conch surveys
Adventuring on 5 day Kayak expedition
Being part of a research team as an intern for three weeks
Getting both Open Water and Advanced Scuba certified
Presenting their learning to the wider community
They have each proved themselves in both a personal and professional setting, being part of the community family and involved with the research facility. During the student’s demonstration of learning it was clear how much they are taking from the program. The diverse learnings of each student are a testament to each of their personal challenges and growth.
We would like to wish the Gap Year Team of Fall 2013 all the luck in the world as they move onto other endeavors and experiences, we hope you take what you learned here and build upon it. You are the game changers.
If you’re interested in joining the Gap Year Team of Spring 2014 or learning more about the Gap Year program in general, you can find out more on our website; http://www.ceibahamas.org/gap-year.aspx.
In association with Microwave Telemetry, Inc. and the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, Edd Brooks and CEI’s Shark Research and Conservation program have discovered new findings while studying the migratory behaviors of ocean whitetip sharks that can help shape conservation strategies. Some sharks spend extended time periods in the protected waters of The Bahamas yet roam long distances when they leave. For the full article, read below or click here.
As the nations of the world prepare to vote on measures to restrict international trade in endangered sharks in early March, a team of researchers has found that one of these species – the oceanic whitetip shark – regularly crosses international boundaries. Efforts by individual nations to protect this declining apex predator within their own maritime borders may therefore need to be nested within broader international conservation measures.
The research team, which included researchers from Microwave Telemetry, Inc., the Cape Eleuthera Institute, and the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, attached pop-up satellite archival tags to one male and 10 female mature oceanic whitetip sharks off Cat Island in The Bahamas in May 2011, and monitored the sharks for varying intervals up to 245 days. The tags recorded depth, temperature, and location for pre-programmed periods of time. At the end of the time period, the tags self-detached from the sharks, and reported the data to orbiting satellites. Their findings, published online today in the journal PLOS ONE, show that some of these sharks roamed nearly 2,000 kilometers from the spot where they were caught, but all individuals returned to The Bahamas within a few months.
“While the oceanic whitetip shark is one of the most severely overexploited shark species, it is also among the least studied because Continue reading →
Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) partners with One Eleuthera and Out Island Eco Company to providealternative disposable products to Styrofoam, on the Island of Eleuthera.
The Island School and CEI’s journey to becoming a zero-waste campus while extending the concepts of this model to our neighbors on the island of Eleuthera has taken patience, but we are now excited to announce we are one step farther.
This particular initiative began in 2010 as CEI outreach collaborated with the Deep Creek Homecoming Association at its annual homecoming festival “Conch Fest” using the tagline “da Creek gone green”. CEI worked diligently with the food vendors to source products that promoted sustainability and were a viable alternative to using Styrofoam. The venture was particularly challenging, as sourcing the right company to provide the products proved difficult. The import duty on Styrofoam-alternative products was 45%, which made using these replacing Styrofoam an unattractive and expensive option for the average resident. Through generous sponsorship CEI provided the products to the vendors, which drastically reduced the cost of going green.
Extensive research and communication with wholesalers of these products led CEI to connect with Out Island Eco Company (OIEC), formerly affiliated with BioShell Bahamas, a non-profit company located on the island of Abaco and led by Ms. Juliette Deal. As this partnership evolves, OIEC has successfully launched an educational and outreach model in Abaco and has worked diligently with the Bahamas Government to reduce import taxes on these ecologically friendlier items.
In 2012, One Eleuthera (OE) joined the cause and partnered with CEI and OIEC Continue reading →
When I asked around the copious newcomers that arrived at Cape Eleuthera Institute in the past week or so, if they could describe their experience so far, they responded ultimately with; surreal, funky fresh, refreshing, really salty, filled with lots of lettuce, and extremely informative. Personally, I would not object to any of those, but due to lack of time, as I am a gap year student here at The Cape Eleuthera Institute, and have to finish my prerequisites for SCUBA training, I am only going to focus on the week being “surreal, informative, and refreshing.”
Along with four other gappers (for the sake of an easier flow to this blog post, and a more real description of our time here, I am going to refer to a gap year student as a “gapper”, what everyone else has come to call us), we arrived to the sunny south side of the island Eleuthera, and it immediately seemed as if the luminous sun hovering the enticing, crystal, teal waters sucked out the oxygen from the moment, where we were all amazed Continue reading →
We circled up at noon; I was moved to tell your children in the more intimate moment of our small circle how proud I am of the good work that has been accomplished. Yesterday after the research presentations we gathered in Hallig House to listen to key note speakers share impressions. Eric Carey, Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust, is big in stature and huge in spirit and brutally honest; he was “blown away” by the work. Eric mentioned specifically the turtle project at Half Sound and the conch research as monumental and pioneering efforts that will encourage (he used the word force) the government to enact laws to protect and conserve these vital habitats and endangered species. As a boy growing up in Tarpum Bay he confirmed the story retold by the research team, ” when I was young we would go to Sandy Cay and load our boat with 100s of conch that sat dry at low tied and if you go back now you can not find a single conch.”
Next to speak, Mr. Sandy Mactaggart, Chancellor Emeritus University of Alberta. Sandy has dedicated his full and extremely successful life to save beautiful places; he realized that the work here by young scientists proved beyond a doubt that education as it continues to exist is tragically flawed. He then shared a story; I encourage you to read the link, http://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/introbook2.1/x874.html . Your children are producers of knowledge, they have stretched to ask and answer new questions and they are well tested and confident — watch out world!
Last to speak was the Honorable Kenred Dorsett, Minister of the Environment, Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Continue reading →
Two weeks ago the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) harvested over one hundred black penshells from a beautiful beach at Ten Bay, located near Palmetto Point. Penshells are a kind of scallop, and we aim to culture them here at CEI for a of couple reasons. As filter feeders, penshells thrive in water with higher nutrients, using the nutrients to grow and as a result clean the surrounding water. Currently, we have our collected penshells in two separate groups: one group in the wet lab in a flow through tank, and another group in a small cage about 100m off the beach where our main pump intake is. In the lab, we feed the penshells concentrated microalgae, whereas the group out in the ocean does not get fed. We are monitoring both groups daily, by recording temperature, dissolved oxygen and salinity.
Once both groups are acclimated and showing good growth rates, we are going to attempt to breed them and raise penshells into maturity. We plan on putting the resulting stock in the mangrove Continue reading →
Here in South Eleuthera, the past couple weeks have been somewhat of a blur. Whether the blame falls upon camping trips, scuba diving or research, there is no doubt that we have been fully engaged in life on the island. Last weekend, the interns organized a small camping trip to Surfer’s Beach. So we started bussin’ it down the island, making any of the necessary stops to make it a proper camping experience. After sharing stories and laughs, with the fire simmering down, we all headed to bed ready for a fun-filled day of aquatic activities. The last minute decision to camp was not regretted by anyone.
With drowsy eyes and with a trailing stench of campfire, we rolled back to campus ready to take on a couple days of learning in the field with our respective research groups. We soon realized that our recent camping trip was only a pre-game for our exclusive DIT (Down Island Trip) for the gaps and our leader, Scotty.
Last week the Bahamas National Trust hosted Kristal Ambrose, Aquaponics Technician at Cape Eleuthera Institute, as a public meeting guest speaker. The topic for the evening featured her internship to study plastics in the North Pacific Western Garbage Patch, an area highly concentrated with plastic debris and an environmental issue only just beginning to be studied by scientists. Kristal recounted her expedition, which sought to answer questions that explore what happens to plastics that enter the ocean, from ingestion by marine life, to absorption of harmful pollutants. The opportunity to share this experience with a Bahamian audience was especially important to Kristal, as her primary goal following this study is to find real solutions through education, research and outreach projects in her home country. After peaking the interest of one attendee at the BNT meeting, Kristal was approached to also share her experience with students at St. Andrews School where she spoke to two classes on Friday.
Kristal’s study was supported by the BNT, Bahamas Reef Environment Foundation (BREEF) and The Nature Conservancy, all of whom were represented at the meeting Continue reading →
Research classes kicked off this week for The Island School students. On Tuesday, students broke into their 8 different research groups and spent the afternoon getting to know their research advisors–members of the research team at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI). They also learned about the study they would be working on for the next 3 months. Thursday afternoon was their first field block, where they got out on the water or into the lab for the first time! The 8 studies being conducted this semester focus on shark ecology & physiology, the impact of climate change on bonefish & mangrove flats species, lionfish & reef fish population ecology, and sea turtle & conch abundance & distribution around South Eleuthera. These studies are well-established areas of research at CEI and as a result, many visitors and collaborators will be visiting our campus over the next few weeks to share their knowledge and expertise with the students.
Research class is an exciting opportunity for students to gain new skills in the field – from fish identification and handling to public speaking and PowerPoint creation. Students learn about and contribute to global conservation issues, work in small groups, and ultimately, have the experience of a lifetime!
Last spring, CEI interns, Brendan Talwar and Ian Rossiter, created a short film about the endangerment of sharks to share with the public at the Governor’s Harbour Agricultural Expo. They used a unique method of film making called stop motion, which requires taking thousands and photos and stringing them together to create motion. The result of their efforts was incredibly impressive–so much so that it caught the attention of famous French underwater videographer (and former member of Jacque Cousteau’s prestigious dive team), Didier Noirot during his visit to the Cape Eleuthera Institute in April. Didier helped Brendan and Ian perfect the film and encouraged them to submit the film to a festival. This summer, their short film was chosen as a finalist in the 2012 BLUE Ocean Film Festival in the Animated category. Brendan and Ian will be attending the festival along with Edd Brooks, CEI’s shark project manager, September 24-30 in Monterey, CA. Below is the trailer for their film, “The Story of Sharks”. Good luck to Brendan and Ian!