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 →
The first week of research was a big week for the Lionfish research project. We oriented ourselves to our goals, methods, and systems. We discussed what an invasive species means, the invasion of lionfish, their life cycles, and their anatomy. On Thursday, we dissected lionfish in the lab. Our project began with learning external anatomy, including how to prevent lionfish stings. Next cut their bellies and look into the internal anatomy. We saw their key organs, and even their super stretch stomach that makes them such a successful predator. I found it especially interesting when we opened their stomach; we identified their stomach contents. This is especially significant because we identified their stomach contents to determine which species were suffering due to lionfish predation. I really enjoyed our dissection. The following week was our first field day. We went diving on a reef and practiced protocol for surveying a particular reef. The group was really excited to begin their work and get in the water. Stay tuned for new updates from the Lionfish research project!
Researchers from Carleton University (Cooke Lab) was at CEI last week studying flats ecology. The team is determining whether radio tags can be used to track the movements of checkered puffers in shallow mangrove habitats. Radio tags normally are used only in freshwater because signals are attenuated by sea water. However, the researchers have modified the tags such that the antenna points vertically and breaks the water surface as puffers swim about in tidal creeks. In addition, the researchers placed tri-axial accelerometer loggers on bonefish in McKinney Creek at CEI. The loggers record information on swimming (e.g., tail beats) and feeding (e.g., tilting as they dip their heads to feed) activity. This is the first time that such loggers have been used on bonefish and will provide information that will serve as the basis for a bonefish bioenergetics model. The same loggers were also placed on some fish in Kemps Creek to evaluate the effects of different handling techniques on post-release behaviour. The Carleton team includes Jake Brownscombe, Felicia St. Louis, Charles Hatry, Jason Thiem, and Dr. Steven Cooke.
The joint CEI and University of Illinois shark research team just returned from the second of four, 2 week field expeditions to a shallow bank known as “the bridge” that connects the southern tip of Eleuthera to the northern tip of Cat Island. The first expedition went out in November 2011. The historical project is re-creating a study from a dataset detailing the diversity and abundance of shark populations in The Bahamas that took place over 30 years ago. Back then it was conducted by Captain Steve Connett and the crew of the R/V Geronimo from St Georges, Rhode Island. The current study is conducting surveys identical to those performed by Captain Connett and his crew 33 years ago, and has already discovered some very interesting results. In the original dataset, 96 sharks from six species were captured during 25 scientific longline sets. In just 12 sets, we have already caught 84 sharks from three species! Continue reading →
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.
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.
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!
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 →
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!
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 →