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
An aquamarine ocean, stretching from the shallowest of waters to the deepest of abyss may be a lonely place; at times nothing but stretches of white sand and swaying sea grass is found upon the seafloor. Following a yellowtail snapper though, one may find themselves floating over a bustling patch reef. What is a patch reef you may ask? Located in shallow waters, these isolated coral reef outcrops, with an array of brightly colored fish and slow moving invertebrates; provide an essential transitional habitat for juvenile fish still unequipped for the strains of the open ocean. Continue reading
by Lincoln Zweig and John Morris
This was a very successful week for the lionfish research team. On Tuesday we had two great reading note presentations and started to work on our first group project. By our next class on Friday we had a PowerPoint set up that described our research group’s purpose. After a practice presentation we went out into the field. Each buddy team finished three transects at the first dive spot that went very well. However, the reef was quite flat so we didn’t see too many lionfish or grouper. A bolt of lightening then interrupted our dive, and we headed back to The Island School. Apparently the weather gods don’t like it when we dive on Friday. Saturday was an almost flawless day in the field. We got to both of our desired dive sites and had very well set up transects at each one. We saw more lionfish and grouper on Saturday because the reefs we visited had more ledges for lionfish to use as shelter. As a group we are definitely ready and excited for our presentation on Tuesday!
This semester’s Aquaponics team is now five weeks into our feed experiment testing the viability of fish silage as food for our Tilapia. Our team consists of the students, Grace,Griffin, Helen, Marius, Alex, AJ, and our advisors, Josh and Ashley. Aquaponics is a system that recirculates fish waste into a usable substance in which we can use to grow vegetables to eat here at The Island School. In our experiment, we are attempting to change the diet of the Tilapia that provide us with the waste that grows our food. Continue reading
The Fall 2011 Flats Research program kicked off their first class with Sam Saccomanno, Annie Blanc, Kate Maroni, Tori Suslovitch, Brendan McDonnell, Franklin Rodriguez, and our research advisors, Justin, Liane, and Ally. The focus of our research group is to study and raise awareness about mangrove conservation.
What are flats and mangroves? Flats are the area between land and sea where there is a broad surface level but shallow depth. Flats can be shallower than just a few centimeters and as deep as 2 meters. Mangroves are a plant species that thrive in the flats ecosystem and are very important on both an ecological and economic level. They are important nursery grounds and breeding sites for birds, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, reptiles and mammals, are renewable source of wood, accumulation sites for sediment, contaminants, carbon and nutrients, and offer protection against coastal erosion. Continue reading
By Maddy Philipp and Katie Harpin
Greetings from the Lionfish Research team! We are now three weeks into the program and have already learned so much. The purpose of our study is to look at how grouper and currents affect the distribution of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) found around Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas. So far we have gone on two mock dives. Unfortunately our second one got cut short due to an unexpected thunderstorm. We have also learned how to identify grouper and take the total length of fish from a distance underwater. For one of our classes, we took a trip to CEI and learned how to dissect a lionfish. From the dissection we could see what the lionfish had eaten. We also learned that lionfish can expand their stomachs up to 30 times its normal size. For another class we became scientist for a day and learned the correct structure for scientific papers. We have 3 research classes a week and two of those usually involve fieldwork. Although the readings may be strenuous, the lionfish team is excited to have the opportunity to work alongside biologists and helping to further the worlds knowledge on lionfish.
Attention alumni! Edd Brooks, shark project manager, is in need of some support on his upcoming shark expedition and is looking to The Island School alumni network for help. November 6-18, Edd and his team will be in Little San Salvador to recreate shark surveys that were conducted in the late 1970s. Their goal is to identify any shifts in the diversity and abundance of sharks in the last 30 years. If you are interested in applying to join this expedition or have any other questions, please contact Edd at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 14th. Continue reading
By Tyler Courville and Ihna Mangundayao
Did you know that 5.2 million people die every year from waste related diseases? Now you do! This is a result of irresponsible and inappropriate global waste management – 50% of which is organic and 35% is unsorted recyclables. This is becoming a major problem in both developed and less developed countries with the latter usually suffering the consequences. Developed countries like the US often dump their trash in less developed countries that cannot always meet the waste demands. People have been trying to find alternative ways to dispose of waste more responsibly and sustainably. To solve this crisis, scientists turned to Nature for a solution – creating an emerging field known as biomimicry, which copies Nature’s processes to make the world a better place for humans. From this, a solution arose: Biodigestion. Continue reading
Aquaculture Fall 2011 is off to a great start! Six enthusiastic students have embarked on a journey through the wild scientific studies of Aquaculture. Already, we have trod through mangroves, swum through strong currents, and collected 200 water samples in the past week. We have been testing pH level, levels of nitrogen and phosphorous, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature of the water. The water sample data we collected is being used to see if the mangroves surrounding the school and institute filter the water efficiently. The water is collected outside of the CEI campus and is then used in the CEI labs to raise fish. After the water goes through CEI, it goes through the mangroves and back out into the ocean. Hopefully our water sample research will show that the mangroves do effectively filter the water. Later on in the semester, we will dive down ninety feet to our underwater Aquaculture cage in order to help inform ourselves on ways to improve the problems Aquaculture has faced. We will keep you updated on our progress throughout the rest of the semester!