At the conclusion of every semester, Island School students break into small groups to focus on a single final Human Ecology project based on an particular interested that has developed throughout the semester. Spring 2012 students Brendan James, Liz Ellinger, Paul Henderson, and Kyle Forness studied the Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Aquaculture program and its history and created an informational and professional video for educational purposes. Check it out!
As another piece of the Food week curriculum, students dive the offshore aquaculture cage. The SeaStation is a 3000 cubic meter cage, presently housing roughly 1000 cobia. The following photos were taken last week when the students visited the cage and spent the afternoon cleaning the netting and learning about aquaculture in The Bahamas. Check them out!
The aquaculture program here is running essentially a model system for the commercial aquaculture industry; we aim to display that (delicious) carnivorous fish, cobia in our case, can be farmed in the Bahamas in an ecologically and economically sustainable fashion. Just last week we moved all of the juvenile cobia (around 1,000 fish) from the wet lab into the cage, which was quite an impressive feat. I don’t know why little fish would fight going into a huge shark resistant cage in the ocean to be fed every day, but fight they did. Though, with the help of pretty much the entire staff here at CEI the process went very smoothly. While one team transferred the cobia to two 1,400 L (~400 gal) totes to be anesthetized with clove oil, another team prepared another two totes onboard the aptly named research vessel, the Cobia, and waited at the marina down the road. The initial two totes were driven over, and the fish were transferred with nets to the totes on the Cobia. Some of the fish didn’t feel like consuming the clove oil and being calm apparently, so this part was very slippery and prickly (cobia have spines) for us humans. All the fish were moved safely though, and we drove the boat out to the cage.
In order to put the fish in the submerged SeaStation cage, we crafted a “toilet” of sorts: a bucket with 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.
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!
I repeat…THE FISH HAVE ARRIVED!
After much anticipation, we got the call! The cobia fingerlings had a long journey from The University of Miami’s experimental fish hatchery at RSMAS to the Cape Eleuthera Institute. We spent the day preparing the tanks for the fingerlings…scrub, rinse, soak, drain, scrub, rinse, fill! Marie and Josh took the truck to pick up the 13 boxes from the Rock Sound Airport Friday afternoon. It was like Christmas morning when the truck finally pulled up. We put the bags in the tank to acclimate the cobia to their new home. After, we opened each bag and carefully let them free! The fingerlings will be used in an upcoming feed trial. Continue reading
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.
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.
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!
[slideshow]Digging my fingers into the dog food like fish meal, I grabbed a handful and tossed it into the large tank filled with ravenous cobia. This is one moment that we experienced during our introductory day to the world of aquaculture. Many people don’t fully understand how aquaculture works or even simply what it is. Aquaculture, otherwise known as fish farming, is the cultivation of aquatic plants and animals, and is often perceived as a sustainable practice. However, people do not realize the negative repercussions that it has. To sustain the farmed carnivorous fish, smaller pelagic fish must be harvested to create fish meal. Our goal through this project is to determine if we can use a smaller percent of fish meal in the feed and still produce an equal amount of growth.
Last semester a group students compared the growth of fish using 40% fish meal feed and 80% fish meal feed and found that there was no difference in the rate of growth. This summer we are comparing the growth of fish using 25% fish meal to 40% fish meal. We are predicting that the fish fed 25% fish meal and the fish fed 40% fish meal will grow at the same rate. If our data supports our hypothesis, then aquaculture can become a more sustainable industry. Currently we are testing 3 tanks filled with cobia, 2 of which are fed 40% fish meal and the other 25% fish meal. One problem we face with the cobia in close proximity is the transmission of parasites.
One method used to remove parasites is formalin, a chemical that can cause excessive damage to not only ourselves but the environment around us. A new method that has been recently proposed is the use of gobies, which are cleaner fish. Another thing we would like to study in this term is the use of formalin compared to the use of gobies to remove parasites. We hypothesized that sadly the formalin will be a more effective parasite removal method. This is because the gobies have too many variables that we are unable to control, such as the cobia may eat them.
We have already learned much about the sustainability and misconceptions of fish farming. We hope that we can find ways to make aquaculture a more sustainable industry for the future! Working in the lab is always a fun and interesting part of our day and we cannot wait for the results of our experiment.