For the Island School summer term, six students had the opportunity to work with Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick researching invasive lionfish. In one day, the students became professionals at cast netting, dissecting lionfish, conducting behavior observations, and data analysis. They dissected fourteen lionfish, with body fat ranging from% 0.58- %2.1 and the discovered of various prey items in the stomach including crabs, grunts, and blue headed wrasse. Shockingly, there were twelve fish in one stomach; proving the voracious eating habits of the lionfish. The students are now knowledgeable invasive lionfish researchers. Of course, the students love to eat lionfish and recommend everyone do their part to stop the invasion by eating them.
The Island School is excited to announce the launch of Island School Street View! You can now take virtual tours of The Island School, Cape Eleuthera Insitute, and Center for Sustainable Design campuses, as well as iconic locations around the Cape as if you were there! To move througout the tours, pan around the “photosphere” and click on the hovering arrows or circles located on the screen.
The Island School Campus Tour has six locations throughout the tour: The Flag Circle, Entrance, Boathouse, Dining Hall, Boy’s Dorm, & Boy’s Dorm Beach.
The Cape Eleuthera Institute Winter Newsletter went out earlier this week. Take a peek to see all the amazing things going on over at the institute! Also be sure to visit their blog to keep up with daily happenings.
During the fifth day of each academic rotation for Human Ecology: Food Systems, students get the opportunity to participate in one of three CEI research projects: turtles, sharks, and bonefish. Here is an excerpt from our day on the field working with the turtle team on Friday!
It was a gloomy Friday morning in terms of weather, but The Island school kids were ready to go. Smiles, music, and gossip about turtle names drifts through the van on our way to Half Sound, an embayment 45 minutes north of school. Tagging turtles for research is not for the faint-hearted, and the Island School team showed up ready to get some catches. After a long ride to the creek we finally arrived, ready and waiting for the first turtle to cross our path. After a small talk about the movement of the tides and how it affects the destination of the turtles in the creek system, we quickly set up the net for the first capture. Turtle-ing requires patience and interaction with your peers. As we quietly form a line yards away, we face the net and walk back kicking and splashing as loud as we can. This may sound easy, but after a few hours and a mini lunch break in the water, we found ourselves worried that the turtles had outsmarted us. With our doubts we set up our net with a different technique. Instead of keeping the net in one location, making it easier for the turtle to escape, we moved the net around the people herding, hoping to get the turtle in the circle. After turtles made it out of the circle by jumping over the net and moving under the net, we made our first catch!
After the catch, we quickly proceeded to take care of business. Turtles are able to live outside of water, but we always wanted to make sure the turtle is not stressed through the process. We went on to tagging where we insert a tag on each of the turtle’s front fins so that if he or she was to show up in a new location and somebody found them, they would know who to contact and get an idea of growth rate. We also recorded the species, width, weight, and length of the turtle. The process was not lengthy and the turtle swam off unharmed and quickly. Although this green sea turtle was our only catch of the day, The Island School crew and the help of a few researchers from CEI put in the effort, making this a successful quest for turtles!
After a week exploring South Eleuthera above and below the water, the students are already taking on the academic portion of Summer Term! Again, the students are quite busy, so Summer Term faculty have filled in for this blog post! We, as faculty, are consistently asking them, “How can we live well in a place?” Exploring this question, students will rotate through week long intensives focusing on three different themes: Marine Ecology, Food Systems, and Tourism & Development.
Marine Ecology: In Marine Ecology, the classroom is not a room full of chairs or desks. Instead, the classroom is a small portion of a larger coral head, buzzing with fish of all sizes and coral of all kinds. As students learn about various components of the marine ecosystem, they have the opportunity to explore what they learn in class underwater by taking the time to observe a single section of a reef. Students return to the same spot every class, each day more aware of the complex interactions that make a functional ecosystem. Students also dive into the world of Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson and participate in discussions about ethics and conservation.
Food Systems: Understanding where our food comes from, how it gets to our table, and where our waste going after we are through are all essential in gaining a sense of place and grasping our term’s theme: living well in that place. During the Food Systems unit, students will visit farms (both on and off Island School’s campus) to learn about the challenges and techniques to growing food on Eleuthera. In addition, students will understand both our environmental and social impacts that accompany our production of waste products. After two and a half days of in and out of classroom learning about food systems and human ecology, students will take part in intensives that highlight important sustainable food systems here on the Cape. Students will break up into two groups, focusing on either the Aquaponics system at CEI or the Farm on Island School’s campus to further understand how to live well in a place with regards to the food we eat and the waste we produce.
Tourism & Development (Down Island Trip): Students explore the island of Eleuthera on a four day camping road trip. While visiting new settlements, such Governor’s Harbour, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, student conduct interviews with local Bahamians. On the Down Island Trip, students also visit some of the natural attractions like ocean holes to swim in, or caves to climb through. Throughout the week, students conduct a variety of readings and have discussions about how tourism has shaped the development of Eleuthera. As they see the effects of failed tourism on the island, they began to discuss alternative forms of tourism and how it can be done so in a sustainable way for the island of Eleuthera. The class opens student’s eyes to how we can travel and understand a place we are visiting, as well as getting a chance to see all 100 miles of Eleuthera!
Our first Down Island Trip comes back to campus today and we are looking forward to having our whole community together this afternoon! Stay tuned for more updates from Summer Term 2013!
Greetings from the Island School’s 2013 Summer Term! This weekend, students enjoyed an evening off to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the independence of the Bahamas. We piled into the bus with high anticipation of enjoying some traditional Bahamian food and dance. The warm hour and half long ride to Governor’s Harbour ended with a cool breeze and the sweet smell of celebration. Almost immediately it seemed that the overwhelming smells of conch fritters and coconut drinks drew everyone into a line behind Shauna’s food stand. After chowing down on the food, the cool grooves of rake and scrape music coaxed us into the dancing field. Many of us took a break from twisting and shouting to cool off along the ocean side. Some of us couldn’t help but admire the locally made jewelry and baskets. Only the strong winds and rain could stop our moving feet. A small storm blew in, forcing us to pile back into the bus with our conch salads and high spirits. The drive back quickly lulled us to sleep under the beautiful South Eleutheran stars. It was a truly memorable night. Happy Birthday, Bahamas!
Thanks to Savannah and Chase for this Student Update! In addition to celebrating Independence day today, we are also preparing the campus for the wind and rain expected to arrive later this week. Students helped out on Island School’s campus and at CEI by assisting in storm prep! Everyone is ready to face the wind and rain head on!
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 →
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.
For those of us in the professional workplace, we know all too well that our day-to-day can get overwhelming, disheartening and sometimes banal. Even scientists, as exciting as our research can be, feel this too. At CEI, there is so much going that on that it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and take for granted this amazing place where we live and the truly interesting work we do. Long hours of fieldwork, scrubbing tanks, struggling through statistical analysis can sometimes can leave asking, “what is this all for?” To alleviate this, we look for “pick me ups”, which for many comes in the form of coffee, or, for the Brits among us, a cupp’a PG Tips. I find that taking a plunge into the ocean or a run around the loop also gets the job done. But these practices are…well, just not sustainable! The trick, I’ve discovered, to really get energized and motivated – I mean really excited about what you’re doing, your job, your day to day – is to attend a conference! Conferences bring like-minded people together to discuss similar topics of interest. They inform, spark dialogue, entice collaboration and get people enthusiastic about their work. I like to call this getting your “conference caffeine.” Continue reading →
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.