The Cape Eleuthera Institute‘s Shark Research and Conservation Program recently initiated a novel project that aims to assess the spatial ecology and genetic diversity of three species of stingray in the waters surrounding Southern Eleuthera. It is hoped this research will provide much needed information on how species critical for ecosystem function occupy and share space as well as exploit fragmented seascapes for migrations and dispersal corridors.
Check out this amazing video from our friends at Behind the Mask to learn more about the stingray project!
The Bahamas has an abundance of inland ponds that are rarely visited and poorly studied. These inland ponds are fragile ecosystems that are under threat from developments, pollution and the introduction of species, yet these ponds are rarely considered for conservation protection. Eleuthera has over 200 of these inland water sites. One of these, Sweetings pond, has an unusually high number of seahorses. This pond may not be the only special site, as these isolated ponds are known to support unique and endemic life. This semester, Island School students started to explore and assess the ponds of South Eleuthera to provide data to ensure their long-term conservation. Excitingly we found new species, please visit the CEI blog for more details.
In November 2014, the Biodiesel program at The Island School began an upgrade to the biodiesel manufacturing equipment. The update, which was recently completed, drastically improved the speed at which fuel is produced and also improves the quality of the end product. The upgrade included the installation of a drywash tower, a methanol recovery unit, and reconfigured the entire facility with new plumbing, pumps, flow meters, and electrical controls.
The Drywash Tower replaces the previous method of cleaning processed fuel, which used water. The dry wash tower shortens the production time to process 150 gallons of biodiesel to two days, as opposed to 10-12 days as previously experienced. This has increased our production capacity to well over 30,000 gallons per year, nearly 4 times our previous capacity, and well above our current fuel demand. On a yearly basis, the drywash tower saves the school nearly 20,000 gallons of water, over 750 man-hours of labor costs, and drastically reduced production costs.
A secondary piece of new equipment installed is a Methanol Recovery unit. As the name would lend you to believe, the methanol recovery unit enables the recovery of excess methanol from the glycerol waste stream of the biodiesel reaction. The recovered methanol can be reused back into the production cycle and offset a portion of the methanol the program needs to purchase and import from the US. The methanol recovery unit has the potential to reduce the cost of biodiesel production by over $0.20 per gallon; and since methanol is the most expensive of the three chemical ingredients that make biodiesel, financial savings are felt on a very short time scale.
The biodiesel program at Island School began as a student run research project in the fall semester of 2002. Currently, the Organization uses biodiesel in vans, surfs, trucks and backup generators. We will soon begin testing biodiesel in boats, which has the potential to save the organization significantly in fuel expenditures. B100 (100% biodiesel) burns much cleaner and more completely than diesel fuel from other sources, such as fossil fuels. On average, a reduction of 60% in particulate matter, 60% in carbon monoxide, 70% in unburnt hydrocarbons, and 100% in sulfur dioxide can be expected. Moreover, the main chemical ingredient in biodiesel is used cooking oil; a perfect example of a renewable source of fuel.
If you have any further questions, or care to learn more about the biodiesel program at The Island School, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deep Creek Primary School, with the assistance of The Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI), has started a new initiative to build a school community garden with the aim to provide students with access to healthy meals and nutritional awareness.
The planning phase for this project began in October. Deep Creek Primary School teachers and CEI staff met to discuss the potential of a collaborative project that would not only be educational but also provide students with the opportunity to gain valuable practical skills.
A Parent Teacher Association meeting held in mid October ensured that all key-stakeholders were incorporated in the planning process and that there was sufficient backing to support the initiative. The meeting was a great success with demonstrated support from teachers, student’s parents and local community members. An assessment of the surrounding grounds was completed by the key-stakeholders and an area adjacent to the school was chosen for the location of the proposed garden.
In early November the first gardening day was held with a great turn out; 21 community members and 8 CEI staff came together to start clearing the borders of the land so that grow-beds could be constructed. Weekly gardening days were arranged to continue land-clearing efforts and seedlings were planted in preparation for transplanting into the anticipated grow-beds. The great physical effort of clearing the land was alleviated in late November by The Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina, who kindly helped support this initiative by donating the use of their back-hoe to assist with clearing the large area of land and digging holes for fruit trees. This support was an enormous help to further the project.
Each class will have their own grow-bed, which they will be responsible for the up-keep of, creating ownership and competition between classes. Maintenance of the garden and respective class grow-beds will be incorporated into student daily chores. The combination of ownership that students have over the garden and competition between classes will motivate students and hopefully ensure the success of the project! This endeavor will not only provide students with useful knowledge but also requires them to be responsible and accountable for a project, a great life skill to practice.
In early December, a couple of fruit trees were planted, 7 of the class grow-beds were constructed and the previously potted seedlings were transplanted to the garden. Future plans include planting many more fruits and vegetables in the garden so that healthy meals can be produced for students at the school, and increasing education and awareness amongst students about a balanced, nutritional, healthy diet.
Professional fashion and beauty photographer, host of TV’s The Face, and judge on America’s Next Top Model recently toured the campus’ of The Island School and The Cape Eleuthera Institute while vacationing with his family. Mr. Barker was impressed with our commitment to sustainability and variety of programs offered by the organization.
The kayak trip was a great experience for all Island School students. We learned the basic kayak skills, such as what to do in a situation when the kayak tips over. The current was both with and against us at different points during the trip. We traveled from campus to Triangle Cut then through the Marina to Sunset Beach. At Sunset Beach, we began a lesson about the moon phases and how the position of the moon affects the tides. We enjoyed a short snorkel and swim at the beach. For lunch, we ate awesome PB&J tortilla wraps with great GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) on the side.
After lunch, we got back in our kayaks and made our way to No Name Harbor, where we explored the mangroves while fighting the current which tried to push us to shore! The wind began pushing us back to campus as we started our travel in our kayaks. Although we were tired and sore by the time we got back, it was a great day on the water. We finished up our kayak day by washing the kayaks and lifting them back under the boat house and we were free to explore the Cape for exploration time!
In addition to kayaking on the surface of the water and exploring the island on vans on the South Eleuthera Road Trip (SERT) this week, we began to develop a sense of place for South Eleuthera through SCUBA diving!
We took our first breath underwater and plunged deeper and deeper into the ocean. In order to be certified divers, most of us had to develop skills such as buddy breathing, buoyancy, and other basic skills. In addition to these requirements for certification, we had a great time taking in our surroundings. A couple of ways that we made the dives fun were break dancing in the water and doing handstands. While underwater, we also had the opportunity to see some really cool marine life such as: sting rays, battle stars, and many colorful fish.
Even though our orientation week has been really busy, we are learning a lot about where we are and we even found time to unwind on the Fourth of July to celebrate America’s independence. We roasted marshmallows on the bonfire and we made s’mores (which for some of us was a first!) out on Boys Dorm Beach. We laughed and sang songs that reminded us of home. We realized how close we had become in only a few days! We lit sparklers and hung out all together. We are getting even more excited for the Bahamian Independence Day celebration tonight in Governor’s Harbour!
Deep Creek Middle School in conjunction with The Island School is hosting boarding school admissions officers in Eleuthera in November. It is a great opportunity for schools to get to know some of the local students who may be considering continuing their education in the U.S. for high school. As part of their time in Eleuthera, admissions officers would conduct a school fair, observe classes, and tour The Island School. It is a great opportunity for sending schools to spend some time at Deep Creek Middle School, as well as some time on The Island School campus. Please click here for more information.
A few weeks ago the Educational Programs team had the pleasure of running our longest standing camp, The South Eleuthera Kids Camp (SEKC) for a five day event filled with wild fun, good times, and most importantly, some powerful learning moments. SEKC is a camp run yearly during the summer for local Eleutharan children to get a first hand experience of all that goes on at the Cape Eleuthera Institute and the Island school. Continue reading →
The Island School was honored to welcome William and Brittany Trubridge to Cape Eleuthera. William is the current world record holder for unassisted freedive to 100 meters or 328 feet. He and his wife Brittany, who is an accomplished yoga instructor, spent three days sharing their skill and passion with our larger community. Students and faculty were able to receive instruction in how to maximize their breathing and flexibility and participate on several freediving expeditions to nearby reefs. In the evening William gave a presentation with some background on his journey to become the best in the world.
The audience watched with amazement as he shared a video of his record dive, on a single breath using only his hands and feet (no fins) he went down into Dean’s Blue Hole. The deepest of all the subterranean caverns across the Bahama Banks, Dean’s Blue Hole is located on Long Island in the Southern Bahamas, 200 miles south of Eleuthera. His dive took a total of four minutes and eight seconds and the audience erupted in applause as he successfully showed the judges the tab that he carried back up from the darkness. Continue reading →
On Monday of this week K1 departed girls dorm cut and began their 8-day kayak expedition as the kayak rotation got underway. While they were headed out on the water, K2 headed down island for their trip to the north end of Eleuthera. After returning yesterday from their trip K2 left The Island School this morning for their 8-day trip. The first group of kayakers are preparing for their solo experience over the next couple of days and will be back next week. The other groups, K3 and K4, are on campus doing their academic rotation and will be doing their own trips in the upcoming week. To see more pictures, don’t get forget to check out our Flickr photostream.