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!
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!
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.
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!
The Island School is an incredible place. We are all enjoying every moment we experience together and we’re really becoming a family. It was our third full day in the Bahamas and the sunburns are kicking in, as well as the chafing. The bugs have attacked most of us… but that’s the lesson of this whole trip: to face the challenges that are thrown at us and embrace the lessons we learn from them. Continue reading
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
[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.