Local School Visits & Research Presentations
The past month has been very busy here in Eleuthera. While wrapping up the Island School semester post- Parents' Weekend, preparing for the Research Symposium, and gathering data in the field, we have also pursued a number of partnerships with Bahamian NGOs and schools to get our research out to local community members.
Preston H Albury Eco-Club
Last week, Mr. Will Simmons, former teacher at Deep Creek Middle School and current art teacher and EcoClub sponsor at Preston H Albury High School, brought a van full of students down to CEI's wetlab for an afternoon of shark dissections. Together, we dissected four gulper sharks and learned all about their external morphology and adaptations to life in the deep ocean, internal anatomy, and a bit about shark conservation and management. The students were very excited to get their hands dirty and many of them volunteered to help us collect data on the sharks' size and maturity as well as collect samples for researchers elsewhere. What is so fascinating about these sharks is that we aren't entirely sure what species they are until we send off a sample of DNA- so it is a bit like an investigation as we inspect each individual, take ID photos, and make an educated guess. We all had a great time and a number of the younger students were very excited by everything they discovered. Hopefully activities like these provide a means to dispel common misconceptions about sharks in The Bahamas and give the students an opportunity to participate in research conducted on organisms in their backyard. The next step is for the EcoClub to come back and join us on the boat or in the water!
Bahamas Conservation Symposium & LN Coakley Secondary High School
In early April, I was fortunate to travel to Georgetown, Exuma in order to present at the Bahamas Conservation Symposium with the support of the Cape Eleuthera Foundation. The goal of the meeting was to bring local research to interested residents of the island of Exuma, and provide a platform for collaboration and partnership between regional NGOs during a year when the Bahamas National Natural History Conference was not held. Community Conch, Young Marine Explorers, Bahamas National Trust, Bahamas Marine EcoCenter, and our host, The Exuma Foundation, were all on hand to share their recent work.
Our group from CEI presented on deep sea sharks in Exuma Sound, the biodiversity and distribution of deep sea fauna (also in Exuma Sound), and the bonefish tagging program currently underway throughout the Bahamian islands. The presentations were open to the public for two nights, with researchers visiting a local school during the second day to present to 8-12th graders. The classes we visited were in the middle of 'Science Makes Cents' week, so our presentations were received with much enthusiasm. The kids were especially excited to see some deep sea isopods that we brought along. Big thanks to the classes we visited and Mrs. Keniqua Burrows, Mrs. Musgrove, Mrs. Adderly, and Mrs. Deleveaux, for hosting us!
Island School Research Presentations
Other than working with visiting schools, our Island School research class has continued to move forward. If you are interested in an update on our progress thus far, check out the presentation that the Island School Shark Research students delivered during Parent's Weekend earlier this month; they did a fantastic job.
Thanks and have a great weekend! More to come as we continue investigating the post-release mortality of common bycatch species here in Exuma Sound.