Collaborating with Island School students is always a rewarding experience for CEI researchers, and it was no different for the class of Fall ‘17. This semester, CEI research classes both built upon previously established projects and pioneered new ones.
Senior Research Assistant Meagan Gary and Research Technician Chelsea Begnaud worked with six students to determine the optimal time to collect diet samples from green turtles (Chelonia mydas). This methods study fits within the wider, ongoing turtle research at CEI looking at seasonal and spatial variations in their diet. Having performed esophageal lavage at different times of the day and different tidal states, the team presented preliminary results regarding the optimal conditions at which to collect diet sample to maximize their size.
Research Associate Dr Nathan Robinson and Research Technician Giulia Cardoso co-advised seven students on the very first drone-based research project at CEI. The team conducted paired drone and snorkel surveys in two mangrove creeks, and compared results to assess the advantages and limitations of using drones to monitor megafauna in shallow-water environments. The results are highly encouraging, showing that some species, such as lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) and bonefish (Albula vulpes), are preferentially spotted on drone surveys.
The third research class was led by Senior Research Assistant Eric Schneider and Research Technician Reid Webb. The two advisors and their six students worked on a new project focusing on the ecological significance of fish aggregation devices (FADs) and their role as conservation tools. In collaboration with some CSD staff members, the team successfully assembled and deployed sub-surface FADs and began monitoring their early colonization by pelagic species.
All three teams delivered excellent presentations, leaving the 150-strong crowd of parents, siblings and community members incredibly impressed by their grasp of the science conducted and their confidence in communicating it. The class advisors and the rest of CEI are extremely proud of the Fall ’17 research teams and wish them all the best for the rest of the semester!