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Lionfish, and conch, and sea turtles, and aquaponics, oh my!

Last weekend, programs from the Cape Eleuthera Institute, including the Reef Ecology and Restoration Team, Sustainable Fisheries Team, Sea Turtle Team, and Aquaponics Program travelled to Governor's Harbour Homecoming to spread the word about each of their fields. The CEI team in front of their booth at Governors Harbour Homecoming

Many people showed great interest in the lionfish and aquaponics displays. They were amazed at the use of plants to filter the fish waste out of water holding tilapia in the aquaponics system, while others who had never tried lionfish fritters are now converts! 

The CEI booth with information on lionfish, queen conch, sea turtles, and aquaponics

The Sea Turtle Team and Sustainable Fisheries Team also educated the attendees about the protection of sea turtles through some fun word games, and the life stages of conch through a display with varying sizes of shells, ranging from juveniles to adults.


The CSD represents at the annual Agribusiness Expo

  Some of the CSD/CEI display at the expo

During the 5th to the 7th of March, Zakita and Micheal represented the Centre of Sustainable Development (CSD) and the wider Island School/CEI community at the annual Agribusiness Expo in New Providence. Here, they spoke about the models of food production (Permaculture and Aquaponics) currently being employed at Cape Eleuthera, as well as networking and informing visitors to the expo about the events and opportunities going on within this organization. 

Michael at the CSD/CEI booth.

Many primary and high school children came by the booth, and an exciting dialogue ensued on the benefits of aquaponics and sustainable agriculture. It was inspiring to see how many of the booth-visitors knew about aquaponics in particular and wanted to know how to set up their own system for household food production.
In total, the expo visit was productive and a success and it was heartening to spread the word about the good work that the Island School-CSD-DCMS- CEI community is engaging in.

South Eleuthera Primary Schools Explore Marine Invertebrates & Sustainable Systems

Green Castle primary EP Green Castle Primary School’s teacher, Ms. Mary Thompson, brought her class of students in grades 5 & 6 for a marine invertebrate and snorkel trip at the Cape Eleuthera Institute last Tuesday. Students first discussed 4 common invertebrate phyla they might find: cnidarians, echinoderms, porifera, and mollusks. Then they headed out to snorkel off the beach! This was an exciting trip for students who examined the different invertebrates we found such as cushion sea stars, a brittle star, juvenile conch, a sea anemone, rose coral, and even a little periwinkle.

EP Local schools

On Wednesday, Ms. Nathalie Sweeting with Wemyss Bight Primary grade 4 came for a trip to explore some of the sustainable systems on campus. Students started off reviewing the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources. Then the class headed out to various systems around campus so that they could see these concepts in action. Their first stop was the dining hall cistern to measure how much water we had at the time and to talk about water conservation. Then they headed over to the wind turbine and solar panels to discuss some of the differences between how we get our energy and where they get theirs at home. A highlight for students was the aquaponics system where sustainability teacher, Adam Dusen, caught a few Tilapia and described how the system works to produce fish and hydroponically grown plants for consumption in the dining hall. It was great to get a close-up look at the unique system.

We would like to thank both schools for their enthusiasm about marine science and sustainability.  We look forward to seeing other classes from both schools here on campus in the future!

Wemyss bight primary EP mangroves

Local High School Teachers Consider Sustainability as a Part of Curriculum

PHAHS Teach 1 Teachers and Vice Principal, Ms. Knowles, from Preston H. Albury High School came to visit during teacher's planning week in late August. This visit served as the start to a collaboration regarding ways that CEI may support their curriculum planning with a focus on scientific research, native Bahamian resources, and small island sustainability. We hope that teachers of all subject areas, not just biology and the sciences but also math, English, art and other subjects, see a connection with the projects we have here at CEIS.

PHAHS YTeach 4

During their time on campus, some of the teachers investigated the invasive lionfish through a dissection. Some watched while others took part in the dissection identifying the lionfish's venemous spines as well as how to fillet and eat the fish! Others explored the aquaponics system and are interested in starting a program at PHA in the future.  Finally, some teachers learned about the current status of local conch populations.

We had a tremendous time collaborating with the teachers of PHAHS. It was a pleasure to have them on campus and share some of the research projects and educational programs offered at CEIS.

PHAHS Teach 3

Tilapia harvest at CEI

Kitchen ladies filleting tilapia. Last month, CEI conducted its first tilapia harvest since March 2013.  This exciting process began on Sunday morning when 160 tilapia were selected for harvest for an Island School parent's weekend meal and a fundraising event in Nassau. All of the fish were within the ideal harvest size range and were selected from our current stock of over 3000 fish. They were then placed in a holding tank and were not fed over the next 48 hours to clear their digestive tracts of food and waste, thus lending to a more sterile process.  On Tuesday morning, the process began when the fish were removed from their tank and humanely euthanized by being netted into an ice water slurry.  These fish were then transported to the kitchen and were filleted by a team of researchers and kitchen staff.  

Students from the Early Learning Center learn about tilapia from Whitney.

Each whole fish and the resulting filets were weighed to calculate which sized fish produced the highest percent yield.  This helped determine a more accurate target harvest weight and will cut down on wasted feed resources in the future.  The entire process took approximately 6 hours from start to finish. During the harvest, the tilapias got a visit from the little Cape Eleuthera Early Learning Center kids who were learning a bit about tilapia.  During their visit they got to touch a few of the fish, then sat down with their teacher and a special guest, a tilapia, to have a visual drawing session and a mini presentation to their classmates of what they’ve drawn.  As more tilapia are raised in the aquaponics system, one of the goals is to continue to use the system as an educational resource for visitors and students that are enrolled in The Island School and the Early Learning Center.  Ideally, the aquaponics team is striving to provide a sustainable and local meal for CEI and Island School's cafeteria as frequently as once a week. At the aforementioned event in Nassau, the provided tilapia were served in three ways- grilled, smoked, and as sushi, showing the range of ways that tilapia can be prepared.