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Summer Shark Intern Blog: Grace Dennis (Su'10)

I’m Grace Dennis, one of the shark interns for the summer. I’m from Houston, TX and study Environmental Biology and Economics at Colgate University. This is my third summer on Eleuthera and I love it here. I first came to the Island School as a student for Summer Term 2010, then again last summer as a shark intern to work on the nurse shark mating project. This summer I’m lucky to be working on all three shark projects, the nurse shark mating project, Ian’s lemon shark predator and prey project, and Edd’s stress physiology project. Currently shark team is very excited about retrieving a satellite tag, which just spent 8 months on a reef shark. We spent 5 days on Lighthouse Beach looking for the tag, which had washed up on shore. The search was very time consuming and at times a bit stressful but we finally found the tag under a huge rock. This tag is extremely important because it shows us the movement of the reef shark over the last 8 months. Most satellite tags barely last a couple weeks on these sharks.

I’m so excited to be spending my third summer in a row on Eleuthera and I can’t wait to see what other exciting shark adventures are in store for the rest of my time here!

Summer Intern Blog: Shark Intern, Chris Daniell (F'10) & Boathouse Intern, H. Hoell

Chris Daniell Hello! My name is Chris Daniell, Shark Intern and IS alum, and thank you for reading my blog post!

Being a student at the Island School was the most amazing experience of my life. I was here in the fall of 2010, and I spent the majority of 2011 trying to return. And here I am, living on Eleuthera, and living the dream.

The three months I spent as an Island School student were the best of my life. I loved every aspect of life here, from the more environmentally conscious nature of life, learning new things and meeting new people, and exploring the island of Eleuthera. However, my favorite part of The Island School experience was the connection to the ocean. My life has been dominated by a love for two things: science and the creatures that inhabit the world’s oceans. The Island School gave me my first hands-on experience with marine science, and gave me the opportunity to work with marine biologists. I was placed in the flats research program measuring the metabolic responses of bonefish under the various stressors forced upon them by global climate change. I loved every moment of it. This was the defining experience of my time as an Island School student. However, I have always harbored a fascination for sharks and their relatives. Naturally then, being a part of the sharks program at CEI is a dream come true.

I have spent the last month assisting in all aspects of the shark research program. My first experience was with the nurse shark mating aggregations project. Every summer, nurse sharks enter the creeks nearby to mate. During this window of opportunity, the sharks team set out to record as much as we could. Every day, a couple of us would bike to a nearby creek and record all sighting of nurse sharks, or their behavior. On a few occasions, we would bring the entire team out with a large net and to catch and tag a few of them. Another program I am involved with is the ongoing study of baby lemon sharks. For this we go out into the field and catch juvenile lemons and other creek animals in a large seine net to monitor the population of the sharks in the creeks as well as their prey. Once a week, a few people head out to the creeks by boat to catch the sharks that eat the baby lemon sharks themselves. The third project is the long line stress physiology project. The goal of this project is to record the behavior and blood chemistry of a shark that has been caught on a long line hook. Cameras record the shark when its hooked, and an accelerometer measures its movements. Blood samples are also taken to record stress levels.

The experience has been a truly amazing one, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to be here. The days go by too quickly, just as they did in 2010. The work is hard, but I am following one of the most important lessons I learned as a student here:

“Do just that labour that marries your heart to your right hand” – Derek Walcott

H. Hoell

There is always something to work on around the boathouse. I clean the bottoms of boats, assist with motor repair, drive boats for research teams, and perform various other tasks. After five weeks of working in the boathouse I have developed my skills in boat repair and scuba diving. This internship has definitely been a worthwhile learning experience!

CEI Welcomes its Summer Interns, Including Six IS Alumni

This week, 16 summer interns arrived on Eleuthera to work at Cape Eleuthera Institute. Of those 16, we were excited to welcome back 6 Island School alumni who spent a semester, summer term, or divemaster course here on the Cape over the last 6 years. Mackey Violich (F'06), Elizabeth Douglas (S'08), Jasmine Wilchcombe (F'08), Grace Dennis (Su'10), Chris Daniell (F'10) and Jake Verter (S'09) will be here supporting the Shark and Aquaponics programs for the next two months! We're glad to have you back!

Lionfish Research in The Bahamas Makes Global Spotlight

[slideshow] Since its creation just over one year ago, the Lionfish Research and Education Program (LREP) at CEI has strived to become a hub for lionfish work in the Caribbean. Recently, LREP has taken some exciting steps toward reaching this status! Just last week, CEI hosted three producers and videographers from ZED (, a major French documentary company that is working on gathering footage for an upcoming TV series featuring invasive lionfish. Specifically, the documentary team was interested in learning about Bahamian lionfish research and management initiatives. Luckily, visiting scientist, and partner of LREP, Nicola Smith was able to come over from Nassau to support the week’s activities and be featured in the film! Nicola is the lead coordinator for the Bahamian-wide lionfish research project that operates under the Bahamian Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and partners with CEI.

ZED producer, Jerome Segur, sound engineer, Olivier Pioda, and underwater videographer (and former member of Jacque Cousteau’s prestigious dive team!) Didier Noirot, joined Nicola and LREP researchers in the field to get a closer look at lionfish and to better understand the project’s research objectives.

The week proved to be a big success for ZED, DMR, and CEI! The documentary will provide a valuable avenue for scientific communication and represents a great opportunity for Bahamian scientist’s work to be recognized by wider audiences. It is very exciting that the initiatives taking place on Eleuthera will now be shared with people all over the world! The documentary is scheduled to air by the end of the year in both France and Germany… keep your eye out!

-Skylar Miller (S'03), LREP Manager

CEI November Shark Expedition

[slideshow] The Geronimo, an experiential education vessel operated by St. George’s School from Newport, Rhode Island, under the direction of Captain Stephen Connett, conducted shark research cruises from the early 1970's through to the mid 1990's throughout the western Atlantic. From autumn 1979 through to spring 1981, regular seasonal surveys were conducted in Bahamian waters focusing on a shallow bank known as "the bridge" that connects the southern tip of Eleuthera to the northern tip of Cat Island. The data resulting from these surveys, representing a snapshot of Bahamian shark abundance from over 30 years ago, have never been rigorously analyzed or published. Edd Brooks, manager of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at CEI, is collaborating with Stephen Connett and Jeff Stein (University of Illinois) to recreate these surveys over the next two years, with the goal of identifying potential shifts in the diversity, abundance and demographic population structure of sharks in the North East Exuma Sound over the last 30 years. The first field season took place earlier this month and Edd, Jeff, and Stephen successfully completed surveys of the bridge with the assistance of two Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholars, Ann Marie Carroll and Brandon Jennings, Stephanie Liss (former CEI shark program intern and graduate student at University of Illinois) and Christopher Koch. Christopher, an experienced captain and diver, has supported the Shark Research and Conservation Program since his daughters, Hanna and Melanie, studied at The Island School in Fall 2006 and Fall 2008, and offered to return to Eleuthera once again to help on this exciting expedition. Just goes to show that IS alumni aren't the only ones that can come back to The Island School and CEI--parents can, too!