Viewing entries tagged

The Story of Sharks

Last spring, CEI interns, Brendan Talwar and Ian Rossiter, created a short film about the endangerment of sharks to share with the public at the Governor's Harbour Agricultural Expo. They used a unique method of film making called stop motion, which requires taking thousands and photos and stringing them together to create motion. The result of their efforts was incredibly impressive--so much so that it caught the attention of famous French underwater videographer (and former member of Jacque Cousteau's prestigious dive team), Didier Noirot during his visit to the Cape Eleuthera Institute in April. Didier helped Brendan and Ian perfect the film and encouraged them to submit the film to a festival. This summer, their short film was chosen as a finalist in the 2012 BLUE Ocean Film Festival in the Animated category. Brendan and Ian will be attending the festival along with Edd Brooks, CEI's shark project manager, September 24-30 in Monterey, CA. Below is the trailer for their film, "The Story of Sharks". Good luck to Brendan and Ian!

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!

Recreating a Historical Shark Research Project

[slideshow] The joint CEI and University of Illinois shark research team just returned from the second of four, 2 week field expeditions to a shallow bank known as “the bridge” that connects the southern tip of Eleuthera to the northern tip of Cat Island. The first expedition went out in November 2011. The historical project is re-creating a study from a dataset detailing the diversity and abundance of shark populations in The Bahamas that took place over 30 years ago. Back then it was conducted by Captain Steve Connett and the crew of the R/V Geronimo from St Georges, Rhode Island. The current study is conducting surveys identical to those performed by Captain Connett and his crew 33 years ago, and has already discovered some very interesting results. In the original dataset, 96 sharks from six species were captured during 25 scientific longline sets. In just 12 sets, we have already caught 84 sharks from three species! While the recent study has encountered a lower diversity of species, the species dominating the catch remains the same. In the original dataset, tiger sharks represented 54% of the catch, and Caribbean reef sharks represented 33%, however, in the modern surveys Caribbean reef sharks and tiger sharks appear to have switched places, representing 67% and 31% of the catch, respectively. This is especially interesting in relation to the Bahamian ban on longline fishing instated in the 1990s, as Caribbean reef sharks, which are thought to be less migratory in nature than tiger sharks, might be benefitting from the indirect protection. Conversely, tiger sharks are more migratory in nature, and the benefits of the ban may be more limited.  These results are still preliminary but with two more expeditions planned for 2012 and 2013 a much clearer picture should evolve in by the end of the project.

CEI at the Abaco Science Alliance Conference

Last week members of the Cape Eleuthera Institute attended the 5th Abaco Science Alliance Conference. Every two years Friends of the Environment host this conference that showcases research being done on the areas of natural history and environmental science of Abaco and The Bahamas. This two day event was held in Marsh Harbour and addressed a wide range of subjects, from cave formations to migrating birds. CEI’s aquaculture manager, Marie Tarnowski, presented on the development of the Sustainable Aquaculture Program at CEI and Annabelle Brooks, Research Manager at CEI, presented findings on lemon shark abundances in mangrove creeks around South Eleuthera. CEI’s Flats manager, Liane Nowell, presented a poster that focused on bonefish handling practices and the bonefish tagging program while Josh Shultz, Aquaponics manager at CEI, presented a poster that focused on developing aquaponics in The Bahamas. This was the first time anyone from the Cape Eleuthera Institute had presented at the Abaco Science Alliance. All attendees from CEI had a great time not only learning about other facets of research in The Bahamas, but also sharing our own novel research and making great connections. Representatives from CEI look forward to attending future Abaco Science Alliance Conferences.


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!