Wild Bahamas

An Illustrated Ecology of The Bahamas:

Sun, Sand, and Sea from A-Z

Over the past two years, Leigh and Lisa Schmitt have been working dutifully behind the scenes. In addition to their teaching, researching, and administrative roles at The Island School, Center for Sustainable Development, and the Deep Creek Middle School, they have been collaborating on a book about the ecology of The Bahamas. Leigh was inspired to write the book as he completed his master’s degree in Conservation Biology from Green Mountain College in Vermont. This illustrated encyclopedia of aquatic and terrestrial organisms of the Bahamian Archipelago covers animals microscopic to mammoth, from the lesser-known rodents like the hutia to majestic and iconic national treasures such as the blue marlin and West Indian flamingo.

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Leigh noted that, “the endeavor was challenging, enlightening, a true labor of love, and a family affair.” He researched and wrote the book, Lisa painted the watercolor illustrations, and children Forrest and Ingrid provided feedback and support along the way. “My hope is that this message of conservation will inspire others to preserve and protect their favorite wild spaces.” 

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Leigh and Lisa remarked that they were particularly touched and humbled by the support of friends, students, and colleagues along the way. One particularly invaluable research advisor on the project was longtime friend of CEIS, Dr. Ethan Freid, a botanist at the Bahamas National Trust Leon Levy Preserve in Governor’s Harbour. 

Last week, the couple held a book launch with the greater Cape Eleuthera Island School in attendance in the boathouse. The setting was a fitting spot to celebrate concepts such as conservation, preservation, family, and exploration. 

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After 5 years living on Eleuthera, the Schmitt family has certainly developed their own Sense of Place- and this book is a tribute to their island home. Lisa explains that, “the book is a bit of a love note. Each moment spent painting allowed me to establish a better relationship with the subject and I feel like I got a chance to get to know this place in an even deeper way that has only heightened my appreciation for the ecology of The Bahamas.”

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In the weeks ahead, the author and illustrator team will be heading down-island to share their work with schools, libraries, and other public venues. They plan to give talks, conduct signings, and spread the message of conservation at independent book stores on Nassau this spring as the final editing and publishing of the book was completed locally by Media Enterprises, based out of New Providence.

The book can now be purchased in The Island School Store and is available through Media Enterprises in Nassau. Keep an eye out for more books in the future. These two enjoyed the experience so much that they plan to write another book soon.

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