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Aquaponics

Summer Term 2013: Academics Update July 11, 2013

After a week exploring South Eleuthera above and below the water, the students are already taking on the academic portion of Summer Term!  Again, the students are quite busy, so Summer Term faculty have filled in for this blog post!  We, as faculty, are consistently asking them, “How can we live well in a place?”  Exploring this question, students will rotate through week long intensives focusing on three different themes: Marine Ecology, Food Systems, and Tourism & Development.

Marine Ecology: In Marine Ecology, the classroom is not a room full of chairs or desks. Instead, the classroom is a small portion of a larger coral head, buzzing with fish of all sizes and coral of all kinds. As students learn about various components of the marine ecosystem, they have the opportunity to explore what they learn in class underwater by taking the time to observe a single section of a reef. Students return to the same spot every class, each day more aware of the complex interactions that make a functional ecosystem. Students also dive into the world of Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson and participate in discussions about ethics and conservation.

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Food Systems: Understanding where our food comes from, how it gets to our table, and where our waste going after we are through are all essential in gaining a sense of place and grasping our term’s theme: living well in that place.  During the Food Systems unit, students will visit farms (both on and off Island School’s campus) to learn about the challenges and techniques to growing food on Eleuthera.  In addition, students will understand both our environmental and social impacts that accompany our production of waste products.  After two and a half days of in and out of classroom learning about food systems and human ecology, students will take part in intensives that highlight important sustainable food systems here on the Cape.  Students will break up into two groups, focusing on either the Aquaponics system at CEI or the Farm on Island School’s campus to further understand how to live well in a place with regards to the food we eat and the waste we produce.

Tourism & Development (Down Island Trip): Students explore the island of Eleuthera on a four day camping road trip. While visiting new settlements, such Governor’s Harbour, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, student conduct interviews with local Bahamians. On the Down Island Trip, students also visit some of the natural attractions like ocean holes to swim in, or caves to climb through. Throughout the week, students conduct a variety of readings and have discussions about how tourism has shaped the development of Eleuthera. As they see the effects of failed tourism on the island, they began to discuss alternative forms of tourism and how it can be done so in a sustainable way for the island of Eleuthera. The class opens student’s eyes to how we can travel and understand a place we are visiting, as well as getting a chance to see all 100 miles of Eleuthera!

Our first Down Island Trip comes back to campus today and we are looking forward to having our whole community together this afternoon!  Stay tuned for more updates from Summer Term 2013!

Thousands of Tilapia for Aquaponics Team

The Aquaponics research team at The Cape Eleuthera Institute has successfully hatched nearly two thousand tilapia eggs. Eggs were removed from the mouths of the female brood stock and transferred to a larval rearing device known as a McDonald Jar where they were maintained at a water temperature of 27°C. Tilapia are mouth brooders; upon fertilization of eggs the female scoops all of the eggs into her mouth and incubates them for 3-5 days. After spending four days in the McDonald Jar, the eggs had a near 100% successful hatch rate and transformed into fry. They have officially been introduced into the aquaponics system and are doing FANTASTIC! [slideshow]

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.

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Aquaponics Research Field Day

[slideshow] by Apon Research Students

Slimy fish squirmed between our fingers as we tried to avoid their spikes while getting accurate data for our Aquaponics research project. Today was our first four and a half hour official research block. We started the session with a harkness discussion ranging from the positives and negatives of tilapia to our goals for the future of Aquaponics. We followed this discussion by doing hands on work with the tilapia. It was a new experience for all of us because we had to learn the basics for capturing a sample population of fish from the tanks. In order to do so, we plunged half our bodies into the dirty fish water with big rusty nets in our hands. We also learned how to weigh and measure all of the fish. This was difficult at first, but our perseverance paid off and we managed to get a firm hand on the fish only after getting pricked by their spikes a few times. We ended the data collection with 50 healthy tilapia fish back in their tank and precise data to tell us how big the fish are, how quickly they are growing, and how much food to feed them. Overall, this was a successful first week and the Aquaponics team is ready to adventure into the world of sustainability.