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Human Ecology Intensives

During kayak rotations this term, students had the chance to do what we call an 'Intensive' for Human Ecology class. Students focused on one project to develop the viable solutions, skills, and knowledge that they need to take home with them. The three intensives included: Plastics and Marine Pollution, Aquaponics, and Sustainable Agriculture. In Plastics, the students conducted beach plastic surveys to determine how much micro and macro plastic has washed up onshore different beaches of Eleuthera. The Aquaponics team learned more about the system located at CEI and built their own 'backyard aquaponics' model. The Sustainable Agriculture group worked on The Island School farm and designed their own grow bed and 'herb spiral'. Check out a couple of the videos that the students created about their experience and the project they worked on!

Great Event at Rid-All in Cleveland, OH!

As a native Clevelander, I take great pride in anything Ohio so I was over the moon when I first heard about Rid-All Green Partnership Farm. Rid-All is an exceptional example of not only how Cleveland is making a difference with urban agriculture but also how experiences at The Island School can easily translate to "the real world." The most direct connection is their closed aquaponics system with Tilapia--sound familiar?? On Saturday December 22, 2012 Island Schools alumni, parents and teacher conference attendees gathered in the cold and snow to tour the farm. Co-founders Randy McShepard and Damien Forshe gave us the history of the urban farm, its progress to today and showed us where all the magic happens. The key to their vision is establishing the farm as a center for education and modeling systems. They have also developed a number revenue streams to sustain the project and ensure it's ability to thrive and continue influencing locally and nationally the urban farming movement.  For more information on Rid-All please check out their website here.

Please enjoy the photos from our tour and we encourage you to visit this great place if you ever find yourself in Cleveland!  I know this will be the first of many visits by The Island School family and thank you to all who joined us for our first visit!

Happy New Year!--Mary Assini

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]

On Plastic Research Expedition with Kristal Ambrose

Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Kristal Ambrose embarked on her epic journey to of plastic research, leaving on April 24th.. From Nassau, Bahamas to Texas, USA; from Tokyo, Japan to Guam; and finally, on to Majuro, Marshall Islands, the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of exploration, opportunity, and learning for Ambrose, CEI's Aquaponics Intern and researcher dedicated to finding solutions to plastic pollution in the world's oceans. “Most of what we eat, drink or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic—a material designed to last forever yet used for products that we use for as little as thirty seconds then throw away,” describes Ambrose on her blog. “Plastic creates toxic pollution at every stage of its existence: manufacture, use, and disposal. This is a material that the Earth cannot digest. Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, including the small amount that has been incinerated and has become toxic particulate matter. In the environment, plastic breaks down into small particles that release toxic chemicals into the environment. These particles are ingested by wildlife on land and in the ocean, contaminating the food chain from the smallest plankton to the largest whale…This trip will serve as my formal training experience to tackle the plastic pollution and marine debris issue within my country.”

In Nassau during the days before departure, Ambrose was invited to tea at the home of His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes, Governor General of The Bahamas. They discussed issues of plastic pollution, so pressing to their island nation. His Excellency was impressed by her dedication to conservation in The Bahamas and excited about her expedition. He showed his support by bringing her story to the attention of important local media sources.

She has been personally detailing the steps of her voyage, from the benevolent support of the U.S. Embassy who helped her get her visa in just one day, to the sweet old Marshallese man who tried to betroth her to his grandson, to her first impressions on falling in love with the Pacific Ocean—plastic and all—on her blog. Ambrose describes each location and story along the way with charisma and spunk. Her personality and passion for her work shines through. She shows deep appreciation for this incredibly opportunity and even spent one whole blog entry, listing thanks to all involved in making this dream come true for her.

On May 1st, Ambrose and thirteen other crew members set sail aboard The Sea Dragon, a 72-foot sailing vessel. Equipped with minimal internet capacity, her blog updating may be less frequent during her time at sea. Still, the Sea Dragon’s progress across The Pacific can be followed through the Global Marine Network’s Vessel Tracking System and click here to find out more about the expedition and crew.

Introduction to Aquaponics Research

[slideshow] This semester’s Aquaponics team is now five weeks into our feed experiment testing the viability of fish silage as food for our Tilapia.  Our team consists of the students, Grace,Griffin, Helen, Marius, Alex, AJ, and our advisors, Josh and Ashley. Aquaponics is a system that recirculates fish waste into a usable substance in which we can use to grow vegetables to eat here at The Island School. In our experiment, we are attempting to change the diet of the Tilapia that provide us with the waste that grows our food. The commercial food that we are currently using is not environmentally friendly because it travels long distances to get to The Island School and it has nonspecific animal products in it, which could include things like wild-caught fish. Trading wild for farmed fish doesn’t make a lot of sense for an organization dedicated to marine conservation. Every week we team up to weigh, and measure 137 of our juvenile tilapia to see if they are growing when we give them silage from the cobia our aquaculture program raises to feed the school. If our experiment is successful we will be feeding them a more sustainable feed made out of the homemade silage, and our Aquaponics system will be even more efficient than it is today!