Welcome! I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. As of today, there is just ONE WEEK to go until the Bahamas field course, during which a team of University of Exeter students will be getting stuck into research and conservation in the watery world of the Bahamas. Until then, I’m going to cover some basics of where we’re going, what we might see, and a few bits about conservation – then we head off and I can start telling you what we get up to during the fortnight itself!
First things first – we’re travelling to Eleuthera, a skinny island in the Bahamas. Looking at the bigger picture, it’s near Florida and part of the West Indes – somewhere I’ve often heard of but never got around to finding on a map! It’s also on the edge of the Caribbean (see this blog post from last year if you want to hear about the pirates).
Google Earth shows beautiful, shallow seas around the Bahamas. These not only gave it its name (Baja mar means ‘shallow sea’ in Spanish) but also provide ideal conditions for coral reefs to form. Hugely important for wildlife and the human inhabitants of the island, these will be covered in more detail in my next post.
Leaving the sea and heading inland, Eleuthera boasts mangroves and wetlands, habitats just about as important (and threatened) as the reefs. We’ll have our work cut out exploring them all!
As for where we’re staying, the Cape Eleuthera Institute (just north of Freetown on the above map) is an extraordinary base both for research and as an example of sustainable living. From growing their own food to powering the campus with wind and solar energy, the Institute makes just enough of what it needs – this means we will have to be conscious of the resources we use there. Their ‘zero waste to landfill’ policy inspired me to seek out packaging-free solid soap, shampoo and conditioner – I’m fully sold on the former two but have yet to find a solid hair conditioner I can recommend!
For now, it’s back to the library for me, and I shall see you next time to talk about coral!
Click here to find out more about the Cape Eleuthera Institute, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (handles below). I’d also recommend reading last year’s blog posts – they’re very informative!
Instagram ~ fieldcoursefortnight
Facebook ~ Field Course Fortnight: Bahamas
Twitter ~ @UofEFieldBahamas