Island Tours

This morning we woke up to wind howling around the dorm, but the sun was shining and the island looked like a true tropical paradise!  We all splashed into the water for a swim before breakfast. Afterwards we rinsed off using precious seconds in the showers – we’re limited to one minute of water per person, since the campus depends on rain for its water.  Breakfast didn’t disappoint, and we ate under a coconut palm looking out to sea!

The morning held a crash course in using our GPS devices and a tour of the campus.  Especially interesting were all the elements that go into making this campus sustainable – we met chickens, ducks, and pigs, toured the recycling facility, and checked out the solar panels and wind turbine.  A large area was taken up by the aquaponics facility – a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, this was growing fish and lettuce!  We were shown an exemplary sustainable house, with the kitchen made of recycled glass and wood from the invasive Casuarina tree.

To help familiarise us with the island, in the afternoon a geocaching exercise was planned.  Clunky bicycles with no gears or brakes helped us travel faster, although some of us had to learn a few repair skills along the way!  Geocaching didn’t go quite to plan, so we found our own route and explored beaches, grassland and a small village.  There, we met men husking coconuts and tried a sip of the milk fresh from inside.

We made it to the marina, where a shop sold much-appreciated ice creams!  Reportedly, there are often bull sharks around there, but none made an appearance today.  We rested on Sunset Beach before pedalling back to campus for dinner and a talk on stingrays.

The talk focused on Southern Stingrays and Caribbean Whiptails, both stingray species found around the Bahamas.  We learnt how they are caught so that blood and tissue samples can be taken, and about the work on stable isotope analysis to determine their diet.  Stable isotopes are particular forms of chemicals such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous, and can be used to infer what an animal eats and where it spends its time as these chemicals build up in its tissues.  Tomorrow we will be out helping with this research as we go catching stingrays ourselves!  As course leader Lucy Hawkes put it; “The difference between a tourist and a scientist is that you get to handle stuff,” so let’s put down our cameras and don our metaphorical lab coats!

eo271    January 4th, 2018    Bahamas    , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.