September 18, 2018
BTT’s educational tour made a pit stop on Andros island for the Bahamas National Trust’s (BNT) annual Eco-Camp. This year’s camp brought together 40 students from across 30 Bahamian islands interested in learning about their local environments. The camp curriculum dedicated a day to learning about flats habitat and their dependent species. BTT Bahamas Initiative Manager Justin Lewis gave a presentation on BTT’s integral role in Flats conservation. Bahamas Initiative intern Nina Sanchez followed up by emphasizing the importance of citizen science to the ongoing success of the organization’s conservation programs. The campers were thrilled to learn that they would be given the opportunity to participate in a citizen science effort the very next day by assisting with BTT’s bonefish tag-recapture program.
Campers couldn’t wait to apply their classroom knowledge on their visit to West Side National Park, a large swath of coastal mangrove habitat vital to the island of Andros. Justin, accompanied by Andy Smith, a local bonefish guide, waded across the flat to scan the horizon for tails. Justin targeted a small school and caught one on fly. He quizzed the kids on bonefish anatomy and tagged the fish he caught. Andy and Nina then guided the students across the flat to seine net the small school. Each of the 40 students took turns tagging the netted bonefish with Justin and Nina’s guidance, providing them with the unique educational experience of contributing to scientific research.
When these students return to school, they will share their experiences at Eco-Camp with their peers and wider communities. Partnerships with organizations such as BNT are vital to efficiently and effectively educating the Bahamas youth about the environmental and economic importance of bonefish and flats habitat.
We would like to thank the Bahamas National Trust, ALIV, and FOFAR Field Station for hosting Eco-Camp and inviting BTT to participate. We look forward to partnering with Eco-Camp for years to come.
Photo 1: Elijah Sands
Photo 2: Justin Lewis
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