August 26, 2019
The Bahamas National Trust held its 11thannual Eco-Camp, sponsored by BTT, at Forfar Field Station on Andros from July 7 – July 13. 32 high school students from around the Bahamas spent the week learning about the biology and ecology of the nation’s ecosystems.
Bahamas Initiative Manager Justin Lewis and intern Nina Sanchez gave presentations on BTT, citizen science, the life cycles and habitats of bonefish, and best handling practices. The campers, some of whom were related to bonefish guides, were eager to learn about these topics, as many of them had not seen bonefish or had the chance to spend time on the flats surrounding their home island.
Building on the presentations, BNT and BTT staff took the students on a field trip to West Side National Park. The largest national park in the Bahamas, West Side National Park holds 1.5 million acres of pristine bonefish habitat. Justin and Nina led the campers onto the flats to seine net a school of bonefish, so they could have the opportunity to participate in scientific fieldwork. Under Justin and Nina’s guidance, students were able to measure and tag bonefish and record the data for BTT’s ongoing tag-recapture study.
Camps like these are a useful platform to spread accurate scientific knowledge to the family islands in the Bahamas. These small island communities rely heavily on sustainable bonefish fisheries. Students from seven islands attended Eco-Camp, and the knowledge they gained about bonefish will hopefully permeate through their local communities and encourage others to be more conservation-minded and aware of threats that bonefish and their habitats face.
BTTs partnership with organizations like the Bahamas National Trust are vital to education and outreach efforts in the Bahamas, as they open doors to harder to reach communities that can greatly benefit from conservation information.
Photo 1: Justin Lewis and students tag a bonefish.
Photo 2: Eco-Campers with Nina Sanchez and Justin Lewis.
Photo 3: Nina Sanchez directs campers collecting bonefish with a seine net.
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