Craig discussing a project with Bahamian students
A core component of our lab’s efforts is development of educational outreach activities for students and the general public. We believe that educational outreach is a core foundation for environmental change, and we have strived to use our research program to enhance awareness of ecological issues. We are always looking for new ways to engage the public, and better approaches to integrate our research in educational initiatives. Some examples of our recent efforts are described below.
Check out the new blog The Abaco Scientist. More frequent updates on science and educational activities will be found on that site than will appear below, so follow more recent activities there.
Our projects in The Bahamas are conducted in conjunction with many government and non-government organizations: Friends of the Environment, Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Bahamas National Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. These efforts are supported by a NSF Career Award to Dr. Layman, as well as many individuals and private foundations. The projects described below would only be possible with such a broad network of collaborators, as well as extensive local community support.
The Invasive Lionfish
Frequent updates on the lionfish on our weblog - follow recent research advances there.
Some of the recent media coverage regarding the invasion....
- Here is a recent radio interview on the invasion: http://radiogreenearth.org/blog/?page_id=7
- FIU press release: http://news.fiu.edu/2011/06/chasing-the-lionfish-fiu-researchers-find-predator/28167
In the 2011 derby in The Bahamas, local fisherman (just 16 boats), brought in 2950 in a single day. Wow! See Section B Page 26: http://www.abaconian.com/Jun%2015,%202011%2052Pgs%20Linked%20R.pdf
Our lab is working with Friends of the Environment on the internationally recognized Size Matters campaign. Much credit to Friends of the Environment employee d'Shan Maycock for spearheading this impressive project.
The Caribbean Challenge
In conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, our lab is involved with The Caribbean Challenge Ė an effort to protect 20% of marine habitats in the region by the year 2020. For example, our research in The Bahamas feeds directly into marine protected area designation. We are also working with The Nature Conservancy to plan the first marine protected area in Haiti. We look forward to expanding these efforts to other areas of The Caribbean as momentum for The Challenge builds.
Cross Harbour Restoration
In spring 2006, we completed the restoration of Cross Harbour tidal creek. This project, assisted by volunteers of all ages, involved breaking through a causeway and installing culverts to restore tidal flow to dozens of acres of wetland. Additionally, the restoration effort helped re-create the historic tidal channel by selectively removing mangroves that had encroached into that channel.
Learn more about this restoration project at the following sites:
- Friends of the Environment - Tidal Creek Restoration
- Travel Media International - Abaco Wetlands Restoration
- BREEF Fish Tagging and Monitoring Projects
Broad Creek Restoration
Our most recent creek restoration involved more than 500 Bahamian students!!
Click here to learn more.
Race to the Reef
A project completed in summer 2009 that provides an example of our lab's joint science/education approach. From a scientific standpoint, we were exploring the degree of intraspecific niche variation for an abundant coastal fish species. Field trips with local schools (26 in total) were arranged so that each school caught and tagged their "own" fish. Using acoustic telemetry technology, graduate and undergraduate students tracked fish movement over the course of a month. Fish movement updates were announced on the islandís radio station and were posted on a Race to the Reef blog, allowing teachers to integrate the competition into their science lesson plans. In short, we were able to capitalize on an existing research project to provide unique educational opportunities for hundreds of students.
For more info on Race to the Reef, check out this video.
Friends of the Environment Summer Camps
Students gearing up for a snorkeling trip to Mermaidís Reef
A key component of our outreach program is working with Friends of the Environment on developing and implementing environmental education summer camps. These camps are designed to engage students, ages 7-13, in activities that teach them about local terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Field trips, e.g., to coral reefs, sinkholes, and pine forests, are paired with classroom instruction on the importance of these critical Bahamian ecosystems. For many students, the Friends of the Environment summer camps provide their first experience with local Bahamian ecosystems. Simultaneously, these camps provide an excellent outreach training opportunity for graduate students.
- Friends of the Environment - Summer Camps
Loxhatahcee River Oyster Monitoring
The Northwest fork of the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, FL was the first river in Florida to receive Wild and Scenic River designation and remains as one of the most pristine areas left in South Florida. We have a long-term sampling program of oyster-reef associated fauna, and we have had the help of hundreds of volunteers. A great way for students and community members to get to know the Loxahatchee River.
Stay tuned for more exciting educational outreach programs coming out of the Layman Lab!