Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Friends of the Environment June E-News

FRIENDS 30yr logo
Celebrating 30 years of conservation and environmental education!
Friends of the Environment E-Newsletter
Established in 1988
June 2018
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We started the month by preparing for summer camp, which is now under way, bringing fun filled days and environmental education to local and visiting children in Abaco.  The month ended with Rockin' with FRIENDS, where local musicians of all ages shared their talent at our annual fundraiser that supports FRIENDS summertime camp programs.  As we move into July FRIENDS is bustling with excited campers and interesting scientists are arriving to stay at The Kenyon Centre.  A huge thank you to those who continue to support FRIENDS and make it possible for continuing conservation successes in Abaco.

Cha Boyce
Executive Director
Friends of the Environment

Education Update 
Summer Camp Begins!!!
FRIENDS' signature summer camp kicked off the last week of June with ages 6-9. This group learned about our different ecosystems in Abaco, from pine forests, to mangroves, coral reefs and more! Each day they were given a lesson and went on an adventurous field trip! We are looking forward to the next few weeks of summer camp. Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages to see all the photos! 

Science Fair - November 15th
Theme: Investigating and implementing ways to eliminate single-use plastics. More info on project criteria and deadlines. We are having fun planning the fair, and looking forward to seeing what the students come up with! Teachers, note that this year projects should include an action component (not just research).


Abaco-wide Community Beach Clean Ups Take Place for Sea Turtle Nesting Season 
FRIENDS kicked off an Abaco-Wide Community Beach Clean Up in the month of June in honor of sea turtle nesting season! Too often we find our beaches full of debris washed up from the ocean or left behind by beach-goers. Did you know that only 1 in 1,000 sea turtles survive to adulthood? This debris makes it that much more difficult for sea turtle hatchlings to make it safely to the ocean where their life cycle continues. We encourage everyone to continue keeping our beaches clean, not just for sea turtles but for all animals living on our beaches, and to keep our environment looking pristine! 

Green Turtle Cay Lionfish Derby
We ended our first summer month with our 10th annual Lionfish Derby in Green Turtle Cay! Lionfish are an invasive species in Bahamian waters, and derbies are a great way to eliminate them from our reef ecosystems. Eight boats participated, catching 727 lionfish! 

The results:
Most lionfish - Spearbender (300)
Smallest Lionfish - Spearbender (3.6cm)
Largest lionfish - Lil Big Fish (33.6cm)

We encourage everyone to continue to catch lionfish outside of events like the derby. Catch 'em, clean 'em, and eat 'em!

Rockin' with FRIENDS
Last night, Hope Town Inn and Marina was a beautiful setting for one of our favorite summer events! This is the 7th year we have held Rockin' with FRIENDS to support our environmental summer camps, and we think it may have been the best yet! We are so proud of all of our local talent and grateful that they decided to share it with us in support of FRIENDS. We were even treated to an original song, written especially for FRIENDS' 30th Anniversary! Stay tuned, we hope to share it with you soon!

Thank you to all of our performers, raffle donors, event supporters, and Hope Town Inn and Marina for making the event a success.

30th Anniversary Reflections
Summer Camp - Cha Boyce, Ex. Dir.
Last Monday was the first day of summer camp! The kids with smiling faces, carrying their towels and packed lunches started arriving. A mother and her son, from New York City, who have been to camp before, arrive. They only have two days in their busy summer schedule, but they come to Abaco just for FRIENDS' summer camp. Her other three children are attending amazing camps in various locations, and for her youngest son, FRIENDS summer camp is worth the effort to come for two days to Abaco!!!  What a testament. She's dynamic and inspiring herself and our hour chat flies by. Within minutes of her leaving, a past camper / intern surprises us all with a welcome visit home from college, FRIENDS is a first stop. Hugs all around, and he asks if he can please come back and help tomorrow.  Another testament!  The campers return from the mangrove field trip. Lessons have been learned and fun was had; you can tell from all the chatter and faces still smiling. I give an intern from this summer a ride home. He just graduated from high school and chose FRIENDS as his summer "place to be".  Through FRIENDS he had the opportunity to help with turtle research and tag a turtle last week, and said "that was one of the best days ever"!  As he got out of the car he tells me that since he did his work experience at FRIENDS two years ago, he has been back every chance he can to help with camps and after school programs, and that everyday he is at FRIENDS is a great day. From the determined Mom from NYC to the excited 6 year old with a bright smile, it doesn't take much to realize FRIENDS is an exciting place to be and environmental education is contagious!  It was the first day of summer camp, and it was a good day! These good days happen because of the support of all our members, donors and partners.  Thank You to ALL who make it possible for FRIENDS to continue to do the good work of environmental education and conservation in Abaco! We've come a long way in 30 years!

Sponsored by Disney Cruiseline

Kenyon Centre Update

FRIENDS Interns Assist with Turtle Research
Stephen Connett of The Bahamas Sea Turtle Network is traveling around the country surveying turtle populations and helping to assess the spread of fibropapillomas* in turtles. Our interns Jaro Curry and Vernae Porter got to spend a day learning more about the project with him and two interns from The Bahamas National Trust. They were ecstatic to have the opportunity and thoroughly enjoyed their day on the water. Thank you, Stephen!
turtle research intern summer 2018 Jaro and Vernae
Vernae Porter and Jaro Curry about to release a turtle after it was tagged in the East Abaco Creeks National Park. 

*Fibropapillomatosis is a herpes virus which is transmitted between turtles, and has been observed across the globe in most turtle species. The disease causes tumors which can impact their vision and mobility, ultimately affecting their ability to forage and defend themselves against predators. The disease is often more prevalent in areas with increased water pollution and run-off, however it has also been observed in clean sites like the East Abaco Creeks. Researchers are working to learn more about the incidence and spread of the disease in The Bahamas.

Our Gardens are Growing!
Our pollinator and bush medicine gardens are attracting pollinators like crazy! As you can see with this native blue flower plant, both bees and butterflies are taking advantage of available food.
blue flower pollinators bees and butterflies

Kenyon Centre Vision: 
Support the work of FRIENDS by facilitating scientific research and outreach, and promoting sustainable development in Abaco, Bahamas.

Community News: 

Community Feedback Requested
A number of areas throughout the country are currently being proposed for protection to improve our marine protected area network while helping The Bahamas fulfill our commitment of protecting 20% of our nearshore marine environment by 2020. The Bahamas Protected Team is requesting feedback on those areas, specifically: 

1) What activities are currently underway in this area?
2) What are threats to this area?
3) If this area were to be protected, what are some of the activities you would like to see take place there??

View an album of all sites currently proposed. Each photo includes details of why the area is important. Please leave your answers to the above questions as comments on the relevant photo(s) in the Facebook album (before July 20th). 

Show your support for the expansion and effective management of the Bahamian marine protected areas network by signing

Conch are Mating!
Conch mate in the summer time. If you see two conchs next to each other (like the picture below) please let them be! As a reminder, all conch caught should have a fully formed (thick), flared lip. If the conch has a thin breakable lip, or no flared lip at all that means it is a juvenile and unable to reproduce. Preventing a juvenile conch from growing to maturity (and mating) means that you are also removing a potential of thousands of conch offspring from the population.

Check out these conch facts from Community Conch!

Turtle Signs Installed!
Two signs were recently installed in Hope Town to help raise awareness of sea turtle nesting. Thank you to On da Beach and Hook House for allowing us to use their fences, and thanks to The Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research for sponsoring the signs! These signs will be installed in various places around the country. If you'd like to sponsor a sign for your local nesting beach, let us know!

Abaco's Environment in Photos

The bush is "on fire"! All the Royal Poinciana trees are blooming and we are enjoying the sight! While Poincianas are not native to The Bahamas, they have become an iconic part of our landscape. What are your 
favourite flowering trees in The Bahamas? Send us your photos!

Royal Poinciana in Hope Town

Friends of the Environment, PO Box AB 20755, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas