Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Friends of the Environment November E-News

Celebrating 30 years of conservation and environmental education!

Thanks for popping in to read our newsletter and follow up on FRIENDS activities and conservation in The Bahamas! 2018 being our 30th anniversary has given us cause for a lot of reflection, within the organization, and about the country in general.
Friends of the Environment E-Newsletter
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November 2018
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Thanks for popping in to read our newsletter and follow up on FRIENDS activities and conservation in The Bahamas! 2018 being our 30th anniversary has given us cause for a lot of reflection, within the organization, and about the country in general. So much has happened since Frank Kenyon, Rudy Malone, Candace Key and Suzanne Bethel made the initial step to speak out about their concerns for our marine environment. Many of the issues that they highlighted have now been formally addressed; for example: longline fishing has been banned, dolphin capture is illegal and The Bahamas has a marine mammal protection act, and management plans are being developed for local fisheries and protected areas. These are all major accomplishments taking the concerted effort of many people and organizations over many years, but it goes to show that conservation is possible and we can all play a part. So often these days the news is doom and gloom and global environmental issues seem overwhelming. It's important to realize that we, as individuals, have power to make change too. We can make a difference in our own communities through small, positive actions that are easy to implement in our daily lives. We try to share these tips with you as often as possible, but feel free to ask us for ideas! Thank you for helping to lead the charge for conservation in Abaco! As always, we at FRIENDS are grateful for your support and committed to our mission of preserving Abaco's environment through education, conservation, and research facilitation. 

Olivia Patterson Maura
Deputy Director
Friends of the Environment

Nassau Grouper Season is CLOSED
December 1st-February 28th

You may have heard that the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species recently ranked Nassau Grouper as critically endangered. This means that, globally, it is one step away from extinction. The Bahamas is working hard to ensure that our Nassau Grouper fishery remains sustainable, but we all need to pitch in to make sure this becomes a reality. The main threat to Nassau Grouper is fishing of their spawning aggregations. The best thing we can all do to help their populations is to respect the closed season. The closed season dates were selected to give Nassau Grouper a chance to mate and reproduce for future generations. 

Here's how you can help:
- Between the dates of December 1 and February 28: target other species when fishing, do not sell Nassau Grouper, and refuse Nassau Grouper as a 
menu option. 
- if you see Nassau Grouper aggregating, please do not disturb them
- tell others about "the reason for the season" and encourage them to be sustainable fishers and consumers

Education Update 

Abaco Science Fair
We had a very successful Science Fair this past month. The theme was "Investigating and Implementing Ways to Eliminate Single-use Plastics", and our guest speaker was the Hon. Romauld Ferreira, Minister of the Environment & Housing. Minister Ferreira started the Science Fair by giving a powerful address to the students, encouraging them to be stewards of our environment and refuse single-use plastics. 

Some project titles included "Promote the Tote", "Uncap the Truth about 
Single Use", and "Package Eggsplosion". 
Congratulations to our first place winners this year: Hope Town Primary (Lower Primary), Man-O-War Primary (Upper Primary), Long Bay School (Lower High) and Patrick J. Bethel High (Upper High). 

A special thank you to all our judges - Joy Chaplin, Kaderin Mills, Huel Moss, Nancy Albury, Charles de La Baume, James Richard, Sabine Probst, Paula Lamm, Lauren Riviere, Stephanie Russell, Mardi Moss, Meredith Albury and Olivia Patterson Maura - and our sponsors - The Bahamas Environmental Protection (BEP) Foundation, Ministry of Environment & Housing, Kleen Kanteen and New Vision Ministries.  

Kenyon Centre Update

Blue holes help piece together the past
This month, researchers from Texas A&M University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have been partnering with the Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporation to study blue holes in North Abaco thanks to a grant from National Geographic. This is part of ongoing research to better understand climate change and past weather patterns. The group took a number of large core samples from the sediment at the bottom of several blue holes. The different layers of sediment and fossils found in the sediment give us clues to the water chemistry and environmental conditions of the time. The cores also tell the story of drought periods and the frequency of storm events (like hurricanes). The cores samples went deep enough that they were able to collect sediment from the Pleistocene era (AKA Ice Age) which extended from about 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 years ago. The blue holes still have a lot more stories to tell and we are looking forward to sharing more as the research progresses!

Richard Sullivan inspects a bisected core
Richard Sullivan inspects a bisected core from Abaco. Photo taken at Texas A&M University - Galveston by Nancy Albury. 


Reggae Night at Snappa's with 
Sailor Jane / Going Green!

We celebrated Snappa's 15 year Anniversary, FRIENDS' 30 year Anniversary and the announcement of Snappa's "Going Green" with reggae sounds by  Sailor Jane at Snappa's this month. It was a great night full of great music, dancing and raffle prizes! Congratulations to Snappa's for officially "Going Green" at their establishment. They have adopted compostable cups to replace plastic ones at the bar, and straws are only available upon request. They are also banning styrofoam, replacing styrofoam to-go containers with compostable ones.  Thank you, Snappa's for taking the steps toward a 
greener future!

Thank you to Sailor Jane & her band, Snappa's, Bahamas Compostables for helping Snappa's "Go Green", and all of our raffle sponsors for making 
this event possible. 

Follow Sailor Jane Music on Facebook here

Hope Town Turtle Trot

Locals and visitors of Hope Town worked up their Thanksgiving Dinner appetite at our annual Turtle Trot. Runners completed the 5k starting at Hope Town Harbour Lodge, going through North End and back, and afterwards the 1 mile fun run/walk was led by Hope Town Primary students. Some of our participants even dressed in costume! Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all who participated! We look forward to seeing you next year.

Special thanks to our sponsors: Hope Town Harbour Lodge, HG Christie Realty, The Thompson Group, Abaco Family Medicine, Hope Town Inn and Marina, Elbow Cay Properties, Firefly Resort, and Abaco Inn.

Turtle Trot race start.

turtle trot pirates

Upcoming Events:

This weekend!!
December 7th-9th
Combustion Music Hope Town Music Festival
A memorable three day long celebration of music and giving back to Abaco. Beneficiaries: FRIENDS, Hope Town Volunteer Fire Rescue, and Every Child Counts. Venues include: Hope Town Harbour Lodge, Harbour's Edge, Abaco Inn, and Hope Town Inn and Marina

We are still looking for partners, supporters, and volunteers for these community events. If you are interested in being involved in some way, please contact us!

Community News: 

Board Member Recognized
Congratulations to Mrs. Michelle Bailey, our newest Board member, on being awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow Humanitarian Award by the Rotary Club of Abaco!

Reusable Bags for a Cause
Skylar Ogden, a Hope Town Primary student, has created handmade reusable grocery bags to support The Bahamas' initiative to ban single-use plastics by the year 2020. She painted watercolors of animals and plants to celebrate the beautiful local ecosystem. The reverse side of the bag has a list of best practices and environmental regulations. This bag is perfect for your groceries or everyday use, (18" wide & 14" tall). 

By purchasing and using this bag, you will contribute to positive change and support environmental education programs for the youth of Abaco (All proceeds go towards Friends of the Environment). These bags will be on sale at the Combustion Music Hope Town Music Festival from December 7-9th for $15.00. Please contact us for more details.

We are thrilled to share Skylar's artistic talent while raising awareness about local ecosystems. Thank you Skylar! 


Need a quick reference to rules and regulations for Abaco's Marine Environment? Purchase one of our magnets for $10 to have a reminder on your fridge of responsible practices. Perfect for vacation rentals or for your own home! Magnets sold at our office in Marsh Harbour, or contact us

Did You Know? Corals are sensitive animals that have to produce a layer of mucous to protect themselves from disease and other threats. Touching them removes that protective layer and can cause physical damage as well. 

Project Coral - Cleaning Coral Nurseries
Project Coral - Cleaning Coral Nurseries
Next year we'll be releasing a 10 minute video about coral reefs, reef restoration, and what you can do to help protect corals!
Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for tips on how you can change your routine in simple ways to help coral reefs! Thanks to BEP Foundation for their support of Project Coral.

Abaco's Environment in Photos

Funky Fungi!

Zombie mushroom
This one, observed in Hope Town, is a member of the stinkhorn family. As the name suggests, it can be a bit smelly. This smell attracts flies who eat their spores and also help them by spreading the spores. Stinkhorn fungi serve a role in helping to break down organic matter and can be found growing around mulch or decomposing wood.
Kenyon Centre fungus on steps

This one, growing out of the steps at the Kenyon Centre is believe to be a type of jelly fungus. 

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