Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Friends of the Environment April E-News

Established in 1988
April 2019
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Recently some of my friends vacationed here in Abaco. We had one of those epic days that only Abaco can provide. We went hiking under the shade of native trees on the Iron Cay Nature Trail, and snorkeling at Sandy Cay Reef where the sunlight angles just right to reveal vibrant corals and reef fish, turtles swim slowly past, a reef shark cruises by and the resident eagle rays glide by in unison. Reveling in the many shades of blue across the Sea of Abaco, we were also surprised by a pod of dolphins! That was yesterday, and my friends will be back again.  When friends visit Abaco it gives me the chance to spend a bit more time enjoying what we work so hard to protect.  Working together we can ensure that we will continue to have epic Abaco days and be able to share them with family, friends, and visitors in the future. Thank you for your continued support for FRIENDS and helping to share awareness for the importance of conservation and environmental education in Abaco.   I hope you all are also able to take time to enjoy what Abaco has to offer! 


Cha Boyce
Executive Director 

P.S. Take a look at our most recent hardcopy newsletter . It highlights our activities since Summer 2018. We're considering going entirely paperless. Let us know what you think! 

Crawfish Season is CLOSED 
(April 1st-July 31st)

During the closed season, spiny lobster (crawfish) mate and spawn to add to their population for future generations. Please respect the closed season for a sustainable fishery and support it by choosing an alternative fishery during this time. 
Please note, use of compressors for fishing is also prohibited during this time.

Photo credit: The Native Stew

Education Update 

Primary Schools visit from Long Island
Students from both Glinton's and Simm's primary schools in Long Island had the opportunity to go on a field trip with FRIENDS this month. We visited the mangroves at Camp Abaco and learned about the 4 types found in The Bahamas, importance of the ecosystem and some threats that they face, like invasive species.  We then visited The Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC)'s Natural History Museum at our offices, where students learned about fossils, artifacts and topography that make up our natural history here in Abaco. We hope they visit again soon!
(Left): Students learn about the mangroves from our Outreach Coordinator, Lianna Burrows. (Right): Students learn about the artifacts in the natural history museum from AMMC's Adrianna Swain. 

Earth Day Project Coral Video Showings
Thanks to support from the BEP Foundation, this week we launched our video "The Coral Reefs of Abaco: Our Future"! We chose to highlight coral reefs for Earth Day this year and the premiere of the video was the perfect way to culminate that effort. The video was well received by students and teachers! Monday April 29th was the first day of school showings, and since then, we have reached 4 schools and 1 after school program, totaling to 164 students! These 4 schools include grades 7-8 of Long Bay School, Patrick J. Bethel High, SC Bootle High, and St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, and our Eco-Scouts after school program. 
If you would like to host a showing at your classroom, please contact our education team

Students from Long Bay School and St. Francis de Sales Catholic School watching "The Coral Reefs of Abaco: Our Future!" and completing in the crossword puzzle to go along with the video afterward. 

Summer Camp:
Dates and Registration Forms posted
There are camps for ages 3-16! Space is limited and will be first come-first served. Download a form from our website or visit the office to register. 
Let us know if you'd be interested in sponsoring the commitment fee for underserved students! 

Campers getting ready to explore the reef during coral reef day at camp!

Kenyon Centre Update:

Shireen Rahimi: Graduate Student Resident

Shireen stayed at the Kenyon Centre with us as part of our pilot program to host a graduate student resident for a period of a few months. The idea is for a graduate student to stay at the centre and do their research to contribute to science being done in Abaco, and in return learn about sustainability at the Kenyon Centre as well as helping us at FRIENDS. Here is her story:

I came to the Kenyon Centre this spring as a visiting student, feeling brand new in a foreign place, and I left with a sense of perspective and community that helped both my project and my personal experience on this island. I am a fourth year PhD student at the University of Miami studying human interactions with lionfish on Abaco, using anthropology and photography/film methods. By starting my three month field season at the Kenyon Centre, I was able to make personal connections that are so important to social science research. But the most valuable time I spent at the center was spent working with FRIENDS staff to help run their outreach programs. We went on a field trip to the mangroves, made plastic as part of a lab exercise, finger painted crabs, and had dance parties to eco-themed songs. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense-learning about the environment with young people on Abaco gave me a solid foundation for my own excursion into the field, giving me the context I needed to dive deeper into what Abaco's marine landscapes look like, and what it looks like when Abaconians interact with them. My time at the centre was invaluable, and I thank the selfless, humble, committed, and loving Friends of the Environment staff for making it possible.

Shireen also helped when she could with our after school programs. One of her favourite programs was Sea Beans, our 3-6 year olds. The kids enjoyed the days she helped as well!
Taken by Shireen Rahimi. 

Bahamas National Trusts' National Park Day
On April 27th The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) celebrated National Park Day, a day to learn about and appreciated our designated protected areas in The Bahamas. National Parks around The Bahamas cover a wide variety of ecosystems-both marine and terrestrial. BNT hosted an event on several islands to celebrate. Our education team did a presentation for the Abaco event at The Marls National Park (hosted at The Bae Restaurant) on Bahamian Ecosystems. They covered ecosystems including pine forests, mangroves, coppice forests rocky shores, sandy beaches, and coral reefs. Over 150 people attended the event, many of them being kids. FRIENDS was happy to support our partners at this event. 
Learn more about National Parks in Abaco and around The Bahamas here. 

Some of our staff attending National Parks Day. (Left) Lyndeisha Curry, (middle) Lianna Burrows, (right) Ruth Albury. 

Upcoming Events:

Eco-Film Night at Hope Town Community Centre
May 10th, 6:30pm 
Join us for a showing of several Bahamian short films, including our new film "The Coral Reefs of Abaco: Our Future". St. James Youth Group will be selling popcorn. $5 donation for entry.
Get more details on our Facebook event page!  

Abaco Science Alliance Conference
ASAC 2020 save the date
Community News

Development Proposed for South Abaco
Friends of the Environment is not in favour of the Tyrsoz Ltd. Development in South Abaco as proposed (see information in the Tribune and Nassau Guardian). We are not against all development, however we can not support a proposal that puts Bahamian futures and our sensitive environment at risk. The areas proposed to be developed, namely Lantern Head and South West Point (near Soldier Road) have been recognized internationally as ecologically significant. Some of the most important resources that could be impacted include fresh water, our native Abaco parrots, endangered Kirtland's warblers, bonefish, corals, commercial scale-fish, whales and dolphins. We have joined with a group of environmental organizations and scientists to raise these concerns to The Bahamas Government and the Tyrsoz Group via letter. All concerns are supported by published research. We also want to make sure that you, our members, are kept up to date.
South Abaco map

2020 ban on single-use plastics and styrofoam 

Just a friendly reminder that the ban is coming! Items on the ban include plastic bags (point of sale), disposable utensils, straws, and styrofoam. The government is working on reducing duty on the sustainable options. 

Plant a tree! More trees reduces runoff going into the oceans and also means more carbon dioxide is being taken out of the atmosphere, which is beneficial to coral reef ecosystems. 
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:

Species Highlight: Abaco Parrot
Learn more about one of our endemic species below, 
existing only in Abaco! 

Abaco Parrot Photo credit: Rolling Harbour Abaco