Preserving the environment of Abaco, The Bahamas through education, conservation and research facilitation. Established in 1988.
Environmental Education Online:
Adapting to Virtual Needs
We are currently approaching the re-opening date for schools in The Bahamas. Due to COVID restrictions, schools are set to re-open virtually on October 5th. Hopefully, hybrid models will begin near the end of the year or at the beginning of next.
FRIENDS' education model has always been to support classroom education with hands-on experiences and field trips to help build connections to our environment. This is a bit of a challenge with virtual education! Our Education Team is not daunted, however! They have been researching ways to develop virtual field trips for our local ecosystems so that Abaco's students don't miss out. Virtual field trips will take students to some of our favourite ecosystems and field trip sites, including Snake Cay, part of the East Abaco Creeks National Park. Snake Cay is our first "test site" for a virtual field trip and is an ideal spot for educating about mangroves as we will be able to demonstrate what a mangrove ecosystem looks like and easily highlight the four species of mangrove found in The Bahamas.
Our Outreach Coordinator and Education Officer snapped some photos and videos of mangroves in Abaco to share with students in the virtual classroom. Enabling teachers to download this material will allow us to share even if we have internet/connection issues during a virtual class visit.
We've also digitized programs that we'd like to introduce in schools as soon as possible, such as our WASH & DRY (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Disaster Recovery) program.
Our hope is that by providing virtual programming and content that overlaps with The Bahamian curriculum we can help teachers navigate these challenging times.
Changing Seas Event on PBS
"Hurricane Dorian: Impacts Below the Surface"
FRIENDS was invited along with the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation and the Perry Institute for Marine Science to participate in their "Changing Seas" virtual event on September 30th. This event focused on how Hurricane Dorian impacted our marine environment. FRIENDS presented on marine debris. We were honored to be invited to speak and raise awareness on the environmental challenges that have arisen post-Hurricane Dorian.
Watch the recorded version here:
Solar replacement progress at FRIENDS
FRIENDS recently received a grant from the United Nations Development Program Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program (UNDP GEF SGP) to assist FRIENDS with hurricane recovery and resiliency. Specifically, we are setting out to replace the solar panels and inverters that were damaged by Hurricane Dorian, while working to incorporate ways to build capacity in the community in the renewable energy sector. Working alongside our contractors, Engineered Electric Services, we will be offering two month paid apprentice positions for two young Abaconians who are interested in investigating solar as a future career. Learn more and apply here.
An integral part of the support from this grant is helping to share what we have learned through this experience, so that you can also benefit. So please stay tuned! We are excited to move forward with this project as part of our rebuild and new goals for community education.
Environmental Highlight: Moving forward with Marine Debris Assessments
While some of the most pressing navigational hazards have been addressed, there is still a large amount of debris in Abaco's waters. Moving forward, prioritization of debris removal will be essential in addressing this problem and making most efficient use of available resources. To further our efforts in debris data collection and partner coordination, FRIENDS has teamed up with Juliette Deal of UNDP to assist in conducting marine debris rapid assessments. Juliette has been instrumental in coordinating hurricane debris management in Abaco over the last year and her expertise is invaluable. Our Education Officer, Lyndeisha Curry, has participated in assessments for Elbow Cay, Tilloo Cay, Lubbers Quarters, Marsh Harbour harbour and Green Turtle Cay, with plans to go as far north as Grand Cay in the coming weeks.
You can help! Do you know of any locations around Abaco that have a large amount of marine debris? Let us know here.
Sunken boats are a common item found during these assessments. Pictured is one sunken in a mangrove ecosystem. Photo credit: Juliette Deal
National News: Oil Drilling on the Horizon?
The Bahamas Petroleum Company has been granted five licenses for exploratory oil drilling within The Bahamas' exclusive economic zone. Drilling was expected to commence earlier this year, but was delayed due to COVID-19. If the company does not drill by the end of 2020 their licenses will expire. The prospect of drilling in Bahamian waters is extremely concerning with implications for the entire region. Fishermen are one of the groups speaking out about potential impacts to their industry and way of life (not to mention our food source!). We encourage everyone to learn more about what is proposed, the dangers of oil drilling in The Bahamas, and how you can use your voice to help protect The Bahamas from oil drilling.