Thursday, July 4, 2019

Friends of the Environment June E-News


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Dear Readers,
 
We know it's summer time at FRIENDS when the campers arrive before 9am with lunch boxes and great big smiles that show their excitement. The hustle and bustle all morning is welcome, then they're off on a field trip. A few hours later, back from the mangrove field trip, there is lots of chatter as the little people return singing the mangrove song... did you know there are red, white and black mangroves? Coral reef is the next day, 4 kids that do not know how to swim saw beneath the surface of the sea for the first time. Bird watching in the pine forests and swimming in the blue hole to follow, all the while learning the importance of environmental conservation and why it's so important for us all to do our part. Camp is loads of fun and the messages are impactful! Thank you to all of you who have kindly contributed to FRIENDS to help make all of our education programs possible. Your donations are making a difference in Abaco's environment now and for the future.

Sincerely,

Cha Boyce
Executive Director 
Mind Your Meals!
You can be a sustainable consumer by ensuring that you only catch, purchase, and eat seafood that is in season and up to measure. Please support the closed seasons by choosing an alternative fishery (or protein source) during this time.

Crawfish Season is closed      Stone Crab Season is closed      (April 1st-July 31st)               (June 1st - October 15th)
Please note, use of compressors
for fishing is also prohibited
during this time. 

Photo credit (left): Tim Higgs, (right): Abaco Scientist

Program Update 

Summer Camps Begin!
The last week of June kicked off our summer camp programs, with our 6-9 year olds. We've named this camp "Ecosystems Camp", as campers learn about different ecosystems in Abaco as well as in the greater Bahamas. Ecosystems covered included mangroves, coral reefs, pine forests, blue holes, sandy beaches and rocky shores. We love welcoming our enthusiastic campers each day, learning from them and seeing them experience these ecosystems for themselves. We are looking forward to the remainder of the summer with more exciting camps ahead!
Follow our Facebook page for daily pictures of camp and albums at the end of each week.  

One of the campers favourite days of the week is Blue Hole day! Our 6-9 year olds cool off in Sawmill Sink Blue Hole after learning about blue holes and fossils.

Highlighting our Summer Interns: 
Morgan Bower and Christopher Johnson
We have hired two interns to assist with our summer camp programs for 6 weeks. They are both from New Providence and are interested in environmental education and conservation. Morgan Bower is a rising sophomore at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is studying Environmental Studies with a minor in sustainability. Christopher (Chris) Johnson is an avid birder, and is one of the administrators of the Bird Club of New Providence (BCNP). He is also a past participant in FRIENDS programs! Their passion for the environment shows daily with the campers. We are excited to have them in Abaco and look forward to the remainder of the summer with them. 
Kenyon Centre Update:

Sea Turtle Research
This past week a group of teen EarthWatch volunteers joined Annabelle Brooks and Beth Whitman of Tracking Sea Turtles in The Bahamas for some meaningful time on the water in the Sea of Abaco. The project is surveying turtle populations in nearshore waters throughout The Bahamas and investigating the occurrence of fibropappilomas (tumors) in turtles. Volunteers get to be hands on with the science and learn more about conservation in The Bahamas. We are grateful that they chose the Kenyon Centre as their home base for the summer and even more so that they are sharing their knowledge with us!
 
Earthwatch turtle group



Upcoming Events:

Traveling Summer Camps
We are expanding our summer camp outreach to Sandy Point and North Abaco! Camps will be offered for students ages 10-12 on a first come first served basis. If you are interested in signing up your child, please contact us!

Sandy Point, St. Martin's Anglican Church Hall
July 29th (9am - 3pm), July 30th (9am - 3pm), and July 31st (9am - 12pm)

Cooper's Town, SC Bootle High
August 6th (10am-3pm), August 7th (9am-3pm), and August 8th (9am-12pm)
Abaco Science Alliance Conference:
Call for Abstracts

We invite all researchers studying in The Bahamas to particiate in our upcoming conference (January 7-9, 2020). Researchers are invited to submit contributed papers and posters on research findings in natural history and environmental science of Abaco and The Bahamas. Papers and posters will be accepted based on their technical merit and contribution to our knowledge of species, populations, communities, ecological processes, management practices, conservation initiatives, education models or policy issues. Abstracts are due by October 25th, 2019. 
 
More details and submission forms available on our website, or contact us with questions.
Seeking Volunteer Artists for an Education Project

Seeking volunteer artists who would be interested in contributing small drawings and diagrams to a teachers guide on Bahamian ecosystems. You will receive credit for your artwork and have the satisfaction of being involved in a worthy project that reaches high schools all across the country! No piece of artwork needs to be more than 8.5x11 inches printed size. For more information, please email us!
Well Wishes!

We joined with other community partners to celebrate Kadie Mills, who has been a long time employee of The Bahamas National Trust (both in Nassau and Abaco) as she moves on to a new profession. She has contributed a lot to conservation efforts in the country and we know she will succeed in her next venture! Best of luck!

Kadie's party
Kadie Mills (center) surrounded by staff of FRIENDS, Bahamas National Trust, and the National Museum of The Bahamas.
Community News

Sands bottle recycling to start in Abaco!
Beginning on July 16th, Sands will be accepting beer bottle returns at the old Cost Rite warehouse in Marsh Harbour! Those interested in participating can take their Sands brand beer bottles in a beer box to the warehouse on Tuesday afternoons from 2-5pm. Bottles must be clean and not broken. You will receive a receipt for $1.50 credit/box which can be redeemed in cash at Jimmy's liquor store. 

Island School Symposium
We were happy to attend the spring symposium hosted by our partners at The Island School on Cape Eleuthera this month. It's always good to reconnect with like minded people who believe that environmental education is important now and for future generations. We toured the campus and discovered how they work in all aspects to live sustainably on campus and influence others to live sustainably.
At the Island School students learn about sense of place, are empowered to have a voice, and are encouraged to overcome personal challenges which all inspires a sense of confidence and self-worth....all while learning about the Bahamian environment and undertaking independent research!

Sea Turtles and Boat Strikes
In the past month, several sea turtles have been found dead in the Sea of Abaco due to being hit by boats and cut by propellors. Please be conservative with your speed and aware of sea turtles as they surface. There are more large turtles around now because it is nesting season. If you come across an injured or dead turtle, please report to The Bahamas Sea Turtle Network on Facebook or via BahamasSeaTurtleNetwork@gmail.com 
Sea Turtle boat strike
This female turtle was necropsied and was found to be otherwise healthy with a full stomach of sea grass (normal diet). Photo from Tracking Sea Turtles in The Bahamas.
Abaco's Environment: Nesting Sea Turtles

One of the first nests of the season on Elbow Cay, and the tracks tell all! A green turtle took a slightly meandering path up the beach to find "the right spot", dug a nest leaving a pit and a large spray of sand, and headed straight back to the ocean. Please be cautious of turtle nests when walking, digging, etc on the beach. Nesting season runs until November. 

If you find a turtle nest, please take a photo of the tracks and a note of the location and send to Friends of the Environment or the Bahamas Sea Turtle Network. We will be monitoring nesting 
success and keeping an eye on them as hurricane season progresses.
Green turtle nest Elbow Cay June 2019
Photo courtesy of Brittany Sweeting


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