PBDA Marine Science Research Trip 2019 Cape Eleuthera Institute Island School, Bahamas

The beautiful blues of the Bahamian waters greet us as we begin our decent.

Just Arrived on the Island!

April 5, 2019

Today the 9th grade is traveling to the Cape Eleuthera Institute Island School located in the Bahamas. During their 5 day stay, they will gain a truely remarkable opportunity to participate in current marine research. Our ninth graders are up for the challenge, and eager to get their feet in the water and their research clipboards in their hands. We will be documenting the days events - so stay tuned to see what this once in a lifetime experience has in store for us!

Shortly after arrival the students were eager to explore the island. They were given time to explore the local marina where they saw beautiful nurse sharks, and sting rays.

Nurse Shark
The view of the marina. Swimming just a few yards ahead were the nurse sharks.

April 6, 2019

We began our morning in the octagon, a meeting place where we learn about what is in store for the day. This morning's lecture was on sustainability. Our instructor Tatum stressed that sustainability isn't just about the environment but includes economy and society. When all three (environment, economy, and society) are best planned for, we have a sustainable community - nation - world!

Morning lecture
Notes Peter and Isabella

We followed the morning lecture with a delicious island breakfast. At the island school they believe in community involvement and encourage a "togetherness" approach to everything from snorkeling to washing dishes. Up first for their shift in the dining hall was Peter and Isabella!

Dish CREW Isabella and Peter

Morning Activity

Sustainability Scavenger Hunt

I can't imagine a better way to learn about the island than with a scavenger hunt. The 9th grade went on a sustainability scavenger hunt of the campus. After breaking into teams they set off to find all the ways that the island school is considered a sustainable place to live.

The students identified several factors that make the island school's sustainable culture

Notes: Isabella & Peter



Tunnel Rock

After lunch we went snorkeling at Tunnel Rock. This site was chosen for the abundance of coral and rich habitat. Click on the link below to hear about the experience from Taylor and Madison.

NOTES Madison & Taylor

The quote challenge April 6

Each day the kids are challenged to find quotes on the island that they feel speak to them. Here is what we found today!

Danny's quote

"Sustainabilty is Meeting the needs of our present community without compromising the needs of the future generations"

Dhru's Quote

Explore the deep sea to reach the heavens

April 7, 2019

Today we started our day with breakfast at CEI, traveling by van to the campus. The views are beautiful!

Morning Activity

Mangrove Forest

After breakfast we went to a local mangrove forest, walked upstream against the current to then snorkle back with the current. The students were able to see the red and black mangroves and the number of fish and crustacens that abounded.

Notes Daniella & Lily

After walking against the current through the mangroves, we took a few mintes to sit and learn about the vital role they play in the ecosystem. Next, we snorkeled downstream with the current throught the warm waters in hopes of witnessing the amazing ife that abounds. Check out some footage of the day, below!

Afternoon Activity

Wet Lab Part I

After lunch we traveled across campus to the wet lab to learn about the coral research that they are conducting. The students were tasked with prepping the large tank so that the coral fragments could be transferred.

Coral Fragments at CEI
Danny and Dhru prepped the tank by cleaning the tank and adding fresh ocean water.
The frags were placed into a new tank!
Species of Coral Studied at CEI

The colored ribbons identify the different genets of coral. A genet is a coral of the same species but has a different genes. An anaolgy would be that you and your friends are all of the same species but you have different genotypes. meaning that you have different hair color, eye color etc.

Wet Lab Part II

While the tanks were being prepped, we had a unique and amazing opportunity to see the microscopic side of coral. Valeria, a coral scientist at CEI was kind enough to show us the coral larvae that she is proud to share that they were able to outplant 1,000 coral recruits!

These special googles allow us to see the coral larvae.

With the use of a blue light, the coral larvae can be seen.

Can you find the baby corals?

The most amazing photo!
This basket contains coral tetrapods that are used as sustrates for coral larvae to attach.

The quote challenge April 7

Each day the kids are challenged to find quotes on the island that they feel speak to them. Here is what we found today!

Parker's quote

"Take what you need, not what you want."

Ava's Quote

"You are your most sustainable resource."

April 8, 2019

Our morning began at 6:30am with a Run-Swim. Afterwards we were able to sit-in on student research lectures on Aquaculture and Coral Restoration.

Morning Activity

Aquaculture Gardens

Next we traveled tp the Aquaculture center on campus. The 9th grade went on a tour of the facility and learned how vital the system is for their sustainable culture at the island school.

Notes Parker and Ava


are the animals that produce wastes that supply nutrients to the lettuce.

The morning was spent working with CEI's Aquaculture team. The students literally got their hands dirty, rotating the beds of lettuce and cutting the fresh lettuce for the saladbar at lunch.

Next up was the farm where we delivered the scraps of lettuce left from the cuttings for lunch. There is very little waste at the island school. The chicken's were as excited to see us as we were to see them!

Afternoon Activity

Cotton Bay Beach Clean

Amazing to see such large amounts of plastic in such a beautiful place. After lunch we traveled to Cotton Bay to do a beach clean up. We were shocked to see so much plastic debris and microplastics.

This is an oil jug left from cruise ships.
We found 30+ plastic bags on the beach.
Within this rectangle all these pieces of plastic. Just on the surface was enough microplastic to fill the milk cap which was also part of the debris.
A half hour later.

The quote challenge April 8

Each day the kids are challenged to find quotes on the island that they feel speak to them. Here is what we found today!

Madison's quote

"Better to light one candle, than curse the darkness."

Taylor's quote

"Know your limits, Surpass them."

We ended the day with a Movie night. Tatum our education, brougth this fabulous film for the studnets to watch. It was emotionally inspriring to all of us.

Trailer Below

April 9, 2019


RUN-SWIM 6:30am



We began the late morning (8am) with a lecture on Coral restoration projects that are being conducted by CEI researchers in the feild. Lily Haines, coral researcher, explained the details of their research from fragging to outplanting, and spawning to larvae attachment. Following the presentation the studnets were ready to see what the research actually looks like in the feild.

Notes Lily and Daniella

Researcher Lily mentioned that when they travel to the reef to gather fragments that they generally look for goral species that are 20 feet apart to have a higher chance of differenty genotypes.


One way to identify happy, and healthy corals is to look at how fuzzy they appear. We were pleased to hear this because many of the corals in our tanks exhibit that description. This fuzzy appearance means that their polyps are open and they are feeding.

Can you tell which is the "happiest"?

Picture from PBDA's coral tanks

Morning Activity

Reef Snorkle

Following breakfast, we traveled out into the deeper waters where the team of scuba divers would begin their feild study. Their goal was to take samples of various genets of corals for furthur analysis back in their wet lab. Our students had the amazing opportunity to snorkle above the reefs, and observe the researchers at work. We also worked to gather the samples obtained for quick return to the lab.

For a glimpse of the reefchek out the video below

Researches worked to collect samples stony coral from the reef. The samples would be fragmented and placed in their tanks to gather larva from these parent colonies.

Afternoon Activity

Wet Lab Coral Fragging

Once back on land the students helped clean and prep the corals for the coral research team. Lily also explained the process in which they capture the larvae from the brooding corals to expose to varying attachment shapes for placement back on the reef.

New coral fragment weighted down in fresh ocean water.
Parker was uncharge of prepping the tank for our new coral fragments that we retreived earlier in the morning.
We learned the methods that they use to create an environment that allows the coral fragment to produce coral larvae.


Next we had the great pleasure of interviewing Lily Haines for the PBDA Coral Project Podcast. It was a real treat to interview such a passionate and kind steward of coral.

Available for download on iTunes

Dish Crew Lily and Daniella

Following our research afternoon, we traveled by van to High Rock where the students get to jump from a 30+ foot cliff into the waters below. Its a test of courage and an perfect culmination of the challenges and experienes that the week provided.

We concluded our last night with a bonfire, smores and a recap of the weeks high tide, low tide, and seashell.

High tide = your favorite part of the trip

Low Tide = something that challenged you

Seashell = Something you will take home with you when you leave the island school

The quote challenge April 9

Each day the kids are challenged to find quotes on the island that they feel speak to them. Here is what we found today!

Daniella's Quote

dont be afraid to give up the good from the great - prefontaine

Lily's Quote

Be the Change.

Now back in the classroom, our students have begun their taxonomy illustrations and observation wtite-ups for their feild guide!

Created By
Ashley Hollern

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