The end of our Summer II program is quickly approaching, and students are busy working on their final research projects. Their questions will assess the performance of the East Harbour and Lobster Conch Reserve in protecting reef assemblages. Students collected data on fish and invertebrate abundance, species richness (fish and coral), reef structure and function. Study breaks are spent snorkeling off the dock, visiting with community members, and exploring the island.
Despite many of the community kids being off island for the summer, our Saturday Outreach program has been full and exciting. This week we made turtles from egg crates and learned about electricity and how it works. The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies (CMRS) has seen a number of visitors this summer including Cardiff University scientists working with faculty on food safety issues in the TCI and Principal Bowen from the local high school who spoke to student about changing times on South Caicos. We even had a visit from HQ staff who joined students in the field capturing and measuring turtles and exploring our local reefs.
Our last week is shaping up to be very busy with research excursions and community activities. Thanks again to everyone who sent sneakers and cleat (and balls and jerseys) to TCI this summer – the community kids are putting everything to great use. End of Summer II also means the wrap up of our Waterfront Interns who arrived last August. But not without a last visit to several of the smaller, uninhabited islands to identify turtle nesting activities and measure beach profiles.
TCI has seen a number of resource management changes this summer: turtle landing regulations have been implemented and finfish regulations are being proposed and discussed. The current topic of conversation at the docks and at evening gatherings is the proposed closing of the conch export fisheries.
As the Center Director, I don’t get to participate in field exercises or faculty research as much as I would like. Last week I joined a student group capturing and tagging turtles. This is done at night. This little fellow is a recapture and the first to try one of our new tags that records depth and temperature. This will help us better understand what turtles do and how they use our local ecosystems.