OPEN DAYS AND SCHOOL TALKS
Although it is important for the Sharklab to gain knowledge from environment surrounding Bimini, it is also important that we share this knowledge with others. Since our first Open Day held in 2012, we have been regularly inviting local school children and classrooms from schools in North Bimini and around the Bahamas to join us at the Sharklab to learn about some of the animals and plants in and around Bimini. In doing so, we were able to tell the students about sharks, lionfish, lobster, conch, the Bimini boa, mangroves, and ecosystems.
Despite growing up on the island many of the students had never seen a shark before or even ventured into the mangroves. Therefore, open days are the perfect opportunity to expose them to the magical marine fauna and flora of their home and educate them about its importance both economically and ecologically.
During the open day, we showcase our semi-captive juvenile lemon sharks and discuss the importance of sharks to the marine ecosystem. We were also able to convey the importance of sustainable fishing practices regarding lobster and conch and can demonstrate the sizes that are suitable for harvest. This is a great way to get kids interested in the amazing marine life around Bimini and to even encourage kids to pursue marine biology as a career in later life.
In recent years, we have been lucky enough to do this in collaboration with Sharks4Kids and its founder Jillian Morris Brake, who has been heavily involved in the community with educating the local school children on the importance of Sharks of the Bahamas. We are extremely lucky to have her support and educational expertise in this endeavour.
The future of marine science and conservation lies in the youth and we are very excited to be playing an important part in the lives of potential future scientists.
GOOGLE-HANGOUTS WITH SHARKS4KIDS
Bimini Sharklab has been committed to expanding our outreach programs to audiences across the world. In recent years, we have been lucky enough to collaborate on many projects with Jillian Morris Brake from Sharks4Kids, a Florida based non-profit founded in 2012, with goal of helping to create the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure. The co-founders are Sharklab alumni and continue to collaborate with the lab to promote science, education and conservation.
For the past couple of years, we have been regularly hosting monthly google hangout sessions with Sharks4Kids, where we host an online interactive classroom presentation for kids to learn about shark science and some of the sharks of Bimini and even watch a live scientific work up of a shark. This is a great way of connecting easily with classrooms globally and getting school children excited about sharks and shark conservation.
SAVE THE BAYS
Bimini is the last mangrove fringed island on the western edge of the Great Bahamian bank, these mangroves are an essential refuge for a variety of marine species as well as providing protection and sheltering the coast line from hurricanes and storms.
In February 2019, we helped with a great project organized by Save the Bays with the local school children from Louise McDonald High School planting new mangroves in North Bimini Lagoon. Unfortunately, a lot of mangroves in Bimini have been cleared for new developments so projects like these are essential to protect these habitats. It is great to be able assist the community with projects like these.
BEACH/ROAD CLEAN UP
Bimini is well known for its beautiful beaches, mangrove forests and the vast marine life inhabiting the shallow waters around the island, all of these features bring tourists to the island all year round from around the globe.
With the influx of tourists, there is also an increase in litter present around the island,
it is important that the lab is involved with communities’ efforts to ‘Keep Bimini Clean.’ Thus, we regularly run beach and road clean ups to aid the community and keep the island looking pristine.
SPAY/NEUTER VET CLINICS
The Sharklab also plays a crucial role in stray prevention, including active participation in the island vet clinic that takes place every few months. For this clinic, the Sharklab assists in capturing feral cats and dogs around the island and assisting in spaying and neutering them. This ultimately helps prevent the feral animals from breeding, keeping homeless pets around the island at a minimum. In addition, the Sharklab has assisted with adopting out cats and dogs that would not have had homes otherwise. We seek out local strays to adopt as opposed to searching elsewhere. Preventative procedures like this help keep the island healthy and safe.
Earlier this year we hosted the first community BBQ at the Sharklab. The Sharklab is incredibly grateful to the local community in Bimini for the continual support they have provided the lab, staff and visitors over the years. We endeavour to be involved with community as much as possible thus hosting BBQs is a great way to mingle and get to know the locals, homeowners and tourists in Bimini.
We look forward to seeing more of the community at one of our events in the future!
TORTUGA MUSIC FESTIVAL - ROCK THE OCEAN - CONSERVATION VILLAGE
For the past couple of years, BBFSF has been lucky enough to attend Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Musical Festival as a partner in their conservation village. The Tortuga Music Festival was created to generate awareness and raise funds for ocean conservation, we are thrilled to be joining over 30 different organizations that are world leaders in conservation matters; from shark conservation to coral restoration. This is a great event to be part of and we are delighted to be involved and able to contribute to helping raise public awareness on a number of issues affecting marine conservation worldwide.
Each year the lab decides on a theme for our stall at the Conservation village, for example an issue affecting sharks in the Bahamas/Florida region or a misconception the public may have about sharks. Previous years themes have included responsible fishing, plastic pollution and sharks, public perception on sharks etc. These themes are a great way to address key issues affecting shark populations and convey this issue in a fun way to the public and get more people talking about sharks in a positive light.
With the proposals to change land based fishing regulations in Florida this year, for this year’s theme we want to find out if guests can successfully match different shark /ray species found in local waters to the correct IUCN red list status in a fun, educational game. Do you know which sharks are listed as endangered in Florida? Do you know which sharks are protected in Florida? Come visit our stall to test your knowledge.
The stand this year will also feature a number of fun activities that can really engage and excite the public about shark conservation including a shark tagging game and even an ultrasound game…. everyone likes a baby shark, right?
Are you going to Tortuga this year? If so stop by our tent at Rock the Oceans’ Conservation Village and give some of our activities a go!