Words by Baylie Fadool
Photos by Baylie Fadool and Chelle Blais
Jun 30, 2022
June! The month we have officially opened back up to the public! Read below to find out what this looked like and how you could come see us, too!
Shark Lab Open School Day
We kicked off our month of being back open to the public by having our first open day since 2019. Open days involve inviting a local school from North Bimini to come and spend the day with us doing various activities and getting to experience what South Bimini has to offer. Louise McDonald High School’s graduating senior class of 9 students with their teacher, Ms. Scott, came to the Shark Lab for a day filled with shark-y talks and a fun lunch involving ice breakers and future plans. The trip served as a reward for the students for all of their hard work throughout the years and during the pandemic. We were so happy to be a part of their end of year activities before graduating. They shared all of their next steps and dreams with us and are so thankful to have been able to spend the day with them. We wish them the best of luck with their endeavours and look forward to many more open days in the future!
After hosting the Open Day, we opened our doors the next day for tours! The Shark Lab was closed to the public for over two years, starting in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Our all new structure of tours include a short presentation on the history and research of the lab and then the chance to see baby lemon sharks on a beach behind our station. Tours that include young children get a fun, exciting experience that is tailored towards them as well! We had 4 different groups this month, each very curious with lots of great questions! It has been so great reconnecting and getting to meet so many of you this month. If you are interested in touring our facilities, head to this link to book your experience: https://www.biminisharklab.com/book-a-tour!
Bimini Island Tours
In addition to our regular tours, we have partnered with a company this month called Bimini Island Tours. Bimini Island Tours is led by Cleveland Maxwell Rolle Jr. “Max”, who is a local Biminite that was born and raised here. He has over 50 years of knowledge of the culture, people, and cuisine that make Bimini so special. This month, we had the opportunity to experience his North Bimini Island tour and learn more about this island that the Shark Lab calls home. We got to see how queen conch is prepared outside of Stuart’s Conch Shack, experience the beauty of Ashley Saunders’ Dolphin House Museum, and hear the tales of bonefishing and the mangroves from Ansil Saunders. The portion of the tour conducted on South Bimini includes a tour of the Shark Lab. If you are interested in visiting Bimini and would love a personalized tour like this one that allows you to really learn about the island that you are visiting, visit Bimini Island Tours’ website to book your experience today: https://www.tourbimini.com/.
University of Minnesota University Course
The University of Minnesota has been coming to the lab since 2008. It is a course called “Tropical Marine Biology” led by Dr. Peter Sorensen and Dr. Dean Grubbs. It is an intensive week-long field course that includes lectures on the taxonomy of the entire biodiversity of Bimini and the biology of elasmobranchs paired with daily excursions in the field. By the end of the course, the students should be able to identify all of the most common species found around Bimini from corals to elasmobranchs through photo identification. In addition to the students from the University of Minnesota on this trip, we were able to bring 3 Alf Thompson Memorial Scholars. The Alf Thompson Memorial Scholarship program aims to provide Bahamians with the opportunity to experience life at a field station with the Bimini Biological Field Station. It was a jam-packed week and a great way to end the month!
In between opening back up and hosting a course, we found the time to also build a new tool shed! It sits out front on our property where we will be able to store a lot of our field equipment and work on maintenance for the boats and vehicles. It will also store all of our dive equipment. Not only are we research assistants at the lab, but we are often required to wear other hats, and sometimes, this includes our hard hats!
We had a very busy and exciting month opening back up, and next month is filled with even more excitement! See you back here next month!