Educational Outreach

 
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. In 2012, the sharklab, with the help of Bimini Sands, held it’s first ever, Open Day. This was a day that we opened the sharklab for the local school students to take a trip out to 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 our open day was 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. We showcased our semi-captive juvenile lemon sharks and discussed 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 demonstrated the sizes that are suitable for harvest. We talked about invasive species such as lionfish and how they can harm an entire ecosystems balance if left unchecked. Many locals are frightened of the Bimini Boa and we were able to change those fears into curiosity as we showed them how harmless the endangered Bimini Boa really is. The  sharklab was very excited to be an integral part in exposing these students to a world of knowledge just outside their front door.
 
 
The open day was an experience that made a valuable impact on both the students’ and the sharklab’s lives. Last year we performed two ‘open days’ involving Louise Mcdonald High School and Gateway School from North Bimini. The experience was such a great success that we plan to continue to offer many more open days in the future.
 
To add to the open days, for several years, the lab has attended career day for the local schools. A day that we set up a table and speak to the area youth about what the lab does and about going into Marine Biology as a career. We have even begun to accept career placement students, from the local schools, that are particularly interested in Marine Biology as a vocation.
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. 
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