The MSMC Team just wrapped up a great visit to the island of Eleuthera last week. As possibly the longest island in The Bahamas (100 miles?!), we did quite a bit of driving! It was well worth the effort though because we got to see some amazing sights and meet some amazing people along the way.
We started the week in North Eleuthera. There is quite a bit of conch fishing that still goes on in the waters south of the main land Eleuthera and in the bay to the north near Harbour Island. Most of this fishing is done to supply local conch salad stands and restaurants (or so we heard).
Our first stop was to Spanish Wells, a community on the island of St. George’s that is home to the largest commercial fishing fleet in The Bahamas. The boats from Spanish Wells are serious about crawfishing (or lobsters), but as Bahamians they love their conch too! We did a shorter version of the My Science! My Conch! program at the Spanish Wells All Age School because there were no middens to survey! Thanks to Principal Higgs for welcoming us to her school.
On Tuesday, we headed to Harbour Island for a full day program with 10th and 11th graders from Harbour Island All Age School. This was our biggest group scheduled for the week (30 students) and we were glad to find a midden conveniently located on the Bay Street near the school. We measured lots of shells and the students were real sports for walking to and from the midden! That evening, the MSMC team gave a brief presentation at the local library! Thanks to Principal Sands and Mrs. Simmons and the Friends of the Sir George Library for their support of the project and Conchservation!
By mid-week we were pretty happy to visit a school closer to our base in Governor’s Harbour. Palmetto Point is a neat and picturesque community just a 10 minute drive south and is the location of Central Eleuthera High School. There is not a lot of conching going on in the central Eleuthera area, so we were not certain if we’d find a good midden to survey. However, one of the students had already picked a great spot for us to go to, just down the road in Savannah Sound…another beautiful settlement! After our survey we returned to the classroom for debriefing and found that not only had the students been paying attention, but they already had some great ideas about how to create a sustainable conch fishery! Well done students of Central Eleuthera and many thanks to Principal Galanis, Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Johnson, and Robin of Fishbone Tours!
Our final day of MSMC in Eleuthera took us to Preston Albury High School in Rock Sound which is about an hour drive from Governor’s Harbour. For this full day program we had Tiffany Gray and Claire Thomas of the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) join us to take some notes and hopefully continue MSMC in the future! We found a lovely location by the water in Rock Sound for our midden survey, another conch salad stand location. The kids caught on quick and we were able to measure lots of shells, especially with Tiffany and Claire’s assistance! Thanks to Principal Jones for letting us bring MSMC to his school! There’s lots of conching going on there and now there are some conchologists!