Grab your snorkel mask and strap on those flippers! We want you to help Earthwatch protect fish populations and create better marine reserves. Join our scientists in The Bahamas as they discover how mangrove creeks and coral reefs depend on each other.
The Bahamas are famous for their spectacular coral reefs and the sea creatures that call them home. Reefs support fishing communities, protect the shoreline, and attract tourism. But, they are just one important ocean habitat, there are also sea grass beds, mangrove creeks, and smaller patch reefs. All play crucial roles, and all are under threat from climate change, overfishing, and development. On this expedition, you’ll join researchers to determine how mangrove creeks and patch reefs interact to support a healthy coastal ecosystem in The Bahamas.
You’ll combine open water snorkeling tasks with maintaining fish nets at patch reef sites, monitoring mangrove creeks, and helping take biological samples from fish. You’ll also learn new skills like how to identify fish species, how to estimate the length of a fish underwater, and how scientists spot key fish behaviors. Volunteers stay at the Cape Eleuthera Institute, located on a quiet peninsula with many beautiful routes for walking or bicycling. The bulk of your time will be spent in the water – so solid swimming and snorkeling skills are a must!
Snorkeling, Boating, Cycling, Research
Help create better marine reserves and protect fish populations by discovering how mangrove creeks and patch reefs depend upon each other.
Tropical coral reefs are critically important ecosystems that host enormous biodiversity, support fishing communities, protect shorelines, and attract divers, snorkelers, and other tourists. But large coral reefs are only one habitat within tropical marine seascapes, which include sea grass beds, mangrove creeks, and smaller, lagoonal patch reefs. All play crucial roles, and all are under threat from climate change, overfishing, and development.
On this expedition, you’ll join researchers working with the Cape Eleuthera Institute to determine how mangrove creeks and patch reefs interact to support fish populations and the overall health of the coastal ecosystem in The Bahamas. You’ll pay particularly close attention to the life cycle movements of fish from sea grass bed and mangrove creek nurseries to patch reefs. You’ll help discover whether having more and higher quality natural mangrove creeks near patch reefs boosts fish populations--especially key species like parrotfish and grouper--, and whether poor quality habitats cause stress to these fish populations that in turn affect the rest of the food chain. The data you collect will help inform marine reserve management policies.
You’ll learn how to identify fish species and estimate length underwater and to spot key behaviors in both natural and aquarium settings. You’ll combine open water snorkeling tasks with maintaining fish nets at patch reef sites, walking along and taking various measures of mangrove creeks, and helping take biological samples from fish in the field and in the lab. You’ll learn how to measure water flow rates, width, and depth in the mangrove creeks, and to conduct fish surveys. You’ll help search for, tag, measure, and monitor fish along the patch reefs and mangrove creeks. The bulk of your time will be spent in or near the beautiful waters, creeks, and reefs of Eleuthera Island, so good swimming and snorkeling skills are a must.
The main additional costs will be your transport expenses to and from the rendezvous site. This means that airfares are not covered by your contribution. Additional costs may include passports, visas, airport taxes, and the costs of any side trips made before or after the expedition or on recreational days. Some expeditions have additional in-country travel costs to reach the research site
The price of each project, which we call your contribution, covers all the costs associated with planning and managing our research projects, as well as preparing volunteers for their field experience with professional support, including a comprehensive pre-project briefing. Your contribution covers your food, accommodation, on-site travel, 24-hour emergency medical and evacuation insurance , carbon offsets, expert on-site training and field orientation, and components of the field research cost such as field permits and equipment. Support for these additional items ensures that your contribution will live on long after you have returned from the field.
Meals and Accommodations
You’ll stay at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) research facility in single-sex, dormitory-style rooms, each hosting up to eight volunteers. Each dormitory contains bunk beds and basic shelving, electric ceiling fans, lights, and 110v outlets; your bedding will be provided. Wireless internet access is available, but bandwidth may be limited. Telephone and fax services are also available. You’ll have a shared bathroom with multiple shower stalls and sinks, and hot water.
You’ll eat your morning, midday, and evening meals in a central dining area (also used by other staff and researchers present at CEI at the time), enjoying a mix of American, Bahamian, and Caribbean fare prepared by local cooks, and you’ll take part in basic clean-up duties. Vegetarian options are available at every meal and other diets can be accommodated with advance notice. Drinks and snacks (which can be purchased from the adjacent Cape Eleuthera Resort & Yacht Club) can be kept cool in a large communal fridge.