By: Korinna Garfield, Sam Hastings, Atalanta von der Schulenburg, Maggie Bland, & Nathaniel Millard

Hello! We are team Patch! On this research project we are looking at the spatial and temporal abundance of fish species in Eleuthera, here in the Bahamas. Patch reefs are transitional juvenile habitats for fish after their early life in mangroves. One of the main reasons we are conducting this research, is to see if it is necessary that an MPA be established near Cape Eleuthera, based upon the fish population and habitat trends in the area. We hypothesize that patch reefs will have a higher fish biomass the closer they are to mangroves, there will be an increase in lionfish (an invasive species), and that in general the fish populations will be similar to past years because there has been little change in fishing regulations. Over the past month or so we have been learning all about patch reefs and their inhabitants. When we go out in the field we count the number of different fish species. Nathaniel and Maggie are in charge of parrotfish, wrasse, stingrays, and sharks and Sam, Lanti, and Korinna are in charge of angelfish, butterfly fish, surgeonfish, squirrelfish, groupers, and lionfish. We count and size the fish in our specific group as well as taking other measurements of the reef. We photograph the algae vs. coral coverage and measure length, width, depth, and rugosity (which is a measure of how complex the coral structure is).

We all have been having a great time out snorkeling in the sea, and are all experts at identifying fish. We can’t wait to see the results of our study and present our information at Parents’ Weekend and the Research Symposium later in the year!