“We want the kids to understand and critically think about why the research is important” – Jack Bliss, Gap Year Program Coordinator.

Students in our Gap Year program are able to learn about the wildlife and ecosystems on Eleuthera through a dedicated, week-long course with local and international experts. No two days are the same during Marine Ecology Week, and here are just some of the activities our Fall ’19 class enjoyed:

Running a mock stakeholders event for a marine protected area.

Splitting into groups and acting as local fishermen, the tourism board and visiting education programs, our students learned about the importance of each stakeholder and how they affect the area.

Learning how to map out a dive site.

Our students learned how to count their kicks and look at their surroundings in order to map a dive site as accurately as possible. The group later used these maps at the end of the week during their night dive.

Understanding Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs).

Our Gap students also learned about Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs). They were able to go out in the field and deploy cameras onto the FADs in order to record the pelagic life aggregating in and around the area.

Turtle research (under CEIs scientific permit).

Under CEI’s scientific permit, the students were fortunate to participate in turtle research off the coast of Eleuthera. This included catching the turtles with a seine net before documenting their weight and measurements as part of on-going research at CEI. “It was really cool to see how the researchers work with the turtles and be a part of that” – Juliet Homes, Fall ’19 Gap Student.

Conch education.

Conch are an important species for the Bahamian ecosystem, for fisheries and for cultural reasons. During Marine Ecology Week, our Gap students were able to learn more about the shells from local fisherman, Nehemiah. “It’s interesting and fascinating to understand what his culture is and his livelihood and how he relies on the ocean to survive and to feed his family” – James Lattanzio, Fall ’19 Gap Student.

Coral research.

On their final day of Marine Ecology Week the students were able to learn about the current coral research and restoration being done on campus. They were able to dive to one of our coral sites and use their earlier learning to identify species in the water.

Our Gap Year students are fortunate to participate in an abundance of research, learning and life experiences throughout Marine Ecology Week, making it one of the most enjoyable and highly regarded weeks of the entire program.