You can hammer on kids all day, in the classroom, about how over-fishing, pollution and unsustainable development are destroying ocean environments—especially flats. But in order for those lessons to sink in, it helps to get students’ feet in the sand with a bonefish in hand. At least that was the goal of a recent bonefish tagging and genetic sampling field trip hosted by the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust in Grand Bahama.
Justin Lewis, BTT’s Bahamas Initiative Manager, was invited by Nicole St. Pierre, the geography teacher at Lucaya International School, to speak to her two grade 12 classes. During his presentation Lewis highlighted the economic and cultural importance of the flats and bonefish to the Bahamas, the history of bonefishing in the Bahamas, bonefish ecology, and the research that BTT and collaborators are doing to help conserve bonefish and their habitats.
Following the lesson, BTT took students on a field trip to a local flat to participate in its bonefish tag-recapture program and genetics study. Using seine nets the group scooped 38 bonefish. Eleven were recaptures that already had tags in them from previous tagging efforts. Students fin clipped all the bonefish and inserted dart tags into untagged fish.
“Having students participate in research such as this gives them perspective into what it is like to be in the field of marine science, which might appeal to some of the students as they prepare to head off to college. More importantly, it allows these young students to see and experience the vital bonefish habitat found all around the Bahamas, and hopefully that experience has given them a greater appreciation and awareness of its fragility and importance.”
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.