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Nature Detectives Camp Explores Island Mysteries

Campers measuring the salinity (salt content) of the water.
Campers measuring the salinity (salt content) of the water.

Friends of the Environment’s last camp of the Summer for Central Abaco, themed “Nature Detectives,” was held the week of July 25. A group of seven young adults, led by Education Coordinator Cassandra Abraham, participated in solving mysteries found in the various habitats of Abaco.

From mangroves to the beach, pine forest to rocky shores, the young detectives analyzed the salinity of habitats to determine the population of fish on man-made reef balls or to assess the level of dissolved oxygen in various depths of a blue hole.

The group’s first trip brought them to Camp Abaco, a mixed area of mangroves, beach, and rocky shores where the implant of a culvert a few years ago had restored the flow of water from ocean to mangrove habitat. There, they tested algae coverage on the bottom and salinity of the water near the culvert, deeper in the mangrove swamp and then in the ocean to compare the results.

The Nature Detectives visited Mermaid Reef on their second day. The assignment was to count the species of fish on man-made reef balls to determine if fish were more abundant around one single ball or around reef ball groupings of two or more balls. It was a welcome adventure that allowed the participants to cool down from the heat on land, as they deducted that fish like groupings better.

Another experiment allowed the campers to snorkel in cooler waters, this time at the Sawmill Sink blue hole. The aim of the field trip was to measure the dissolved oxygen in the water on surface level and at a depth of 7-feet.

According to DaShane Knowles, FRIENDS’ summer intern, a special kit was used for the experiment that showed that the dissolved oxygen concentration was greater on the surface water.

On the fourth day, the group returned to Camp Abaco, this time to estimate the biodiversity on a rocky shore. Various zones were studied including the splash zone on top of the rocks, high-tide zone, mid-tide zone, and low tide zone. According to Knowles and confirmed by Abraham, the data showed that there was more biodiversity on the low tide zone, which is the area covered by water most of the time. A variety of organisms such as chitons and snails were noted.

The last day of camp was dedicated to giving back to the environment. The group cleaned and cleared up the trail at the back of Friends of the Environment’s headquarters and collected trash at Crossing Beach.

Abraham, a native of Grand Cay, also conducted a three-day camp on her island on August 2-4 for the benefit of the local children. She mentioned that altogether a total of 63 students participated in the camp.

The camp in Grand Cay studied sharks on the first day. Abraham says on the second day 52 children, the largest attendance, learned about ecosystems and endemic and invasive species. On the third day, it was give back time, focusing on the importance of not littering and not polluting.

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