BREEF News

Letter to the Editor- Hoping We Choose A Sustainable Future

Editor, The Tribune.

I am Promise Russell, and I am a Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholar. This programme aims to train youth like me into becoming the next generation of environmental stewards.

My love for the ocean existed from a young age. At the beginning of 10th grade I went on my very first snorkel in the ocean. The beautiful variety of marine life around me and the weightless feeling of the water enveloping my being made me fall in love with the oceanic world. Around this time I became a lot more aware of environmental issues surrounding us.

There’s a special beach in West Grand Bahama where I lived, my family would go there often. You can see many boats like cruise ships, mail boats and sadly oil tankers come in from here. Over time I saw ship traffic increase and people visiting the beach and tourism decrease.

I wonder why oil spills are tolerated, especially in our country where we rely on our reefs for protection and income. I realize it’s because most Bahamians do not know the effects of an oil spill to our marine environment and just how crucial our ocean is to our survival.

Oil is a deadly substance, I’m sure no one would want to ingest it accidentally while swimming.

So why would marine life? Bahamian waters are home to many species that beach for air, such as whales, turtles, and dolphins. Also, sea birds which sometimes dive into or lay on top of the water.

These animals do not know the dangers of ingesting oil until it is too late. It affects their immune system, their lungs, and their reproductive ability.

Tiny fishes can also accidentally ingest oil while trying to eat phytoplankton (microscopic algae/plants) and zooplankton (microscopic animals) which are on the surface of the water. If these marine animals do survive ingesting oil they are then eaten by a predator or bigger fish, which in turn are eaten by their predator. Soon, these infected species are eaten by us, the top of the food chain.

The Bahamas isn’t the only place oil spills can and have occurred. Because all of our oceans are connected we are all affected by any oil spill.

Also, we are experiencing more frequent and intense hurricanes, sea level rise, coral bleaching, blazing temperatures, and toxic food.

All these things are results of Climate Change and use of fossil fuels.

This is not an ideal situation if the health of the Bahamian people and the tourists in our waters are a priority.

One huge oil spill that happened in Grand Bahama during Hurricane Dorian was the oil spill from South Riding Point, which has still not been cleaned up completely.

At the time of this spill, I and many other Bahamians were not aware of just how devastating this was.

This week there is a gathering of world leaders called COP 26, which is short for Conference of Parties. Here leaders from across the globe will discuss issues stopping their countries from curbing emissions of CO2 and other harmful gases. This is one of the most important gatherings to Combat Climate change because those in charge of doing something about it can finally put their heads together and get it done. Our job is to make sure our leaders know and understand the importance of protecting our ocean and marine life.

How can we ask other countries for financial support to combat climate change when we are not using our provided renewable energy?

The future of our country is in our own hands and I hope that we will choose a sustainable future and not a disastrous one that we will not be able to come back from.

I implore my Bahamian people, especially my fellow youth, to protect the ocean that takes care of us. For when it is gone, it is gone for good.

No amount of money can bring back a dead ocean.

This is our responsibility as citizens of this nation and children of this earth.

PROMISE RUSSELL

Nassau,

November 11, 2021.

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BREEF Underscores Safeguarding Bahamian Biodiversity at its 2021 Virtual Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators Workshop.

Under the theme, Safeguarding Bahamian Biodiversity, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) held its second virtual Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators Workshop to promote the importance of protecting biodiversity and environmental sustainability in The Bahamas.  The   Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme is part of Eco-Schools Global, the largest sustainable schools programme in the world, supporting student environmental leaders in over 68 countries. 

During her opening remarks Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF’s Executive Director said, “To date, BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme has grown from seven schools in the pilot programme to 38 government and private schools including four schools that registered during theCovid-19 pandemic.  Safeguarding Bahamian Biodiversity is a priority because it is essential to protecting our wellbeing and way of life in The Bahamas.”

Photo 1: Deep Creek Middle Schools student displaying her surgeonfish project in their School Without Walls programme 

The annual workshop was convened again this year from October 6-8th and included  three expert speakers who shared their knowledge and advice about Bahamian Biodiversity.  Dr. Nick Higgs, Director of Research and Innovation, Cape Eleuthera Island School kicked off the event with a comprehensive presentation on “Marine Biodiversity.”  Dr. Higgs concluded his presentation by saying, “One of the best things we can do to protect biodiversity is supporting the creation of Marine Protected Areas.”

Photo 2: Former  Eco-Schools Coordinator, Mr. Patrick Douglas (1st right) and students of C. I. Gibson Senior High School keeping our oceans clean through beach clean ups 

During day two, participants learned about the significant relationship between taxonomy and conservation from Dr. Ethan Freid, Botanist at The Bahamas National and Trust Leon Levy Plant Preserve, in Governor’s Harbour Eleuthera.  Dr. Freid’s presentation entitled, “Plant Diversity and the Lucayan Archipelago,” highlighted the evolution of plants, and the importance of plant biodiversity globally and in the Lucayan Archipelago in particular (The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands).

Photo 3: Students at Bishop Michael Eldon School promoting gardening through a seedling sale 

Dr. Selima Hauber, Agricultural Education and Outreach Officer for the Centre for Training & Innovation,  One Eleuthera Foundation was the final keynote speaker on day three.  Dr. Hauber’s inspiring  presentation, “Re-embracing heritage crops to achieve food security and improve health in a warming climate,” examined the impact that lifestyle choices, like diet, has on our health and the benefits of growing and consuming Bahamian heritage crops.  “It was a pleasure to share this information with our nation’s educators, and I am grateful to BREEF for its long-standing role in education!” said Dr. Hauber.

Photo 4: Harbour Island Green School students enjoying healthy lunches to help achieve their Healthy Living 

Eco-Schools goal

Asked about what she thought of the event, Hazel Collette-Adams, Eco-Schools Bahamas’ newest coordinator from The Beacon School on Grand Bahamas said, “Excellent information-rich presentation.  Awareness is the first step to ignite action to safeguard Bahamian biodiversity.”

According to Kevin Glinton, BREEF’s Education Coordinator and Eco-Schools Bahamas National Operator, “I am privileged to work with an awesome group of dedicated and inspiring educators and volunteers who continue to pursue excellence in environmental education and environmental stewardship in our children.  Throughout this pandemic, they have shown their resilience and  adaptability by embracing many challenges and turning them into opportunities for creativity and learning.” 

BREEF has been running Eco-Schools in The Bahamas since 2009.  Eco-Schools Bahamas is part of the international award programme developed in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education.   The Eco-Schools Bahamas programme promotes environmental stewardship by creating an awareness of local and global environmental challenges.  Through a  simple,  seven-step process  Eco-Schools empowers children to take action for the environment  by engaging them in fun,  action-oriented learning, and community outreach activities.  Presently, BREEF’s network consists of 38 government private schools spread over six islands of The Bahamas.

Schools interesting in learning more about Eco-Schools Bahamas and how to register can call BREEF’s office at 242-327-9000 or email ecoschoolsbahamas@breef.org 

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MY ALIV, MY ISLAND

BREEF and ALIV Bahamas teamed up to combat plastic pollution by conducting an impactful beach clean-up this past Saturday. 

Plastic pollution in the ocean has become a global problem for both humans and marine life. BREEF’s community outreach programme assists organizations and schools get involved protecting and restoring the ocean.

Beach clean-ups are just one part of the solution. In order to achieve a true change we must stop the use of unnecessary single-use plastic items and packaging by opting for sustainable alternatives.

It is going to take all of us working together across private and public sectors along with the general public to see the change that’s needed to stop coastal and marine pollution for good.

For more information on how you can help protect and restore our ocean please contact breef@breef.org.

#breef242 #alivbahamas #beachcleanup #restore #protect #coralreefs

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BREEF’s ‘Restore Our Ocean, Protect Our Future’ Short Film Makes Waves with Rolex Perpetual Planet

BREEF is thrilled to join ocean heroes such as Dr. Sylvia Earle as Rolex highlights BREEF’s work to protect coral reefs through the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative. BREEF’s award-winning short film is now featured on the Rolex.org website.

Coral reefs are under serious threat and are especially vulnerable to warming waters due to human-induced climate change. Globally, 80% of live corals have died in the last 50 years. Human actions have already caused 1C of this global warming which has resulted in impacts such as the climate-fueled Hurricane Dorian. If global warming exceeds 1.5C, small island states, particularly low-lying archipelagic nations like The Bahamas, will be even more at risk.

Restoring and protecting coral reefs is very important for the health of the marine environment and our livelihood. A structurally diverse reef can provide a multitude of habitats for species. Healthy reefs also reduce wave energy by 95%, protecting our coasts during major storms.

“We are honoured  to be recognised  by Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Initiative as we share the wonders of the underwater world with children who live in our archipelago. Through our Eco-Schools programme we are  able to reach young people in The Bahamas and around the world and inspire local and global action. We are working on the ground to protect and restore our coral reefs and the tremendous biodiversity they contain. This short film is an inspiration and a reminder to us all of our responsibility to protect the marine environment especially in the face of a changing world.” -Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF Executive Director.

In addition, the inspiring short film highlights the BREEF Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden & Coral Nursery.  The garden is home to “Ocean Atlas” – the world’s largest underwater sculpture and it is used as an underwater classroom, created to draw attention to the threats facing our coral reefs, and to drive action to protect them.

To learn more about how you can help restore and help protect our precious marine ecosystems, visit https://breef.org/index.php/donate/adopt-a-coral/

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World Cleanup Day; BREEF Partners with Love Brand & CO

BREEF teamed up with LOVE BRAND & Co. to combat plastic pollution by conducting a beach cleanup.


Love Brand & Co is a proud member of ‘1% For the Planet’ movement. Each year they support conservation initiatives helping ensure the survival of some of the most vulnerable species and habitats on earth. 

Every year thousands of tons of garbage winds up in the oceans, with at least 60% of that being composed of plastic material. Plastics, especially, last a very long time in the ocean and are in such abundance that there are 46,000 individual pieces of plastic litter for every square mile of ocean! 

Plastics are extremely hazardous to marine life, coral reefs and negatively impacts tourism, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Bahamians.

Because the oceans are in such a dire situation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has seen fit to organize The Ocean Decade for the 2020s. This effort educates and coordinates individuals, governments and corporations to work together toward cleaning up the oceans in a variety of ways.

Together we can all take an active role in the preservation and conservation of our marine ecosystems.

If you would like to join BREEF and communities around the world taking action against plastic pollution, download BREEF’s Beach Cleanup Guide and organize your very own cleanup today!


#breef242 #lovebrandco #coastalcleanup #worldcleanupday #communityaction #togetherwecan #climateaction #bluebahamas

Source: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/coastal-cleanup-day/

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The Queen Conch- A Bahamian Treasure with an Updated Scientific Name


The Queen conch is important to Bahamian culture. It has been used for centuries for food, decoration, jewelry, bait for fishing, and even as a musical instrument.

A Bahamian treasure by any name, its scientific name is now Aliger gigas, originally known as Strombus gigas or more recently as Lobatus gigas. Periodically species can be renamed when further information becomes available for their reclassification. Aliger is a genus of sea snails, marine
gastropod mollusks are in the family Strombidae.

Sadly, conch populations around the region have collapsed due to over-harvesting and harvesting of juveniles. Conch is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITIES). The Bahamas is actively working to protect the country’s conch population for
current and future generations. As a reminder to all fishers, a conch must have a well-formed, flared lip to be harvested. We ask the public to support Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that serve as replenishment zones, and only
purchase and consume sustainably harvested seafood.

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BREEF Partners with AimHi Earth; Offering FREE Access to Climate Education.

BREEF is pleased to announce their partnership with AimHi Earth to offer free access to the empowering, solutions-focused course, ‘Climate, Nature, and how to make a difference.’ 

 “At BREEF, we believe that an educated and aware public will call for action to protect the world around us. We are delighted to be able to collaborate with AimHi to offer this free online course to Bahamian schools and children of all ages,” says Kevin Glinton, Eco-Schools Bahamas National Operator.

With 95% of our territory underwater, and our highest point reaching only 206 feet above sea level, The Bahamas and our fragile ecosystem are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our Bahamian youth to connect with other like-minded students from different countries and discuss solutions to national and global environmental issues.” Allison Longley, Young Reporters for the Environment National Operator.

Backed by the likes of the United Nations Environment Programme, the University of Cambridge and Dr. Jane Goodall, this course brings together the expertise of top-level scientists and educators and incorporates a deep understanding of behavioral psychology, accessible and relatable narratives and a clear focus on solutions and what can (and must) be done. 

Sign up for the 4-part course, streaming live and online at 2 pm EST on Mondays starting 20th September:  http://aimhi.earth/climate-course
Use promo code BREEF at checkout for a free ticket! 

*This offer is available to all Bahamian students, educators, and to all students globally affiliated with the Eco-Schools and Young Reporter for the Environment programme.

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BREEF Presents 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, our First Ever Online Auction!

Click image to visit Online Auction website

BREEF is happy to announce 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, our first ever online auction! Through this fundraising initiative, we aim to raise funding enabling us to continue our ongoing education and research programmes. Dollars raised through the online auction help to support present and future generations of students, families, scientists, educators and guardians helping to preserve our precious oceans and coastlines.

We are inviting you to share BREEF’s love for the beautiful Bahamian oceans by buying a ‘virtual ticket’ and holding your own special COVID-safe dinner (following locally relevant COVID restrictions).

The ticket donations replace funds we would normally raise through attendance tickets at our BREEF Ball and instead go directly to support our ‘Adopt a Coral’ initiative, growing and nurturing our two coral nurseries at the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and on the Andros Great Barrier Reef.

The virtual tickets are available to purchase now on our ‘Virtual Ticket’ page.

The online auction goes live on World Oceans Day (Tuesday, June 8th 2021) and closes on Wednesday June 30th! We encourage you to bid on these generously donated items.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT ONLINE AUCTION WEBSITE!

For information about the auction items and delivery (if relevant) please contact events@breef.org.

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BREEF Kicks Off World Oceans Month with Release of New Beach Cleanup Guide

With the release of a new guide providing best-practices and tips to host effective beach cleanup events, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is encouraging local businesses to be responsible corporate citizens and embrace the important role they play in the sustainable future of our ocean.

World Oceans Day is recognised by the United Nations and organisations and individuals around the world on June 8th every year. Given that The Bahamas is 95% underwater, BREEF is celebrating the whole of June as World Oceans Month.

Executive Director of BREEF, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert describes the annual celebration as “an internationally coordinated effort promoting the protection and restoration of the one shared ocean that connects us all.”

The yearly observance, beginning in 2002 and officially recognised by the United Nations in 2009, unites individuals, governments, civic organizations, religious groups and businesses worldwide through thousands of in-person and virtual events organised across 140 countries throughout the globe. This year’s theme of ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’ is especially relevant to The Bahamas as our primary industry, tourism, relies heavily on the ocean through beaches, seafood, snorkelling, yachting and more, along with the countless supporting jobs that go along with each.

The head of the local marine-conservation non-profit indicated that this time each year her organization often receives requests by companies wishing to participate in coastal cleanup initiatives and to engage their staff in activities that help protect the ocean. “It is extremely encouraging to see businesses becoming more environmentally conscious and keen to take action. In these challenging times, there is no better place to be than outdoors and in the fresh air, or even better wearing a mask underwater!” To facilitate this, BREEF has created an easy-to-use toolkit that businesses can use to organize their own events.

“Rather than facilitating one single cleanup, this year we decided to think out of the box and shift our focus to building capacity. We wanted to equip our partners with a simple but detailed guide that will help them to be successful” McKinney-Lambert continued.

The guide, which can be found on the BREEF’s website (breef.org) provides breakdowns for before, during and after cleanup events, important contact information for relevant agencies and data collection sheets that can be reported and input into a global database. The goal is that with multiple businesses conducting their own respective cleanup exercises throughout the month of June and beyond, the overall impact will be multiplied across the entire Bahamas.

BREEF is also offering companies planning on hosting beach clean ups the opportunity to have a BREEF team member schedule time slots on the day to speak with their groups on the importance of action to protect Bahamian marine life and how both the business and its team members can continue to do their part year-round.

With June 1st simultaneously serving as the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season and initial projections forecasting an active season ahead, the BREEF executive felt there was no better time to release the publication. “Our coral reefs serve as the first line of defense during major storms, reducing wave energy by up to 97%. Human impacts like pollution are just one of several major threats wreaking havoc on coral reef ecosystems worldwide. With this new guide we really hope to maximize our reach and see an increase in the number of cleanups, no matter how big or small.”

The non-profit foundation will also be hosting a public cleanup and snorkel event at 10AM on Saturday, 12 June at Saunders Beach for interested individuals, small groups and families to attend.

Organisations wishing to coordinate their upcoming cleanup events with BREEF can get in contact by calling (242) 327-9000 or by emailing breef@breef.org.

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BAHAMIAN ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS RECEIVE SCHOLARSHIPS THROUGH OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME

After an unprecedented year of distanced virtual learning, newly selected Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars are ready for hands-on research and in-person experiential learning through the BESS programme. Applicants throughout New Providence and Grand Bahama competed for coveted seats in this gap year programme offered in partnership by the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) and The Island School.

Scholars for the 2021-2022 BESS Programme are Heather Brockbank from Bishop Michael Eldon School, Isabelle Petty from Sunland Academy, Theodore Moss from C.R. Walker and Promise Russell from St. George’s High School.  Fully funded by The Island School, each scholar will participate in a life-changing experiential Semester on their Eleuthera campus, in addition to a four-month paid internship funded by The Island School. This year, scholars will participate in internships at either BREEF, IDEA Relief or the One Eleuthera Foundation.

Recognizing the growing need to problem solve in a rapidly changing world, BREEF and The Island School mentor these independent students through solutions-based learning and scientific research internships. Upon completion of the programme, each scholar leaves well equipped to lead The Bahamas into a more sustainable future!

Heather Brockbank has shown exceptional leadership in international plastic pollution boot camps and volunteer work with several environmental organizations. “I want to develop a platform to ensure the cultivation of sustainable products for The Bahamas. I also intend to assist The Bahamas in the conversion to a plastic-free land and in this promise, a sustainable lifestyle.”

Isabelle Petty is a Waterkeeper Cadet and an avid diver interested in coral restoration. “My desire to be a front runner in environmental rehabilitation has directed me to apply for a BESS scholarship. The experience I’ve had as a junior ambassador for the environment cannot compare to the hands on education and college prep advantages gained here.”

Theodore Moss is a Royal Bahamas Police Force Cadet and is in the Maritime Cadet Corps. He has had a longstanding interest in solar energy. “In school I created a miniature solar powered vehicle using a plastic bottle, solar panel and my imagination. I am also excited to explore some of the mysteries of the ocean in BESS.”

Promise Russell learned to dive in the Marine Science programme at St. George’s High School and expresses her love for the ocean through visual art. Speaking about the calm she feels underwater, she states “All of my worries stay on the surface. I love it there but there are many issues compromising that beautiful world. I want to protect and preserve this utopia, my underwater home, so others can be inspired and feel that freedom, too.”

In addition to these four young scholars, Brianna Brown from St George’s and Arianna Goulbourne from St. Anne’s School were chosen as BESS Summer Scholars. They will receive a full scholarship from The Island School to participate in the organisation’s 4-week Summer Term beginning July 2021.

Since 2008, 51 young Bahamians have benefitted from this exceptional educational experience, with most scholars going on to pursue related tertiary studies or being currently employed in the environmental field.

BREEF thanks The Island School for providing the BESS scholarships and also thanks their partners, donors and sponsors whose support makes these unique opportunities possible.

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