Originally from South Africa, I have lived in Nassau, New Providence for five years. I am passionate about the ocean and consider myself to be a mermaid. Shortly after I arrived in Nassau, I started volunteering for BREEF, participating in their beach clean-ups, snorkel events and coral restoration programme.
I realised the best way I could give back to the community was by educating students and tourists about the importance of our precious coral reefs. After all, coral reefs are our first line of defense against strong waves and hurricanes. Not to mention, coral reefs also provide a sustainable fisheries and tourism industry.
Sadly, each time I go for a dive, I witness firsthand the serious decline of our coral reefs. It has become blatantly obvious there is so much work to be done. Reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human-induced threats like climate change, coastal development and pollution, and future generations may lose the chance to enjoy the beauty of our ocean as we do today.
Corals are especially vulnerable to diseases and death with the continual rise in water temperature. The fate of our reefs depends on us reducing our carbon footprint and moving towards sustainable development.
Everyone can play a role in protecting our coral reefs. It all starts with making environmentally conscious daily decisions, even little efforts like reducing our plastic use, conserving energy in our homes, and choosing sustainable seafood for consumption. We must all do more to protect the coral reefs that protect us.
“The ocean around us is essential for the social, economic and environmental well-being of The Bahamas. It is one of our greatest treasures and it is up to all of us to protect it. At BREEF we encourage everyone to explore this incredible world and to speak out bravely on its behalf as if our future depends on it… because it does!” BREEF executive director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert
Every honoree featured, as well as the hundreds of other nominees, are exploring, inspiring, and creating the future – the future of the planet, the future of food security, of paleontology, of biology, what our communities should look like, and so much more. The EC50 was established to not only reflect the great diversity of exploration, but to give a voice to these trailblazing explorers, scientists, and activists doing incredible work.
Additionally featured in Forbes magazine – The Iconic Explorers Club Honors 50 Members Including 21 Remarkable Women
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) extends heartfelt thanks to all its local and international supporters who adopted coral for themselves or loved ones during BREEF’s Adopt a Coral “Holiday Special” promotion. The abundance of coral adoptions combined with a generous matching donation made double the impact.
The Bahamas is home to 35% of all coral reefs in the wider Caribbean. Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet—even more than a tropical rainforest. Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life. Coral reefs also provide protection from storms and generate income for tourism and fisheries.
Coral reefs are under serious threat from human impacts such as climate change, pollution, the introduction of invasive species, coastal development, illegal fishing practices and overfishing. Globally, 80% of live corals have died in the last 50 years. BREEF works to protect coral reefs through coral restoration, education and encouraging good policy decisions for sustainable development. Coral reefs are especially vulnerable to warming waters due to human-induced climate change, and BREEF staff closely monitor corals for signs of coral stress and bleaching. Climate change is the result of burning fossil fuels and warming the atmosphere and the ocean.
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.
BREEF created the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden & Coral Nursery in 2014 in the beautiful Bahamian waters off Clifton. It Is an exceptional snorkeling and diving experience and is home to “Ocean Atlas” – the world’s largest underwater sculpture, and the location of one of BREEF’s coral nurseries. The sculpture garden is a perfect fusion of living art, conservation, and education, teaching thousands of children every year about the Bahamian waters. BREEF has an additional coral nursery located on the third-largest barrier reef in the world, the Andros Barrier Reef. To date, hundreds of corals have been out-planted back onto the surrounding reefs to help restore and rebuild this critical ecosystem.
The “holiday special” promotion was so successful, BREEF will be offering the opportunity again in February for Valentine’s Day, and encourages everyone to join BREEF in restoring our coral reefs by adopting a coral.
BREEF is a member of the Reef Rescue Network. For more information on our coral restoration activities and the coral adoption programme at the world-famous BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and the Andros Barrier Reef visit the adopt a coral webpage.
The Nassau grouper is one of the most important species in the region and it is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Nassau groupers reproduce in only a few special places around the full moons of the winter months each year. Individual fish may travel over a hundred miles to form part of very large groups called fish spawning aggregations for just a few days before returning to their home reefs.
The Nassau grouper season is closed between 1st December and 28th February every year. No person shall “take, land, process, sell or offer for sale” any Nassau grouper during the closed season.
You can help support this special fish and the people who depend on it by letting the Nassau grouper spawn in peace and by choosing another dish during the closed season.
As another hurricane season has come and gone, we’d like to acknowledge and appreciate the coral reefs that are the first line of defence protecting our islands from storms. Coral reefs can break wave energy by 97%. Bahamian reefs also help generate income and sustain livelihoods through tourism and fisheries. Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet;—even more than a tropical rainforest. Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine species.
Coral Reefs Make Life in The Bahamas Possible
By protecting our island from storms, allowing our country to be a top tourism destination and keeping our fisheries afloat, coral reefs are essential to our survival.
Join Us- Adopt a Coral!
Corals are resilient but they need our help. BREEF takes action by combating threats such as climate change and pollution, helping establish marine protected areas, teaching thousands of children every year about our waters, and growing living coral to restore Bahamian reefs. BREEF has created the BREEF Sir Nicholas Coral Reef Sculpture Garden – an exceptional snorkeling and diving experience in the beautiful Bahamian waters off Clifton. It is home to “Ocean Atlas” – the world’s largest underwater sculpture, and the location of one of BREEF’s coral nurseries.
The sculpture garden is a perfect fusion of living art, conservation and education, and BREEF takes thousands of young people snorkeling to experience this underwater classroom first hand.
Join us in restoring our coral reefs this holiday season by adopting a coral. For more information on our Coral Restoration activities at the world-famous BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and the Andros Barrier Reef, visit breef.org.
While most people are thankful 2020 is almost over due to the ongoing pandemic. There is a more urgent threat to our lives and livelihoods… climate change.
By 2030 (without urgent intervention) globally most of our coral reefs will be dead. Plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean and every year we will endure stronger and more intense storms and hurricanes.
It’s not surprising that this year’s hurricane season named storms made it through the Greek alphabet. The memory of the record-breaking storm – Category 5 Hurricane Dorian remains as vivid as yesterday for those who experienced the devastation and the loss of loved ones.
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) captured top honours at the 9th annual tve Global Sustainability Film Awards in London. The GSFA recognizes outstanding films from the business, non-profit, media and creative sectors that inspire audiences with real-world solutions for a more sustainable future. The 2020 awards were held online from November 16-20, with BREEF winning first place in the Transforming Society category.
BREEF and the Rolex Perpetual Planet initiative collaborated to produce this award-winning short film about educating the next generation of Bahamian environmental stewards. The film highlights BREEF and its Eco-Schools programme, drawing attention to the actions young people are taking within their schools and communities to combat climate change and to sustain the Bahamian way of life. Students from Deep Creek Middle School, Harbour Island Green School, Eva Hilton Primary School and CI Gibson Senior High School are in the film, inspiring others around the world by using the ocean as a living classroom, and driving action to protect it. Children in the film learn about marine protected areas and explore BREEF’s coral nursery and Coral Reef Sculpture Garden.
The film prominently shares the beauty of The Bahamas with a global audience. It includes stunning footage of the island of Eleuthera where BREEF’s Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert was born – from Lighthouse Point in the south to Harbour Island in the north. Rolex’s Perpetual Planet initiative celebrates partnerships that encourage and inspire the next generation of underwater explorers and conservationists.
The film was directed by award-winning filmmaker Fran Mendez, and includes underwater footage by world-renowned Bahamian photographer Andre Musgrove.
Upon receiving the news that the “BREEF and Rolex Preserve and Protect Nature” film won first place, an elated Casuarina McKinney-Lambert said, “We are thrilled and are so proud of what the young people of The Bahamas are doing to protect the oceans around us and make the world a better place. We owe it to the next generation to support them.”
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 (FEE). 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. The global Eco-Schools network includes over 19.5 million children in 68 countries.
Currently, BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas network is spread over six islands and consists of 17 government and 17 private schools. While schools are operating remotely during the pandemic, BREEF educators are teaching virtual field trips and presentations to support ongoing conservation education.
The Bahamas belongs to our children, and BREEF’s Eco-Schools programme gives them the tools and the global reach to protect it. Schools interested in joining the Eco-Schools Bahamas programme can contact BREEF at 327-9000 or email: email@example.com.
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is deeply committed to protecting our waters and the marine creatures that sustain lives and livelihoods in The Bahamas.
The Bahamas fully protected sea turtles in 2009 and made the country a shark sanctuary in 2011 in response to increasing threats to shark and turtle populations in The Bahamas and around the world. Sharks and turtles are vulnerable to overexploitation because they are slow to mature and reproduce, they have been the targets of high levels of fishing pressure in many of their ranges, and because they have experienced impacts to the habitats that they need to survive.
Sharks and turtles play critical roles in maintaining healthy coral reefs and seagrass beds and in keeping the populations of other species in balance and healthy. Their presence is important for the well-being of our commercial and recreational fisheries. They are also important components of our Bahamian tourism product. The fact that our country is the premier destination in the region to dive and snorkel with large marine life means that The Bahamas is consistently ranked as one of the top dive tourism destinations in the world. Sharks alone bring in at least $114 million/ year in tourism revenue.
We hear the concerns voiced by some fishermen about a perceived increase in numbers of sharks and turtles, and respect we need to come up with solutions that take the well-being of both wildlife and humans into consideration. Available science does not indicate that populations are higher than historical levels and it would be rash to rush into making changes to existing levels of protection without very careful consideration.
There is a need to make good science-based decisions regarding managing the marine environment. Much more research is needed. This must involve a wide variety of people connected with the marine environment in research design and implementation, and in decision-making, including scientists and fishers, incorporating traditional knowledge and experiences into carrying out rigorous scientific studies, and sharing the findings widely.
There is currently no research that would recommend relaxing the existing protections that are in place for sharks and turtles in Bahamian waters.
BREEF does not support opening our shark and turtle populations to fishing.
Soon after I moved to The Bahamas in the early
August of 2019 to start teaching at the Lyford Cay International School, I was
fortunate enough to attend a presentation by Mrs. Casuarina McKinney-Lambert,
Executive Director of BREEF, where, among other things, I learned about coral
nurseries. Wait, what? Underwater gardening is possible? Where do I sign up?!
Needless to say, I was mesmerized and made a decision that once an opportunity
presented itself, I was going to join this noble cause.
Although my plans got postponed by Covid-19, I was not going to give up. So, in the meantime, I took part in the BREEF Paint & Sip fundraiser and became the proud adoptive mother of a coral; her name is Renata, which in Spanish means “reborn”, thus symbolically representing the rebirth of our coral reefs and safeguarding the oceans.
So, finally, in October 2020 I got a chance to become a PADI Certified Diver with the help of one of the star BREEF instructors and one of the most passionate environmentalists, Allison Ballester-Longley. Now, bear in mind that the writer of these lines has fought the fear of swimming for years and thanks to the patience and expertise of my instructor, I not only managed to stay underwater, diving for lengthy periods of time, but I also out-planted two corals at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and socialized with various schools of fish which insisted on photobombing and interrupting our communication expecting to be fed. Rude!
Where from here? How does pursuing my Reef Rescue Diver certification and swimming with the sharks at Stuart Cove sound to you? Exactly!
BREEF created the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden to draw attention to the threats
facing our coral reefs, and to drive action to protect them. BREEF has created
coral nurseries at the Coral Reef Sculpture Gardens and on the Andros Great Barrier Reef. At these coral nurseries, we are
growing the endangered species, Staghorn coral.
Under the theme “Lessons from Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19: Building a resilient Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme,” the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) held its annual and first ever Virtual Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators Workshop. The Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme is part of Eco-Schools Global which is the largest sustainable schools programme in the world supporting student environmental leaders in 68 countries. During her opening remarks Laura Hickey, FEE Eco-Schools Director said, “Our common goals and interests are to prepare young people to develop the academic, social, and environmental knowledge and personal skills they need to be successful, fulfilled, and able to live in a sustainable world that they help build.”
The three-day workshop hosted participants from the USA, Abaco, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Exuma, Long Island and New Providence who examined current challenges facing environmental education. Participants explored strategies to promote healthy oceans and actions to combat climate change.
The workshop featured a wide range of speakers including Mrs. Rochelle Newbold, Director of the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection, Nikita Shiel-Rolle, CEO of Cat Island Conservation Institute and Young Marine Explorers, Dr. Ancilleno Davis, CEO of Science and Perspective, Cha Boyce, Executive Director of Friends of the Environment and Environmental Journalists at ZNS, Julian Reid and Crystal Darling . Presenters discussed topics ranging from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to environmental education in a climate crisis and COVID-19 reality. Workshop participants also shared personal stories about their own personal and professional lessons learned from Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19.
Commenting on the guest presentation by Mrs. Rochelle Newbold, Director of the Department of +Environmental Planning and Protection, Eco-Schools Bahamas Steering Committee member Samantha Cartwright said, “The Director’s presentation was insightful and her advice to Eco-School students and their facilitators to continue to take action no matter how small the effort is was a great take home message. The presentation has helped all of us to understand the connection of how the SDGs help provide insight into the key question: Are we moving in the right direction? And if not, what needs to change now so that we are on a better path as we head to 2030?”
Attendees were encouraged to use outdoor spaces around their homes and school grounds for teaching and learning as studies have shown its vast benefits. BREEF’s virtual presentations were also highlighted as helpful tools that educators can use to continue education in these challenging times. In addition to celebrating the achievements of Eco-Schools Bahamas during 2019 -2020, participants networked to strengthen the growth and impact of Eco-Schools in The Bahamas. BREEF is extremely grateful for the commitment of Eco-Schools Bahamas benefactors, coordinators, partners and volunteers who remain resolute in inspiring future generations of environmental stewards.
Kevin Glinton, BREEF’s Education Coordinator and Eco-Schools Bahamas National Operator stated, “Children are very resilient. I am gratified by the participation of Educators and participants from several islands. And I am confident that our dedicated Eco-Schools Bahamas coordinators will continue to inspire them toward environmental actions in spite of Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19.”
According to Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF’s Executive Director, “The Bahamas belongs to our children and Eco-Schools gives them the tools and the global reach to protect it.”
Having completed a year- long pilot programme, BREEF also rolled out its new Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Programme with the support of the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme. The Young Reporters for the Environment Programme is also sponsored by the Foundation for Environmental Education and managed in The Bahamas by BREEF.
BREEF is grateful to Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Initiative for their support of the Eco-schools Bahamas programme.
The outdoor classroom is not a new phenomenon. Educators around the world have been practicing it for years. In fact, there is a long tradition of outside learning that includes Waldorf schools and open-air lectures by Aristotle and other ancient philosophers.
At BREEF the ocean is our classroom. We have
always believed that incorporating outdoor education with a traditional
classroom is beneficial, as it improves kids’ health, gives children a love and
appreciation for nature, improves personal child development and provides
practical experience. Most of our programmes are outdoors and we see these
In this new climate of social distancing,
educators across the globe are moving towards the outdoor classroom. Scientists
believe that the transmission of Covid-19 is less likely to occur outdoors as
the infected droplets disperse faster in fresh air. Studies have
also shown that sun and wind can help reduce the presence of viable viruses on
As we all search for a new normal, BREEF would like to encourage everyone to find ways to incorporate outdoor learning into their routine. Although the beaches are only open a few hours each day, here are a few ideas to incorporate outdoor activities into your homeschool curriculum:
Let’s put our feet in the sand – Write a descriptive story about being on the beach from the perspective of your feet. What do your feet see, feel, enjoy, about being on the beach and in the water?
Go on a scavenger hunt – There are many resources available online with quick scavenger hunt lists. Make a game of it and see how many items on the list they can find in an hour.
Let’s take a walk – Kids are missing the outside. Sometimes a quick walk on the beach is all they need to catch a second wind and it promotes exercise.
Discover your neighborhood on a drive – Are there any historical landmarks nearby? How far is it between the house and the beach? Is it faster if we go by bike or by car? How many miles did we travel? Can we convert that to km?
Channel your inner artist – Have your child draw pictures of fish they may see while swimming or a beautiful tree on the beach. BREEF has waterproof fish slates for sale that you can use to name animals you may see on your beach excursion.
Relax – Sometimes the best thing for a busy child (and parent) is to rest. What better way than to rest on the beach!