Explore one of the world's best coral reefs before you graduate from high school!
Join Sanibel Sea School in the Bahamas as we immerse ourselves in one of Earth’s most diverse and spectacular ecological systems: the coral reef. Coral reefs around the world are changing rapidly, and there has never been a more interesting time to study them. We need to gather information now, to identify the best ways to protect our reefs from threats like climate change and ocean acidification for future generations.
For one week we will set up residence at the Forfar Field Station on Andros Island, the largest Bahamian island. With world-class reefs as our classroom, our laboratory, and our backyard, students will identify and study reef inhabitants and learn to interpret their discoveries alongside coral reef ecologists. Ultimately, students will put their new-found knowledge to work collecting and analyzing survey data on fish and invertebrate populations that will be used to better understand and effectively conserve this important ecosystem. Students will earn community service hours for these surveys ‒ and what better community to serve than a coral reef?
This summer, truly experience the dynamic world of marine science. You will gain new insights into the field of marine ecology and make a valuable contribution to coral reef research and conservation, all in a setting as breathtaking as it is biologically rich.
What: Coral Reef Research Expedition for Teens
Where: Andros Island, Bahamas
When: July 29 - August 6, 2016, overnight
Open to high school students ages 15-18
Cost: $1800/camper, all-inclusive from Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale
Day 1: We will travel from Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale by van and meet participants who have flown in from out of state. We'll introduce ourselves, and stay overnight in Fort Lauderdale in hotel rooms.
Day 2: We'll take a short charter flight from Fort Lauderdale to Andros Island. After we arrive on Andros, we'll be given a field station orientation by staff, and we will settle in to our bunks. The afternoon will be spent snorkeling near the station (or practicing snorkel skills, for those of us who are new to it). We'll get to take a look at Forfar's own coral nursery. In the evening, we'll begin to practice our local fish identification.
Day 3: The day will begin with a snorkel trip and a picnic on Pigeon Key. After lunch, we will visit the local tide pools and discuss tide pool ecology. This is a great place to find a tiny octopus or some interesting urchins. We'll continue learning our local fish, invertebrates, and corals after dinner, and we will write in our journals about our experience so far.
Day 4: We will take a trip to the "Tongue of the Ocean", where we will snorkel in water over 6,000 feet deep. This is a truly amazing experience. After lunch, we'll take a field trip to the Batik Factory in Androsia, and learn about this Bahamian art form. Planning for group research begins, and the evening lecture will be about research methods and data collection. We'll end the day with more journaling, maybe sharing some of our writing with friends and family via email.
Day 5: Group research project fieldwork will start this morning. After that, we'll take a trip to the nearby seagrass beds to learn about the unique creatures that live there. In the afternoon, we'll have time for art, journaling, and perhaps a trip to the Conch Sound Blue Hole, where we can rope swing into a refreshing pool of fresh water. This evening is the one we've all been looking forward to - it's time for our night snorkel!
Day 6: We'll continue group research and data analysis, followed by snorkeling at Dave's patch reef in the afternoon. Sometimes we see large barracuda here. After dinner, we'll have an ice cream social and enjoy some well-deserved relaxation with friends.
Day 7: Let's watch the sunrise before we continue group research projects. Today we'll snorkel at Rat Key, then choose from afternoon activities like art, fly fishing, more snorkeling, journaling, or maybe a beach hike. The evening lecture will be on the Geology of the Bahamas, a fascinating topic.
Day 8: We will finish data analysis for our group research projects today and and work on our presentations. Of course we'll go snorkeling again in the afternoon. Participants will present their group research findings after dinner and we will prepare for our departure the next morning.
Day 9: Today we return to Fort Lauderdale via charter flight, and either connect to our flights home or return to Fort Myers via van.
Click here to read what 2015 participants had to say about their experience!
Will I need a passport to participate?
Yes, all participants will need a current passport to participate in the expedition.
What if I don't live in Florida?
We accept participants from all over the US and abroad. We can arrange to meet your flight in Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale on the first day of the trip. Please give us a call at (239) 472-8585 for more information.
What are the accommodations like at Forfar Field Station?
Participants will stay in basic, gender-segregated huts with fans and bunk beds. Buildings have screens to keep mosquitoes and other insects out, but you might also want to bring a personal mosquito net.
What about the food?
Most meals are provided by the cooks at the field station, and are served family-style. We are able to accommodate special dietary needs if notified in advance.
Will I be able to keep in touch with my friends and family back home?
There is no internet access available to students at the Field Station, but trip leaders are able to connect to wi-fi in the main office and we send regular updates to families via email throughout the trip. We will also provide phone and email information to families in case you need to contact us for any reason during the expedition.
What kind of research will we do?
Participants will be introduced to a variety of real research methods, and will be divided into small groups assigned to different ongoing research projects during the trip. Current projects include seagrass monitoring, reef fish and invertebrate surveys, algae surveys, and coral health monitoring. This is real research that will be used to inform future coral reef management decisions in the Bahamas.
I've never snorkeled before. Is that a problem?
If you can swim, you can learn to snorkel. No prior snorkeling skills are necessary, and we will work with "newbies" on the first day until everyone is comfortable in the water. By the time we leave you will be snorkeling like a pro!
What do I need to bring?
Forfar Field Station has a recommended packing list to help you decide what to bring. The station also asks that you please do not bring spray sunscreen - it is harmful to the environment (and to you)! Please choose a lotion sunscreen (we like the Reef Safe brand) and bring clothing with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).
There will be opportunities to stop at local convenience stores after a hot day in the field for sodas or yummy coconut water, so cash in small denominations is recommended. We will also be visiting the local Batik factory one day, so there will be an opportunity to buy t-shirts, bags, and other souvenirs made locally on Andros Island. Otherwise, your camper will not need a large amount of money and we encourage them to leave most of their cash and valuables at home.
Remember, the lighter you pack the better!
Don't hesitate to give us a call at (239) 472-8585 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.