Science and Perspective

This is our world, through these eyes

Hello folks,

Space to Create in conjunction with students from North Eleuthera Highschool will be featured in the Ocean Webcast entitled You, Me and the Coral Reef on March 21 at 12 pm. Please use the link below to register for the webcast:

Feel free to circulate widely!

Featured post

Those lips though!

Hopefully you have been paying attention. If not, here is a little #science and #perspective on Queen Conch.
Conch is economically extinct in Florida, Cuba and Jamaica has recently closed its conch fishery to protect the mollusk. In most other places, the conch is so rare, that the shell is prized and an expensive souvenir that must be treated with care.
Here in the Bahamas, we have conch “gone to bed” we focus on the conch meat for export and consumption in just about every serious restaurant.
Unfortunately, we do not know how old the conch we eat are. We do not know exactly how long they take to reach reproductive maturity and how long they take to find a mate after that.

Can you imagine if you walked as slow as a conch and you see another conch 100 meters away, but they are walking in the other direction? what if you get there and they are the same sex? What if just as you get there, some human catches and kills you?

So here are a few studies on how you figure out conch age, and how density affects reproduction.

Proxy measures for Queen Conch – Mueller and Stoner

and Density affects Queen Conch Mating – Stoner, Davis, Booker

Leno with Adult Conch ShellBasically, we need more data, we need to know how many conch we have and how many they can produce for us year over year BEFORE we can know how many we can take from the population safely.

In the meantime, we can focus on sustainability and err on the side of caution. Please only accept a conch with a well flared, thick lip for your conch salad. Don’t eat conch more than once a month to start with. Ask your conch man for the shell to make something out of it.

From a Bahamian Perspective, we have the last healthy population, shouldnt we be working to make them last as long as possible?

Contact BREEF at or call them at 327-9000 to learn about conch.

Visit the Bahamas National Trust Conchservation page and Watch the conchservation video

Did you know some queen conch are male and some are female?
Message us if you want to learn about something else and think you would like some science and perspective.

Common Ground-Doves and Casuarina

Common Ground-Doves are one of my favorite birds. (Yes, I know. I have many.) But this little bird just went up a notch in my heart, because guess what? It eats Casuarina seeds.

Casuarina equisetifolia and Casuarina glauca are two incredibly invasive trees from Australia. Some people call them Australian Pine or even Bay Cedar. In the photo, the dark brown fruit scattered on the ground are typical with 20 to 30 winged seeds. Larger fruit may have 50 or 60 seeds. The winged seeds can travel up to 11 miles in hurricane force winds and germinate after prolonged exposure to salt water. They grow up to ten feet tall in the first year, rapidly out-competing native plants. Then they poison the native plants with chemicals from their leaves. And to top it all off, their horrible little fruit poke you in the feet when you try to walk barefoot on the beach.

But COGD (the abbreviation for the Common Ground-Dove) is helping to put pressure on the population. seed predation will (hopefully) help to slow down the spread of the Casuarina. now, we just need a bit of research to know if the seeds are the best quality for the little guys and if there is anything we can do to help them get better food, find more of the seeds or just basically know if they are having a significant impact.

Common Ground-Doves, I salute you. With your tiny little heads.

Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina feeding on Casuarina sp. seeds on Blue Lagoon Island, May 18, 2019.

Yards and Patches in ebird

So I have a problem where I can be very specific about where I am birding. Bahamas National Trust retreat gardens village road parking lot, versus

Bahamas National Trust retreat gardens village road the Dilly lawn for example.This helps me to separate my data well and analyze it when I need at the level I want. but it also makes it hard to find some things. but guess what? you can create a patch of locations in eBird now!!
So now, you can lump a group of locations to see the stats from that patch.
how awesome is that? you can have your data as a whole cake or bite sized pieces.

You are welcome.

Tweet, Tweet

I have been off twitter for awhile, but I still send some of my writing there.

If you need your twitter fix when it comes to birds, though, you do not have to wait for me. you can check out this list of twitter feeds and tweeps that you can follow and thye even have the questions they are able to answer so you can follow them and interact.


Well, Well, Well…

$2.5 M sourced for oil exploration or at least, to keep BPC going from an administrative perspective.

Money may be the husk of many things but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not loyalty; days of joy, but not peace or happiness. -Henrik Ibsen, playwright (20 Mar 1828-1906)

Image showing Paradise Island Bahamas aerial views from the East. The  upper image shows Paradise island in the 1970s mostly covered in vegetation with a large golf course on the eastern end. The Lower image show Significant urbanization and development including marinas and hotels that now cover more than 70% of the island.
Top is Paradise Island Bahamas c. 1970 below is after 2010

There is so much going on here from a sustainability perspective. The coastlines have been altered changing the deposition of sand and potentially smothering nearby coral reefs. The removal of forested areas is problematic, but much of the internal area was golf course and what seems to be invasive Casuarina trees.
Newly created marinas and waterways do create additional habitat for some waterfowl and the marinas do hold many diadema and in some cases lobster which have been severely impacted in the past, but the question of runoff, waste removal/disposal, and sheer volume of visitors has significant impact on the native environment.
In light of all of this, we also have to take a balanced view and recognize the jobs created by these developments and therefore the growing dependence of Bahamians and the Bahamas on this island. most voting Bahamians today do not recognize the Bahamas of the 1970s so from a cultural perspective, these images may have little weight. Economically and environmentally, we have poor records of the species there now or the species lost during these transitions.
Do you have any impressive old photos of the Bahamas? share with us and let us see the difference between now and then.

Thought on sustainability: Waste not, want not.

The most expensive resources we have are wasted resources. All resources require energy and other resources to create so when we do not take full advantage of the resources we generate, we lose.

How many of your employees have skills you are not capitalizing on? That you perhaps do not even know about?

When a conch salad catches $15, but a whole undamaged shell can fetch 30, why do we throw them away? Why do we harvest them like we do?

Open your eyes to the resources around you today. SEE sustainability.

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International day of Women and Girls in Science (2019)

Today (February 11, 2019), is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

You can read a copy of the official resolution International Day of Women and Girls in Science as a pdf, on my website .

Today, I want to send a shout out to some of my favorite female scientists.

First, my mother Vivienne Davis, who got me into it as a plant taxonomist. I would go out on her teaching days and collect plants from the neighborhood that fit into the BahamaHost training program. she would teach tour guides about these plants so that they could speak intelligently to their guests and our tourist visitors about the beautiful plants and flowers they see as they drive around the island.

Next, Alma Nora, my wife and mother of our amazing boys. Having children is surrounded by science, the biology, psychology, medications and all the statistics surrounding health and development. As we went through the process of pregnancy and continue to rear the boys, it is always amazing to see the amount of research she does and the way we can discuss the best options in terms of what is statistically the best bet for our boys’ success.

Eleanor Phillips, has been an amazing fixture in Bahamian conservation for awhile now and she continues to amaze me with her quiet resolve. No doubt, being a woman in leadership in the Bahamas is no small feat.When you combine that with the other nationalist and racist politics she has had to deal with for being “light-skinned” or having heritage outside the Bahamas, it is amazing how much she has been able to get done. I can vouch for her willingness to also support younger scientists and all of her employees when their cause is just.

Charlene Carey, Science Educator extraordinaire has taught thousands of Bahamian students and continued to lead the way in science education well after leaving St. John’s. As a part of BREEF’s teacher training workshops, through the development of the coral reef display and beyond, my favorite has been hearing the tales of her students saying how Mrs. Carey is the best teacher ever. The most important lesson I have learned from her is to constantly learn and educate yourself so you can teach more or more accurately.

Truranda Cox, Kristal (Ocean) Ambrose, young entrepreneurs in science and conservation. These young women have moved outside the realm of simply learning and teaching but now live their conservation mindset through their work. True shares her passion through her professional Bahamian tours and Kristal travels the world teaching everyone about the plastic pollution problems we face in the Bahamas and Globally.

Of course, I cannot include everyone, BNT alone would be a separate encyclopedia of amazing female scientists and as usual, this is just my perspective and only a small portion of my perspective at that.

Who is your favorite female scientist? tell me in the comments.
Do you know a girl or woman interested in science but unsure how to get started? Get in touch with a Bahamian scientist via Bahamians Educated in Natural and Geospatial Science.

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