THIRTY–two young people spent a week at the Bahamas National Trust Summer Safari learning about conch.
“Camp Conchservation” provided the boys and girls with an opportunity to get to know conch on all levels by learning about its habitat requirements, biology, uses and the rules and regulations governing its harvest in the Bahamas.
Day one saw the students visiting Bonefish Pond National Park, an extensive coastal mangrove area providing an excellent habitat for juvenile conch and other marine life.
The young explorers snorkelled and learned about mangroves and the importance of coastal wetland areas as marine nurseries, as well as places for visitors to learn about unique Bahamian ecosystems.
Scientists warn that Bahamian conch populations may be over harvested. A culturally important resource, conch will be hard for people to do without.
The campers visited the Fish Fry area and interviewed fishermen, restaurant owners, workers and patrons in order to find out 1) if they thought conch were endangered, and 2) what kind of regulations would they be willing to accept in order to insure we have conch for the future.
Jondre Kelley said he was surprised that the fishermen he interviewed said that there was still plenty of conch. All of the interviewing made for hungry campers and they finished off their work by making their own delicious conch salad.
Snorkelling the sea grass beds at Goodman’s Bay was the next adventure for the campers. The campers were able to visit and survey an area of juvenile conch, learning how to conduct conch surveys.
The next survey was of conch middens on Arawak Cay. The youngsters measured the conch and recorded the number of adult and juvenile conchs found in the middens.
After each excursion the students worked in groups to complete reports on their findings. The last day of camp was spent completing their reports and giving presentations to BNT staff, their parents and family members on what they had learned at the Conchservation Camp.
Special awards were given at the closing ceremony with the following campers being recognised for outstanding performance:
• Best camp journal – Liam Francis
• Most helpful – Isreal John, Devonia Lightbourne
• Best Behavior – Lashae Anderson
• Most attentive – Matia Knowles
• Most Creative – Nile White
Matia Knowles said: “I really enjoyed this camp. It was very exciting to snorkel at Bonefish Pond National Park and I learned a lot about conch.
Kiran Halkitas, who is a second year Camp Safari participant, said: “I could not wait to come to camp. Last year was fun but this year was even better and I enjoyed interviewing the fisherman about what they thought about conch in the Bahamas.”
The Bahamas National Trust also ran Summer Safari in Grand Bahama and will be partnering with the Haynes Library in Eleuthera to run another camp July 16-20. Additionally, it is supporting summer programmes in Central and South Andros.