So, what happens when the weather keeps us from getting out there and counting conch? Usually its data entry, catching up on email, lab work, checking the weather forecast, more data entry, checking the forecast again…mostly we’re behind the computer, but sometimes we get a little creative. Chris and Dunte arrived In Sandy Point just in time for the effects of a tropical storm, so they had lots of time to hone their acting skills and shoot an outreach video about one of the most interesting things they learned in their volunteer training…how to estimate the age of a conch. They also wanted to make sure they got out an important message. Take a look and share with people who might be interested!
Brandon Jennings recently graduated from C.V. Bethel High School, where he participated in their highly regarded marine science magnet program. He spent the last year as a Bahamas Environment Steward Scholar (BESS Scholar) attending the Island School and completing an internship with the Bahamas National Trust. For a 17 year old, Brandon has a lot of field experience and it shows! On late notice, he joined our project in Abaco and played a critical role in getting surveys done on the fishing grounds of More’s Island. Despite the remote location and sometimes challenging weather conditions, he averaged 11 tows per day! Definitely tow master standards. Brandon says he’s always wanted to study queen conch because he learned when he was younger that their populations have been decreasing. He was ready when the opportunity to help us came up and made a huge contribution to our effort. Thanks Brandon!
When Community Conch visits a a location to conduct surveys, we also set a high priority on meeting with the people who are in touch with the resource on a daily basis. These folks might be fishers, fisheries officers, restaurant owners, other scientists, and local conservationists. By connecting with them, we get a better idea of things like fishing pressure, market trends, conch population trends, important fishing areas, and of course, all of the concerns and opinions that these stakeholders are willing to share. Our work in the Bight of Abaco was centered around two settlements, Sandy Point and More’s Island, which are both are very reliant on their lobster and conch fisheries. A high percentage of the men in these communities are fishermen, and so it was our goal to hear directly from them. We also wanted to make sure they knew what we were up to on their fishing grounds! Here’s a picture of the public meeting in Sandy Point, and a few that illustrate the fishing lifestyle of the two settlements.
Catherine talking with fishermen in Sandy Point about estimating the age of a conch and reproductive maturity.
Fishing skiffs in Sandy Point. photo by C. Booker
Larger fishing boats in More's Island. photo by M. Davis
A conch shell pile or midden on the shoreline of More's Island. photo by M. Davis
DID YOU KNOW?
One way to estimate a conch's age and reproductive status is by measuring the thickness of the lip of its shell.