Today we rose to another beautiful morning. We were docked at the Cape Eleuthera Marina, located on the southwest tip of Eleuthera in the Bahamian Archipelago. On this island known for its natural wonders, we spent our day seeking out experts on Eleuthera to learn more about the programs in place to protect Eleuthera’s unique environment.

The Cape Eleuthera Island School is found just a few short miles down the road–a hub for conservation-related research, innovation, education, and outreach in the Bahamas. Lucky for us, today was the day of their monthly tilapia fish harvest. We had the chance to witness the graceful nurse sharks and proud bull sharks that migrate to the marina to feed on the discarded fish carcasses.

The fish harvested today are a product of the school’s aquaponics system. This system combines aquaculture (the captive rearing of fish) and hydroponics (growing produce in water) as a sustainable method of generating food without soil and with very little fresh water. As a country low in both of these resources, aquaponics has the potential to increase food security in the Bahamas.

After the fish harvest, Dr. Nick Higgs, the organization’s director of research, gave us a tour of the facilities of The Island School. He introduced us to the wide variety of research projects conducted on their campus, ranging from lobster aquaculture, stone crab fisheries, and coral restoration, to permaculture design, waste management, and so much more.

In the afternoon, we headed to the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, a 30-acre botanical garden located in central Eleuthera. This plant preserve, the first national park established on the island, aims to showcase and preserve native and endemic plant species of the Bahamas.

During our guided tour of the premises, we learned about the medicinal uses of many of the native plant species, as well as the history behind them. The preserve’s lush mangroves, freshwater wetlands, and coppice forests are rich with wildlife, including the endemic Bahama woodstar and the Bahama slider.

The day concluded with a beautiful sunset cocktail hour on the beach right before dinner.