Exploring the Natural Resources of the Caribbean Sea

New Yorkers are probably familiar with our natural lands and waters including parks, rivers, and bays. But we also have the responsibility to conserve natural resources across the nation and globe.

To learn about tropical natural resources, NYLCV intern Riley Lenane attended a hands-on intensive ecological learning program in the Bahamas.

As part of her Marine Ecology class, the group learned how to scuba dive and learned to identify fish, coral, and other creatures which lay hidden 30 feet below the surface of the Caribbean Sea. They also learned about the harmful effects of coral bleaching and how the whole ecosystem is one interconnected web and the fall of coral could result in the fall of the entire system. They also saw and learned about fisheries and local conservation efforts to avoid overfishing. The group used Fish Aggregation Devices, floats or buoys that attract fish to gain a better understanding of the sound. This data can help to create a baseline for which scientists can figure out whether a species is increasing or heading towards extinction.

As part of her Sustainable Systems class, the group learned about managing food waste and preventing food shortages. In an in-house aquaponics system, they saw how animal byproducts are broken down and utilized by plants as nutrients. This system was created to combat food shortages because it uses less water than other farming techniques and reuses waste products. They also learned about how food waste could be turned into energy. As part of a uniquely Caribbean experience, used cooking oil from nearby cruise ships was turned into biodiesel. The group taught one another about sustainable systems in their own communities, which ranged from community gardens to solar-powered apartment buildings.

As part of her Tourism and Development class, they considered whether the idea of sustainable tourism is possible.  All-inclusive resorts provide travelers with a surplus of food and drinks, resulting in a greater strain on resources and large amounts of food waste. Vacationers at all-inclusive resorts consume significantly more food and energy than the average local. During interviews with locals, they discovered that tourists display a disregard for the land.

By visiting the Bahamas, the group learned about their hefty ecological footprints and their impact on the earth.