Connecting Students to Nature

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The sun is blazing intensely in a cloudless sky, and the lack of a breeze makes the sulfur, rotten egg-like smell even more intense. It feels like 95°F (35°C) and I am sweating profusely as I trudge through the mangroves, one of my favorite marine ecosystems. It feels like home to me.

After two and a half years of putting the J.A.M.I.N. program on hold, I am quickly reminded how much I missed not only teaching and interacting with students face-to-face, but also being in the mangroves. The same feelings happen to me every time I venture into this amazing ecosystem: feelings of curiosity, awe, and respect, mixed with a sense of calm tranquility. And it is these same kinds of feelings we hope to foster in our students while they participate in our program…

Welcome, Saskia! KSLOF welcomes a master’s student to study our Mangrove Education & Restoration Program

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Six months ago, I was certain that I would be travelling to Indonesia to research mangrove crabs for my master’s thesis. The project was funded, and I was prepared to leave for Indonesia when suddenly, I received information that local fishermen could not catch enough crabs for me to conduct research. At such a late date, this was incredibly stressful news!

Around this time, I began to wonder if I could picture myself in the biological sciences or if I should make a step towards the field of social science. During my travels around the world, I was always interested (and often shocked) to observe the interaction between humans and nature. A few years ago, I travelled to southeast Asia to study whale shark populations. While studying these majestic creatures, I noticed the interactions occurring between tourists and the whale sharks. I had moments where I was frustrated, angry, and emotional, seeing whale sharks startle tourists who would fearfully kick and hit the whale sharks. Not only did I get angry at the tourists but at the local people working in this industry; however, after getting to know the locals and seeing their dismal economic situation, I began to think differently. I wanted to understand local people and their problems. I realized that in order to make a difference, you need to incorporate social sciences into environmental science, so that both can find a way to live in harmony.

Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics

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The Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics project was proposed to help address the United Nations Ocean Decade Challenge to “understand the effects of multiple stressors on ocean ecosystems, and develop solutions to monitor, protect, manage and restore ecosystems and their biodiversity under changing environmental, social and climate conditions.” Our project focuses primarily on conserving tropical marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves, as well as incorporating measurable actions that communities can use to reach their conservation goals.

On the Global Reef Expedition, we saw that, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDC), there was not only a lack of scientific information, but also a lack of ocean literacy, particularly regarding local ecosystems. The Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics project will leverage our existing scientific data and outreach programs, partnering with universities, non-profit organizations, governments, and communities to help raise awareness and improve conservation of these fragile marine ecosystems. We will be addressing not only the lack of scientific knowledge, but also use outreach programs to improve community wide ocean literacy to help influence behavior change…

A New Mangrove Conservation Program: Mangrove DEALs

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In 2018, we partnered with Alligator Head Foundation to implement our Jamaica Awareness of Mangroves in Nature (J.A.M.I.N.) program in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Through this program, we have educated teachers and youth about the mangrove ecosystem. Although this initiative has …

Announcing 2021 Science Without Borders® Challenge Semi-finalists – Ages 15-19

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Two days ago, we announced the semi-finalists of the 2021 Science Without Borders® Challenge for students participating in the 11-14 year old category. Today, we are thrilled to announce the semi-finalists in the older group of students 15-19 years of age.

This international student art contest engages students in important marine science and conservation issues through art. The theme of this year’s challenge is “The Magic of Mangroves,” and students were asked to illustrate one or more of the benefits mangroves provide to people, other organisms, or the environment. They did not disappoint.

Once again, our judges were put to the test to make some incredibly difficult decisions evaluating the almost 330 pieces of artwork entered in this category. They came to a consensus to include 34 of these entries as semi-finalists. Like with the younger semi-finalists group, students used a variety of styles, techniques and media to portray the importance of mangroves. Some students created artwork that illustrates mangroves in their local community, while others drew inspiration from far off places. Overall, students in this category ranged from 13 different countries.

We would now like to invite you to meet our 15-19 year old semi-finalists:

Announcing 2021 Science Without Borders® Challenge Semi-finalists – Ages 11-14

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is delighted to announce the first round of semi-finalists for the younger category of students ages 11-14 years old, who participated in our 2021 Science Without Borders® Challenge. Each year we choose a different conservation focused theme for the contest. For the first time in its history, we chose a theme related to mangroves called “The Magic of Mangroves.” We asked students to create a piece of art that illustrates how mangroves are important.

Education Partner Teacher Profile: Lianna Burrows

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In honor of International Education Week, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation has chosen to profile Lianna Burrows at Friends of the Environment (FRIENDS). Lianna works with us on our Bahamas Awareness of Mangroves (B.A.M.) program, which teaches students about mangrove forests while helping them restore this vital ecosystem.

J.A.M.I.N. Students’ Discovery a First for Port Antonio

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Despite an earthquake, our resilient J.A.M.I.N. students from Port Antonio and Titchfield High Schools were back in their classrooms and ready to investigate the presence of mangrove disease earlier this year. Our students were the first to research the occurrence of mangrove disease in Port Antonio, Jamaica. They were ready and eager to begin.

Mangrove Tannin: What is it?

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In January, our second-year J.A.M.I.N. students were tasked with collecting a variety of growth measurements from the mangrove trees that they tagged and identified inside their quadrats. Before we started, I wanted to review the characteristics that are unique to each species of mangroves, a skill they learned previously during the first year of the program. I decided to quiz the students instead. “How can we identify the red mangrove?” I asked. The replies came quickly. “Prop and drop roots.” “Pointy, thick leaves.” “Green bean-like propagules.” All correct. But among the flurry of eager replies, one stood out as several students shouted in unison. “Red tannin!”