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Bahamas

San Salvador Island

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Conservation benefit: Ongoing conservation of the 17,000-acre San Salvador Island Protected Areas

Community benefit: Signage and touch tanks

Date Approved: 02.2015

Mangroves

This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

Ocean

This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Seagrass

This project protects seagrass, which traps more CO2 than any other marine ecosystem, slowing global warming.

Tourists flock to San Salvador Island’s 30 popular dive sites. The sites showcase a wide range of habitats, from elkhorn coral reefs to spectacular wall communities. Protected areas include habitat for the critically endangered San Salvador rock iguana (supported by a Seacology-funded iguana headstart facility in 2011), mangroves, and seagrass beds. They also boast the greatest diversity of seabirds of anywhere in the Bahamas. Local NGOs and community members are pressing the government to declare the area a National Land and Sea Park System.

Working with the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation, (BREEF), Seacology is funding signage at the San Salvador Airport to educate visitors on their way to the protected areas. In addition, Seacology is providing funds for two portable touch tanks. BREEF will use the touch tanks to engage visitors at the airport and children at local schools.  Locals will get to touch a cushion star, sea urchin, living tulip shell, and other species – a rare experience for most San Salvadorian children.

Project Updates

December 2017

The touch tank continues to be well used in environmental education efforts. Students from Georgia College International Education Center recently went to San Salvador and used the touch tank in their programs at elementary schools. They reported that the children were “captivated” by the touch tank, which let them touch and see sea life.

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November 2017

With a BREEF-trained teacher in every school across the country, this project has come to a successful close. The Seacology-funded touch tank was a key element in teacher training as well as student education.

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May 2017

The touch tank and interpretive signs were unveiled during an event at the San Salvador International Airport on May 18. About 80 people attended the opening. Our partner, the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation, will take the tank on the road to bring marine creatures, and hands-on environmental education, to schoolchildren and teachers around the island.

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January 2017

The touch tank (“Sea Bus”) has been shipped and assembled. (The original project called for two touch tanks, but our partner later decided that only one large tank was needed,) BREEF is creating educational materials to be used in presentations at schools, teacher training workshops, and summer camps. The materials will feature information about the five new marine protected areas that were announced for San Salvador last year.

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May 2016

Installation of the touch tanks, delayed when Hurricane Joaquin destroyed the San Salvador airport, should happen in June. Our partner, Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation, (BREEF) will incorporate the touch tanks into its summer teacher training workshops and Sea Camps. BREEF hopes to get the signs made and installed in the autumn, after hurricane season, but timing depends on the progress of the airport repairs.

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January 2016

This project was on track—and then Hurricane Joaquin hit in October 2015, battering the island for 72 hours. The storm seriously damaged the airport, where the signs were to be put up, and the site where the touch tanks were to be installed. The delay actually saved the signs and tanks, which would have certainly been destroyed had they already been installed. They are being held by our partner organization, the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF) until they can be shipped, in February 2016 at the earliest.

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