PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONThe School for Field Studies (SFS) Turks & Caicos: Marine Protected Areas: Management Techniques and Policies Summer program provides students with the opportunity to explore the effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) in maintaining biodiversity and critical habitats, enhancing stocks of queen conch and spiny lobster, and contributing effectively to the socioeconomic sustainability of the local community.
The British-governed Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) lie at the southeastern end of the Bahamian archipelago. The turquoise waters surrounding TCI are abundant with marine life and are considered to be among the world’s top 10 diving destinations. Nearly 50 species of corals, as well as spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, sharks, groupers, and snappers, are easily spotted in the clear warm waters just steps away from our field station.This relatively healthy ecosystem supports much of the community on the island of South Caicos, with fisheries providing the primary source of livelihood. However, pollution and increased extraction of precious marine resources, coupled with large-scale, unsustainable tourism and industrial development, is very likely going to inflict irreparable damage on this delicate ecosystem. Depletion of key resources would have a dramatic impact on employment and social structure on the island of South Caicos. Developing sustainable fisheries is essential if this resource-dependent community is to survive.
As part of this summer study abroad program in the Turks and Caicos, students will learn about artificial reef technology to enhance or restore reef habitats. Students support the work of our clients and stakeholders, who range from local fishers to members of key government agencies. Our goal is to conduct relevant field research that can be used to develop state of the art environmental policies, MPA management plans, and community projects.
FIELD RESEARCH, LECTURES, AND EXERCISES
- East Harbour Lobster and Conch Reserve
- Bell Sound Nature Reserve and Fish Cay
- Admiral Cockburn Land and Sea National Park (Shark Alley, Long Cay, Dove Cay, Admirals Aquarium), and a mangrove island
- Island tour of a large-scale, local tourism development construction site
- Students will also meet marine resource managers, learn practical field skills, and gain insight into cultural perceptions by speaking with members of the South Caicos community
COMMUNITY FOCUSOur program in South Caicos is oriented toward helping the community conserve its natural resources and develop sustainably. With our field station located within the community of South Caicos, SFS students enjoy a warm welcome into the community. There are opportunities to interview fishermen and other residents during academic projects, learn about the local culture, and participate in sporting events and community service projects.
The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies, located just steps from a crystal clear ocean laboratory, is adjacent to Cockburn Harbour, a town of about 1,100 residents. Our field station sits on elevated land about 40 feet above the water and looks directly out over the sea. Within a three-mile radius are coral reefs, mangrove islands, sea grass beds, carbonate platform flats, and deep-water diving.
The main facility has a dining area, kitchen, classroom, computer room, and a veranda with spectacular ocean views. Students share living quarters in two residence wings. We are fully equipped for marine operations with access to docks, motor boats, a compressor, and plenty of tanks and weights for SCUBA diving.