So what do Barbudan children do for the summer? They go to camp! Similar to the U.S., Barbuda offers a month long summer camp program to children from ages 4-17. The camp provides several day trips for the children which include; beach trips, exploring of the local caves, trips to the dentist, and guest speakers. For the last couple years, we have been invited to speak to the children about our research on the island.
This year we changed it up a bit and did something special for children. I was able to bring a hands on activity that we use at the aquarium that demonstrates nesting strategies and predation concerns for sea turtles. Campers were asked to speak about their knowledge of the local sea turtle populations and the issues that they may face in Barbuda. It was amazing to see how informed some of them were, and the thoughtful questions they came up with. Everyone had fun with the interactive activity.
One of our objectives is to educate the island’s children about the importance of biodiversity so they can be effective stewards of this beautiful island into the future.In addition to working with the local children of the island, we are lucky enough to work with folks from the Codrington Lagoon National Park and Fisheries Division of Antigua and Barbuda. The Barbudan park rangers help assist us with the logistics of our research and in exchange we provide them with our data findings and interpretation. We have also trained a few of them how to measure water quality, identify sea turtle crawls and provided them with materials to aid them in identifying local species.
We see outreach as an important endeavor while on the island. Our goal is to ensure that we make the effort to form connections and relationships with the local people while completing sound science.
Meet the Researcher
Maxine Montello started working at the Maritime Aquarium in 2008. She is currently the primary Aquarist for all our reptile and amphibian exhibits. Before starting in the Aquarist department, she worked in Education on the research vessel. Maxine has a Masters in Wildlife Ecology and Environmental Science from Pace University and her thesis focused on site selection of nesting sea turtles on the island of Barbuda. In addition, Maxine is an Adjunct Professor of Biology at Manhattanville College. Maxine will be continuing her sea turtle research in Barbuda this July. Stay tuned for weekly updates and amazing photos!