These days when asked where I live, my response is often " well, I pay rent in Nassau, BUT, that doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to find me there."  This is of course no complaint, I love The Bahamas, and it is home, and when I am far away I miss the blue skies and perfect waters. However the minute I arrive home I start daydreaming about another trip to a far away land all in the name of coral. What can i say, I have a passion for exploration and love a good story.

Coral, tiny symbiotic animals that have no idea that I or any humans exist, have transformed my life in a weird, I can't sleep, stressed out of my mind, but madly in love with these creatures kind of way. Coral reefs sustain our economy and our lifestyle in The Bahamas and are often taken for granted and their importance overlooked. It is so important that we as Bahamians start to stand up and protect our culture and heritage and this includes all of our natural resources. The reality is that if we don't ensure that we have a healthy environment, we will loose our economic stability and the quality of life that we are all accustomed to will be lowered. This opens the door for more delinquent and unfavorable behavior in the country. It's a reality that we are faced with and as Bahamians we need to take control of our future and shape the country that we want to live in. 

So Back to coral and traveling 1/2 way around the world ( I am going to try and keep this brief because I should be working on my thesis right now, but writing a blog post was a wonderful opportunity for procrastination!)

Bequia 
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Jessica and I meeting with high school students from Bequia

Young Marine Explorers, has been going through some really exciting transformational changes, most of which is "underwater" housekeeping and structural- transforming from the one woman and many intern show to a sustainable organization that will be able to continue offering the programs throughout the country without me actually facilitating them.  This transition hasn't happened over night but we have a great team and Board of Directors that are guiding the organizations work...... which takes me to the whirlwind trip to Bequia. YME is working with an environmental arts organization based in Barbados to develop an Environmental Leadership Exchange programme with students from Bequia in the Grenadines. On my trip down there I met with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Environment in addition to the principles of the two high schools, key island stakeholders and of course the youth!  It was a great start and I am really excited about this inter island cross caribbean YME exchange!


Cambridge 

I spent a month in England  really all in the name of conservation and coral. I attended the Student Conference on Conservation Science at Cambridge University. It was a fantastic experience with brilliant key note speakers and a forum to discuss conservation with other students. My three take home points from the conference are:
  1. Conservation is not perfect - you can't spend your life in the lab ( or in my case in front of the computer) trying to make it perfect, it won't be. For you to be really working in conservation you have to go out there with what you have and do something. Maybe it will work maybe it won't. But you won't know until you get out there and with the information you gather you have to share it with people. Publish it so others can learn from you, we are all working towards a common goal of conserving our planet -we need to learn from each other.
  2. There is so much to learn from talking with your peers- from presentation skills, to applying for doctoral programs or just about challenges and highlights of conservation projects.
  3. There are amazing and passionate people around the world working to secure our health and well being. Some are  working with rhinos, corals, frogs, people  and so much more.... point being is that there is hope and even as we get bogged down in our personal conservation battles there are many others working with you all around the world.

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Opening of SCCS... this was just the beginning !
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Kenya and Bahamas... Frogs and Corals.... EDGE Fellows reunited in Cambridge :)
London
From Cambridge I spent three weeks at the Zoological Society of London working on my thesis.... ( which i really need to get back to so going to try and wrap this up). Those three weeks were an emotional roller coaster, it was hard, i was challenged in ways my mind had never really comprehend before. But i pushed through. I had amazing support from ZSL staff which helped me look at some of my points in a different light which was really good. To say that I would have come this far in the thesis writing without any freak out moments would be like me saying I have come this far without drinking any coffee.... as if haha. 

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The Irish-English Family
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Oh Cameden Town ..... I spent about 4 hours a day commuting....ode to the Tube adventures
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An unexpected high school reunion! From London Ontario to London England :)
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Here we have the Nikita one of the animals in the zoo, happy at home in the ZSL library
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ZSL Interns with our mentor Raj on a wonderful and much needed day at Kew Gardens
Ireland
I left London and my aunt and uncle who took great care of me and went  to Ireland for a 2 day whirl wind trip. There I connected with my irish side of the family who I hadn't seen in about 15 years. We had a crazy family reunion and then I was off back to Nassau.....



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The Shiel cousins minus a few
Nassau
Back to Nassau really means I landed in Nassau went to Exuma the following day to work as a dive master for the weekend...Then to Miami for two weeks where I was chained to a desk and worked on my thesis.....and I am now back in Nassau and with 14 days to go, My birthday present to me, probably the best birthday present I will ever give myself will be to submit my MSc thesis.... It will be a good.... a FANTASTIC day..... but it will only be fantastic if i don't get back to work!

In the name of caffeine, coral and conservation ......... I go back to work to accomplish goals and set in motion bigger dreams..... to publications and PhD's ..... that is all
 


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