Beneath the Waves

Beneath the Waves Pays Courtesy Call on Minister of Education, Discusses Ideas for Bringing Marine Biology and Sharks into the Classroom

A team of marine biologists and filmmakers got the undivided attention of Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd during a virtual courtesy call May 21 as the minister vowed to do all he could to make marine science a greater part of the national curriculum as early as next fall.

The commitment to expanding curriculum from the youngest ages and earliest levels on to include a deeper understanding of the importance of marine resources, climate change and what it means to “live in the middle of an ocean” came during a meeting with renowned marine scientist Dr. Austin Gallagher, bottom left, and Jamie Fitzgerald, top right, Managing Director of Beneath the Waves. Members of the organization have been involved with marine research projects in The Bahamas for over a decade and Beneath The Waves works closely with Discovery Channel to produce footage for Shark Week.

Dr. Gallagher, who has been diving in The Bahamas his whole life, has produced some 90 peer-reviewed publications about threatened species, including sharks but says the critical path going forward takes the combined efforts of so many other individuals and organizations who have been working tirelessly toward protection of marine resources.

During the courtesy call, the education minister recalled a submersible experience he had on a visit to the Island School in Eleuthera, calling the world he saw deep beneath the surface “a life-changing moment,” and applauding the dedication of divers and scientists like Dr. Gallagher who are bringing greater understanding of that life to the public. Founded in 2013 as a non-profit organization, Beneath The Waves promotes ocean health through science and technology to assist with or help inform policies to create sustainable oceans and livelihoods for generations to come. The NGO focuses on shark conservation and marine protected areas, and collaborates extensively with Bahamian organisations as well as local businesses, experts, and fishers.

The virtual courtesy call was coordinated by Diane Phillips, top left, whose family commitment helped in the broad-based fight to save sea turtles, resulting in the 2008 legislation to prohibit the capture, sale, possession or harvesting of the marine reptiles. That legislation took effect in 2009. Two years later, The Bahamas became only the fourth country in the world to be a shark sanctuary.

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