Everyday PeopleOctober 10 2011
For a tiny island just 14 miles by 21, it is quite amazing the range of activities that take place daily out here, 13 degrees North of the equator, in the Caribbean sea.
The Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies is located just ouside the city on the West coast. It currently has a role of approximately 8000 students who study disciplines ranging from Education and Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, to Medical, Pure and Aplied sciences.
Hazel Oxenford, professor of Marine Ecology and Fisheries, of the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, is currently working with several students on aspects of the conch fishery here in Barbados. With CERMES student, Caroline Gooding, she is studying the reproductive biology and movement patterns of adult conch. This entails frequent visits to their marine habitat.
One of her allies in this project is Kamal, an everyday bajan diver/fisherman with an exceptional conservation ethic and keen interest in research. He volunteers to keeps an eye on their research animals, tracking their progress almost daily.
Kamal free dives in some 35 feet of water to monitor their activities as he also ferrets out octopus (seacats) for an eager market. Today he has also brought to the surface some small, empty conch shells.
These tiny conchs were eaten by octopus who suck them clean out of their shells. Young conch are very vulnerable to natural predators at this size, before they have had a chance to grow a larger, stronger shell and reach maturity, a process that typically takes three to four years.