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Eco Island Experience - Q & A


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How do I get there?

Our travel agent will assist you with purchasing your airline tickets to Ft. Lauderdale. You will connect with our charter airline in Ft. Lauderdale and fly with the group to the Bahamas. Wild Studies staff will greet you at the airport in the Bahamas, assist with bags, and arrange transportation.


Where will I stay?

Participants will live aboard a floating research facility called Eco Island. Eco Island is a state of the art eco friendly two level facility complete with separate male and female living quarters, a dining area which converts to a classroom, a wet lab for research projects and animal observation, and a separate living are for wild studies staff. Alternative and clean energy sources include solar, hyrdo power, and wind as well as eco friendly septic and reverse osmosis technology for drinking water. The environment will be considered first in all aspects of the program from meal production to waste.






Do I need travel insurance?

Yes. Wild Studies requires each participant purchases an inexpensive travel insurance policy that covers trip cancellation, missed connection, trip interruption and delay, and emergency medical evacuation and treatment. Click here for more information on travel insurance Moreover, due to weather, unannounced government rules changes, unreliable freight shipping and airline schedule changes, or other forces beyond our control, any planned schedule or activity may have to change or be cancelled without notice. Airline tickets are purchased in your individual names and are your property once paid for. Subsequent schedule changes, route cancellations, or other complications are beyond our control. Hence it is the named individual’s responsibility to handle such matters directly with the airline.

What will I eat?

Our program includes 3 meals daily. Because of the remote island location and short growing seasons, nearly all food items must be brought in by ship. Therefore availability of some items may be limited. Breakfasts will consist of coffee, tea, juice, fruit, toast with jelly and peanut butter, bagels and cream cheese, and either pancakes, French toast, or scrambled eggs and potatoes or sausage. Sandwiches or hot dogs along with pasta salads, casseroles, watermelon, chips, or cookies comprise our lunch menu, whether packed to take along or eaten at the Institute. Peanut butter and jelly is always available. Sandwiches typically are deli meats, tuna, egg, or crab salad, chicken, PBJ, or hot dogs.

Evening meals can vary but typical dinners would be spaghetti and meatballs, beef and bean burritos, oven fried chicken with mashed potatoes, or pizzas. Salad and dessert is included and we always have vegetarian variation available. From time to time we will be visiting other islands; you may purchase a small amount of personal snack foods. Quantities of personal foodstuffs must be kept to a minimum due to very limited storage space. Water and Kool-Aid or punch are always available.


What do I need to bring?

A packing list will be provided to you. Don’t over pack! Most activities require only bathing suits or shorts and a t-shirt. Your bag must be soft-sided and a duffel type bag is best (total allowed baggage is 40 pounds. This 40 pounds does not includes your carry-on/backpack). Any bags weighing more than 40 pounds will have to be lightened or left behind. Our charter planes can accommodate only a limited amount of weight.


Do I need snorkel gear?

No. We provide mask, fins, and snorkel, although you are welcome to bring your own if you wish to do so. You will need to purchase an inexpensive pair of hard-soled dive booties for use with our fins. Do not bring barefoot fins. We enter and exit dive sites on rocky and sharp terrain. For groups participating March to May, a 2-3mm wetsuit is highly recommended. The air temperature is warm but the water is cool. Students participating June-August, we recommend a rash guard or dive skin. If you have impaired vision, you may want to consider and extra set of disposable contact lenses for use inside your mask. SCUBA divers may bring their own gear. SCUBA is not a normal part of our eco education program but outside trips may be arranged for certified divers for an additional fee. Parent permission is required. Ask us for details.


What is a typical day?

Each morning the program director meets with students and chaperones over breakfast to discuss the day’s adventure. Each activity is preceded by a half hour lecture and discussion covering topics of marine biology and island ecology as well as an outline of the particular issues related to the site being explored. Activities continue throughout the day with an hour or two of free time before and after dinner that allows for plenty of sun, sand and surf. Evenings consist of a short class session, reviews of the day’s activities, informal discussion, and lectures, and slide presentations.





What is included?

Airfare from Ft. Lauderdale, personalized goal-oriented marine ecology and free diving instruction, all equipment, you’re snorkeling/dive logbook, snorkeling guide to the Caribbean field guide, and a Wild Studies T-shirt. The Bahamian departure tax of $15.00, tips for baggage handlers at the airport, and taxi fare to and from the airport are also included. You will want to bring some personal cash (typically $150.00 is sufficient) for candy, snacks and souvenirs.


What documents will I need?

A valid passport is mandatory.


Do I need any vaccines?

Proof of vaccinations is not required to travel to the Bahamas or to return to the States from the Bahamas. However, it is a good idea to make certain all basic vaccinations, such as tetanus/diphtheria, are up-to-date. Malaria is not a problem here. However, always check with your doctor first and the Center for Disease Control website at: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/


Is there a telephone?

There is a phone for EMERGENCY CONTACT ONLY. The old adage “no news is goods news” definitely applies here. Each GROUP may bring ONE laptop with a wireless card to use at our facility. Contact your group leader to see if a laptop will be available. You can also see photos and read stories of the daily activities by going to www.wildstudies.com each day. Weather and technology permitting, the staff will post photos and blogs every evening.


What skills do I need to participate?

Any moderate to strong swimmer can have a wonderful time here, just snorkeling and floating on the surface, soaking in the natural beauty below. If you are a little more advanced and adventurous we will teach you the skills needed to free dive (holding your breath). We set no goals or requirements, but by free diving, you will greatly enhance your experiences by being able to observe and photograph up close the marine life you'll be studying all week. When you arrive at this skill level, many students are issued one additional piece of equipment, a quick release weight belt. Just 2 - 4 lb. will make descents much easier, increase bottom time, and enable you to explore the many tunnel-like swim throughs through-out the reef. There is never any pressure to exceed your own comfort level, we have flotation vests if requested, and additional instruction and supervision should it be needed.


What role does the group leader /chaperone play? (student programs only)

Group leaders and chaperones are student-guests just like anyone else. They do no teaching and are not permitted to guide, supervise, or lead student groups on land or in the water. They are, however, The point of contact for participants before and during the trip, responsible for student discipline, including enforcing lights out time in the evening, and ensuring prompt and full attendance at all gatherings.


Is it safe?

Safety is a difficult question. No outdoor adventure is safe. This is an eco adventure educational trip. Adventure does not come without some risk. This trip is not as safe as sitting home watching TV or playing with a computer. You are out experiencing nature, and nature can be unpredictable and dangerous. Since our beginning in 1992, with the training, rules, and procedures we have installed, we have never had an incident more serious than a minor scrape or split toenail. Please follow our rules and help keep it that way.


What about emergency medical care?

Emergency air evacuation is available, but can take several hours to arrive. We do carry a cell phone so we can locate the nearest help, but be assured there is no service like we are used to in the US.


How do we get around?

The Exuma Islands are known for their pristine reefs, mangroves, and island ecosystems because getting to many of the islands are accessible only by boat. Participants will spend much of their time on Eco Island, a floating research facility and transportation will be via open air motor craft and kayak.


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