TEN marine science students from universities in the UK are currently in Saint Lucia to conduct research on the ecology and economic valuation of natural resources in Rodney Bay and Pigeon Island. The students who have volunteered to conduct this research have been assigned to the Saint Lucia National Trust. The students will be examining the tropical marine eco-systems which are located around Pigeon Island and Rodney Bay. One of the projects which the marine students will be working on is a Sea grass Health Project, in which they will assess the health of the sea grass in the region. The second project that they will embark on is a Coral project under which they will examine the prevalence of coral disease, and the third project is to observe how land sediments can affect the coral around Pigeon Island.
The students, who are all experienced in the field of marine science, will also be looking at the fish in the region to determine whether there are any rare species, and if so, whether they are protected or not. The project, which commenced at the start of September, will run for the rest of the month. So far, the students were reported to have been working in the field by collecting data in collaboration with the National Trust. The group are currently in Saint Lucia through the Volunteering Projects Programme that Caribbean Elective introduced earlier this year. Caribbean Elective, which was founded to provide work placement for students in the Caribbean, introduced the Volunteering Projects Programme as an initiative to support nature conservation and youth development.
Matt Barry, Conservation Projects Co-ordinator for the marine science students, said on Friday September 13th, “Through Caribbean Elective we have expanded massively into multi-faceted, multi-discipline projects; so, we have marine biology students here, we have geography students here and we have chemistry students here as well.” Matt indicated that the students who were presently engaged in voluntary work on the island were all enjoying their experience thus far. The students are currently enrolled at universities such as the University of Birmingham.