Marine Ecology and Sustainability

During this trip, students will have the opportunity to travel to the islands of The Bahamas for eight days. For the first two days, students will engage with local non profits in Nassau to understand the complexities and impacts of tourism.  Students will then travel to Cape Eleuthera  where they will spend a week  investigating the island’s varied habitats alongside educators and researchers from The Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) while living their lives mindful of their environmental impact. They will immerse themselves in environmental, place-based education, marine ecology, and sustainable living.  

The island of Eleuthera is known for its pink sand beaches, its unspoiled natural landscape and its history as the founding island of The Bahamas. Students will experience wonder and a sense of place as they explore the coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangroves accessible from campus. Alongside researchers at CEI, students will have the chance to take part in ongoing research efforts to conserve the species that these habitats support. This could involve encounters with sea turtles, lionfish, stingrays, or maybe even sharks in their natural environment. The connection between developing a strong sense of place and taking action to protect that place will be a key focus of this trip. The CEI campus honors its research efforts by maintaining an ethos of sustainability. Students will spend time learning about aquaponics systems, biodiesel production, or sustainable farming and food security. Throughout the trip, students are asked to be mindful of their environmental impact while they are guests at CEI by minimizing waste, reducing electricity use and conserving water.

Program Notes

  • Students are expected to minimize wastewater production and electricity consumption throughout their daily activities. This means that:
    • This is an “unplugged” trip where students will not have access to cell phones or internet for the duration of their time in The Bahamas.
    • Students may not bring their own snacks to the CEI campus. Most meals will be prepared by CEI in their dining hall, where the kitchen team emphasizes sustainable practices and reduction of food waste.
  • Deerfield students will live together in open-style dormitory separated by gender with several bunks per room. There is no air conditioning.
  • Depending on your nationality, a tourist visa may be required to travel to The Bahamas. Please click here to check if you will need a tourist visa to visit The Bahamas.
  • Please note: This trip conflicts with the June 3 SAT test date.
  • Families are responsible for transportation from U.S.-based airport to the student’s final destination at the end of the trip.
  • Students and faculty leaders will update families and friends at home through our Notes From The Field blog. 

Program Dates

May 30 – June 7, 2023

Program Eligibility

This program is open to current 9th, 10th and 11th grade students with a preference towards those who have a demonstrated interest in marine ecology, sustainability and/or other environmental issues. All interested students are encouraged to apply by November 6. Financial Aid is available to all qualifying students. 

Faculty Trip Leaders

  • Heidi Valk; Steven Lee

Approx. trip cost $4,000 (*includes estimated roundtrip airfare from NY/NE based airport)

Deerfield Academy’s Center for Service and Global Citizenship strives to make all of our travel programs affordable and accessible for all students while ensuring a high quality global education experience. While the costs of travel around the world have been rising steadily over the past several years, all of our trips are subsidized, and thanks to the generosity of many we are able to provide robust financial aid for qualifying students.

Helpful links

2023 Itinerary

*This itinerary is subject to change.

May 30: Depart Deerfield and fly out of a NE/NY based airport to Nassau

May 30 – May 31: Group activities in Nassau engaging with local non-profits

June 1 – 6: Fly from Nassau to Cape Eleuthera

Typical Schedule June 1– 6 (*subject to change):

  • Early morning, begin the day with group exercise, such as biking, swimming, or running.
  • Breakfast
  • Morning lab activity or ecology adventure
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon research and/or excursions around the island, such as beach clean ups, campus exploration & discussions, and more.
  • Dinner
  • Evening research tutorial/lectures and activities such as lionfish dissection, a night hike and bonfire

Other potential topics include: plastics, sustainable fisheries, food security, permaculture, aquaponics, aquaculture, tourism, coral reefs and mangrove ecology.

June 7: Fly back to NE/NY based Airport**

** Families are responsible for transportation from U.S.-based airport to the student’s final destination at the end of the trip.

Notes From The Field

The Bahamas 2019

The Bahamas #7: Down Island

Charlie Sinnott (’21) and Zach Davis (’20) share their experience traveling Down Island on Eleuthera, visiting an ocean hole, the Bethel farm, and Navy Base Beach.

The Bahamas #8: Final Reflections on Sustainability

For 1 week, 12 students traveled to the Cape Eleuthera Institute to explore the marine ecosystems. of Eleuthera while deepening their understanding of the realities and challenges of sustainability. Here are excerpts from the students’ final reflections on sustainability. 

The Bahamas 2018

The Bahamas #7: The Ripple Effect

Bailyn Prichett (’19) & Erin Tudryn (’18) recount their last day exploring the marine environment around Eleuthera and share some take aways from the trip, including what they hope to do once back at DA.