Crooked Island

February 1st, 2016
By hsingleton

In March of 2015, our team (David Steadman, Angelo Soto-Centeno, Nancy Albury, Michael Albury, Harlan Gough, Kelly Delancy, Hayley Singleton, and Neil Duncan) went to Crooked Island to explore caves for intact fossil material, archaeological sites, and bats. After our departure, Janet Franklin and her students, Julie Ripplinger and Pep Serra, from ASU arrived on the island to study the vegetation and landscape ecology.

Crooked Island is a remote island located in the southern Bahamas and has a population of around 250 persons. It is quite a unique place and we found ourselves right at home in Alsette’s cottages and eating delicious meals at Bernard’s. The island itself is remarkably preserved and we encountered all types of wildlife including sea turtles, land crabs, and many species of fish and birds. On this trip, we excavated the sediment in a small cave and found many other caves with abundant fossil material to excavate for study in the near future. Angelo, Neil, and Harlan also were able to study bats from numerous roosts on the island as well.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Joaquin hit Crooked Island directly in late September causing severe damage. The Crooked Islanders are in the process of rebuilding now. Once the island infrastructure is up and running, we will surely return for another exciting research expedition.

Excavations at Maidenhair Fern Cave:

IMG_6220maidenhaireveryone   Kellyscreendave_measuring

Preserved extinct crocodile fossils located in 1702 Cave:

IMG_6328IMG_6335IMG_6322

Angelo and Harlan conducting bat research:

IMG_6060 harlanbat bat

Abundant wildlife found in the mangroves:

kingfisherfishangelokellyturtleharlangiantcrab

Osprey Cave:

crookedeipctropicbird

Alsette’s cottages overlooking a beautiful bay:

allsetesdavecottage

UF/AMNH team (left) and the ASU team (right).

DSC00748DSC00755

Vertebrate community on an ice-age Caribbean island

January 18th, 2016
By hsingleton

crookedeipcfigure

Our study that outlined changes to the vertebrate community on a Bahamian island during the late Pleistocene was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The PNAS publication and news articles can be found below:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

UF News: Ancient fossils reveal humans were greater threat than climate change to Caribbean wildlife

The Washington Post: Scuba divers in Bahamas find trove of extinct animal fossils and clues to a scientific mystery

Los Angeles Times: Underwater fossils on shrunken Bahamian island hold key to Ice Age extinctions

The New York Times: A Case Study of Climate Change vs. Human Activity

Abaco field research, December 2015

January 11th, 2016
By hsingleton

The first week of December, a group of us (David Steadman, Janet Franklin, Harlan Gough, Nicole Cannarozzi, and Hayley Singleton) went to Abaco to conduct research. We arrived to stay at the brand new Kenyon research center which is a great facility run by FRIENDS. On our trip, we visited Sawmill Sink to watch Brian Kakuk dive to recover more fossil material.

IMG_0096IMG_0144

We also cored at Witch Point,  assessed the extent of ancient peat deposits at Gilpin Point, visited Big Lake Cay, and explored Hole-in-the-Wall cave.

IMG_0105IMG_0192

DSC01388IMG_0210

We visited many areas on Abaco to try to locate paleontological and archaeological sites that have minimal documentation and very little known. In the photos below, we located a Lucayan site eroding during high tide that is in danger of washing away completely.

DSCN0155 Site near Green Turtle Ferry test pit 2DSCN0167 Site near Green Turtle Ferry Harlan screeningIMG_0404

We were also able to visit the Hole-in-the-the-wall Lighthouse on the southern end of Great Abaco, along with Owl Hole, and Ralph’s Cave.

IMG_0224DSCN0133 Owl HoleDSCN0102 Ralphs Cave Nancy Nicole

We had plenty of time in the evening to use the new lab at the center to prepare bird skeletons and skins and to pick fossils from Sawmill Sink matrix. We even found a local visitor staying warm in one of our screens, this Abaco boa was ready for its big debut!

IMG_2518 lab bird prepIMG_0174IMG_0169

All in all, we had a very productive trip to Abaco. Upcoming research trips to the Bahamas will be posted here so stay tuned!