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College students meet cahow on Nonsuch Island

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Terrestrial conservation officer Jeremy Madeiros with a male cahow chick on Nonsuch Island (Photograph by Stefano Ausenda)

Students and staff from the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts enjoyed a close encounter with one of the world’s rarest seabirds on Nonsuch Island.

Jeremy Madeiros, a senior terrestrial conservation officer with the Nonsuch Preservation Project, introduced the school’s Sustainability and Small Islands class to a male cahow chick when they visited the 16.5-acre nature reserve on Wednesday.

The cahow, also known as the Bermuda petrel, was rediscovered on rocky islets in 1951 – more than 300 years after it was thought to have been wiped out — and a record-breaking 25 chicks hatched on Nonsuch Island this year.

Mr Madeiros also showed the 14-student class an adult male longtail and two chicks on the island reserve.

Terrestrial conservation officer Jeremy Madeiros holds a male longtail on Nonsuch Island (Photograph by Stefano Ausenda)

One chick, Odie, was about two months old and the other, which the students named Jamie, hatched between three and four weeks ago.

As it is difficult to determine the gender of longtails until they are fully fledged, the class chose a gender-neutral name.

Vincent Rougeau, the president of Holy Cross, and Karen Grissette, the United States Consul-General in Bermuda, accompanied the class on the visit.

Sustainability and Small Islands, led by Bermudian Justin McAlister and Kelly Wolfe-Bellin, explores how islands such as Bermuda use and generate energy compared with the US.

Students and staff from the Sustainability and Small Island course with US Consul-General Karen Grissette, Vincent Rougeau, president of College of the Holy Cross, and senior terrestrial conservation officer Jeremy Madeiros on Nonsuch Island (Photograph by Stefano Ausenda)

The class is staying at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences dormitories and have visited several other sites of interest including the Tynes Bay Incinerator, Spittal Pond, Cooper’s Island and the airport dump since they arrived on May 25.

Students are scheduled to fly back to the US tomorrow and the professors on Monday.

Dr McAlister, a director of environmental studies at Holy Cross, always wanted to lead a course in Bermuda and was pleased with how it turned out.

He explained: “It was a packed schedule, but we made it work and we look forward to coming back with another class in two years.

“We will see the students’ independent projects on Friday, so it will be interesting to see them organise their thoughts around a particular topic.”

Dr Wolfe-Bellin, director of biology laboratories at Holy Cross, said the course inspired some students to take more biology classes or major in environmental studies when they return to school in September.

Ms Grissette said the course and others stemmed from an appreciation of what Bermuda could offer college students.

She said: “There is no question that Bermuda has institutions, whether it be BIOS, the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo or insurance companies, that are open to engage with American college students.

“The future looks very promising for deepening and broadening those connections.”

Mr Rougeau, who was visiting Bermuda for the first time, highlighted the importance of courses such as Sustainability and Small Islands that take students beyond their campus and comfort zones.

He explained: “The personal and cultural growth that students get from being somewhere that they may experience some discomfort because they are foreign, really helps to expand what and how they learn.”

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Published June 15, 2024 at 7:52 am (Updated June 15, 2024 at 7:52 am)

College students meet cahow on Nonsuch Island

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