by, Austin Lin
At the CIEE Research Station Bonaire, we exercise more than just our educational programs. Research and discovery are also essential parts of our curriculum because the journey to becoming a professional researcher constitutes more than just the theoretical understanding of complex biological concepts. Hence, at CIEE Research Station Bonaire, we promote both student and intern involvement in on-going research projects. On Bonaire, every lunar cycle marks an opportunity for Alatina alata research. This species of cubozoan (box jellyfish) aggregates to spawn at several locations along the shoreline of western Bonaire following the eighth to tenth night after the full moon. However, A. alata are often found washed ashore on the following day, stranded and dissolved after spawning. This observation raises questions about the mysterious life cycle of these native cubozoan.
To further our understanding of A. alata life history, CIEE RSB has begun hosting collection events on spawning nights to invite students, staff, interns, junior rangers, and other volunteers and local experts on cubozoans to participate on this research project. Physical traits of A. alata (length, width, etc) are recorded before the specimens are released into the ocean. This particular research project provides our students and community members with the opportunity to practice and exercise marine science, an exciting intersection of education, research, and community outreach.