Located on the east coast of Andros Island, Forfar Field Station (Forfar) sits in North Blanket Sound just south of Stafford Creek. The station itself is right on the beach and at any moment you are steps away from the ocean. The property includes four cabins, a motel unit, maintenance and wood shop, and dive shop. Our main lodge houses the kitchen, dining room, classroom, and research area. We are capable of housing up to fifty guests at one time. We are outfitted with three boats and have two 15-passenger vans, a truck, two minivans, and our super reliable Geo Tracker.
Forfar has evolved over the decades housing all walks of life. In the 1960’s and 70’s the now field station was actually one of two dive operations on Andros, the other being Small Hope Bay. In the early days the facility was run by Archie Forfar and his wife. After Archie’s untimely death in a record attempting deep dive, the station switched hands and was eventually purchased by Dr. Ben Bohl who named the place Forfar Field Station. Today the facility is owned and operated by an Ohio based Non-Profit called International Field Studies (internationalfieldstudies.com), or IFS, which Ben serves as the Executive Director. Since then, Forfar has been a gathering place for not only students and divers, but researchers looking to study the pristine island of Andros and surrounding marine environment.
One of our many goals at IFS and Forfar is to provide students the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning in tropical ecosystems. For example, a typical day for an educational group includes traveling with our staff to learn about oceanic blue holes, patch reefs and the Tongue of the Ocean. We also focus on island geology, botany, ornithology, inland blue holes and the culture of Androsians. Our staff tries to remain as flexible as possible to reach every group’s daily goals. For example, we had an amazing group from Gahanna, Ohio who were particularly interested in the art culture of Andros Island. Though this was a bit different from our normal routine, we were able to accommodate their requests.
So we reached out to Henry Wallace, a Master Woodcarver from Red Bays to come to the station and teach wood carving for a few hours. Henry ended up staying the entire day and helped every last student with their wood carving. They were also able to visit Androsia (www.androsia.com) and learn batiking during the morning. Lastly, we had our wonderful neighbor Miss Annie come and instruct the students on how to weave a basket using the local thatch palm. This is not a typical trip but it shows not only the flexibility of our operation but the great relationship we have with the local community.I titled this “Reintroducing Forfar” to open our doors to new possibilities and attempt to facilitate more research through the station. Educating visiting students and Bahamians is paramount for our organization but we would like to evolve. We feel that the opportunities are endless here on Andros Island and educating interested parties on their environment, especially with the potential expansion of the national park on the west side. If done correctly we can also facilitate outreach and education to Bahamian scientists, fishermen, politicians and all people interested in the future of this island. Just in the past month we had Brian Langerhans (http://gambusia.zo.ncsu.edu/index.html) and his group from NC State collaborating with a researcher from Ohio State University Erin Lindstedt (http://hamilton-lab.wikidot.com/lab-personnel). Their focus was to continue examining the behavioral differences of the genus Gambusia and to understand their relationship between low and high predation blue holes. In addition to that research, Ian Hamilton (http://eeob.osu.edu/people/hamilton) from OSU began preliminary testing to understand the risk/reward choices Gambusia make regarding the availability of food versus shelter. To study these fish the researchers have to travel inland on logging roads to access the remote blue holes. While the “Gambusia” crew were collecting their data and running experiments we had two graduate students from St. Francis University investigating a local patch reef known as Dave’s Place. The two graduate students conducted fish surveys and measured the size of all the hard coral throughout the reef. Ultimately, they would like to establish a long term study to document changes of Dave’s Place.
We also have established relationships with The Bahamian National Trust (BNT), Andros Conservancy and Trust (ANCAT), The National Audubon Society, and The Nature Conservancy. Just last week I was fortunate enough to assist staff from BNT and the Department of Marine Resources (Nassau) in conducting a Lionfish population survey and conducting fish counts noting size and abundance on patch reefs east of Central Andros. We are already planning on working with these organizations on another survey in November 2012. In the future, Forfar staff will continue to assist ANCAT with the clean-up of Fresh Creek. Not only will we contribute supplies but also divers to assist in removing underwater debris.
Forfar will help in any way possible with both visiting researchers and students. Whether it’s driving a truck back to a remote blue hole to carry a large cooler of water for fish transport, to serving as a snorkel buddy, we try to be as flexible as possible to make sure all of the research and educational goals are met. So with all this said, we welcome any and all inquiries about Forfar and Andros Island. Please feel free to contact me, Ian Conboy, at Forfar Field Station through our email address firstname.lastname@example.org or the headquarters in Columbus, Ohio at (614)268-9930.