Tips for Booking Group Flights

airplane

Purchasing group flights can be a difficult and often unfamiliar process. This post will guide you through our suggested steps for arranging a group flight at a good price and with minimal frustration.

Please keep in mind that flights should arrive in Nassau no later than 1:30 pm and should depart from Nassau after 12:00 pm. Arriving and departing at these times will provide you with enough time to go through immigration and customs, check/pick up your bags, and catch your flight between Nassau and Andros.

Getting Started

We suggest that group leaders start their search for flights with Google Flights. This search engine shows information from several different airlines. You won’t be able to use this tool for booking group flights but it can give you a good idea of a  "baseline" price for 1 passenger and the different routes you can take to your destination. This step will be useful for creating a budget for potential students and for finding airlines that service the route you’re interested in.

Utilizing your Resources

Many schools and universities have an agreement with an outside travel agency and some may even employ in-house travel planners. If these services are provided for your organization we recommend this as your #1 option.

Working Directly with an Airline

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If your organization doesn’t provide travel planning services we suggest that you work directly with an airline provider. Once you find a potential flight through Google Flights you can contact the airline directly for group rates (usually starting at 10 or more tickets). Most airlines have created specific departments for this and you can find airline specific information below.

Contact a Travel Agent

Travel agencies are able to offer group rates, bookings, and assistance (should flights get canceled, delayed or missed), but they usually charge an additional per person fee.

Some of our groups have worked with Uniglobe Travel Designers in the past. Our current contact at Uniglobe Travel Designers is Deb Maloney. She is a Corporate Travel Consultant and can be reached by email at debm@uniglobetd.com or by phone at 614-237-4488 Ext. 589. Other travel agents can be found locally or through a quick Google search.

If you’re still having trouble finding a flight with the provided information, please contact our office. We are happy to look into flight options for your group and provide additional assistance.

Please Welcome the 2017-2018 Season Interns!

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The 2017-2018 Season interns have arrived and training is well underway. This years group of interns have fantastic environmental education, research, and conservation backgrounds including studying sea turtles, sharks, shorebirds, and expertise in geology, fish, and invertebrates. 

We look forward to another great season at Forfar and are confident you'll be very happy with the new educational staff!

Help IFS Improve our Field Station Equipment!

goniolithon_lab

We have been improving our education equipment over the past two years but there are some costly items that we would like to replace.  Items include a new projector screen, new classroom laptop, binoculars, and microscopes (both compound and dissecting).   

We are seeking donations to help us purchase the new educational equipment.  Your donation will go along way and for every $200 that is raised, we will be able to purchase 4 sets of binoculars or one compound microscope.  Every donation, no matter how small, will help us reach our goal of $4,000 to replace these items (including customs and shipping to the Bahamas).

The new equipment will help visiting students spot the rare and endemic birds of Andros and examine the different types of plankton found in Stafford Creek.  As always, environmental education is our focus and these improvements will make the Forfar experience even better!

Click here to Donate!

** All donations are tax deductible **

2017 BNT Ecocamp at Forfar Field Station

BNT-Ecocamp

We are proud to host the annual BNT Eco Camp at Forfar Field Station this week.

Through a competitive selection process, motivated young environmental leaders receive a full scholarship to attend an intense week-long summer camp on Andros Island.

Eco Camp disconnects participants from the hustle and bustle of technology and other services one might take for granted and focuses their attention on natural resources, conservation, and sustainability.

Daily schedules include morning birdwatching walks, interactive classroom presentations, boat rides to unique cays, snorkeling coral reefs and brainstorm sessions to work collaboratively on both an Andros community outreach event and a community project for their home island.

Field trips to Blue Hole National Park to witness the majesty of blue holes for themselves as well as a night’s stay under the stars in the surrounding pine forest fosters an appreciative connection to the unique ecosystems and culture of Andros Island.

Eco Campers experience first-hand that sometimes, one must disconnect from the world, to reconnect with nature.

Join us for a Work Week at Forfar!

IFS will be hosting two upcoming work weeks at the field station in preparation for the 2018 season. These weeks will be dedicated for volunteers interested in helping with work around the station. 
 
When is it?  
The work weeks will be October 14th-21st, 2017 and December 16th-23rd, 2017.  
 
What will volunteers be doing? 
Man-power tends to be a limiting factor at the field station so there are always projects!!  Cardo and his staff will work very hard in the off-season completing some large scale projects (plumbing, tree cutting, etc.) but there are plenty of other projects to be completed.  

The primary focus of the October work week will be roofing and roof repairs. The December work week will include miscellaneous projects that will likely be tasks that include painting the outside of all the cabins and wooden structures, brush clearing, and tree removal.

Most of the work being performed will be hands-on physical labor and/or painting. We recommend bringing a pair of work gloves and clothing that you don't mind getting a little dirty!   Volunteers will work ~6 hours a day.  Your evenings will be free to do what you want and there will be one full boat day to go out snorkeling. 
 
Who can come?
Anyone able-bodied and willing to work hard to improve the field station! If you attend the October work week expect most of the work to be roofing. 
 
How much will it cost? 
Get yourself to the field station and it's free!  We will cover the lodging and food for the week in exchange for your hard work! 
 
If you are interested, please contact Matt at the office with questions (office@intlfieldstudies.org or 614.268.9930) and complete this online Registration Form.

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Facilitating Research at Forfar

A group of 6 students and an instructor from SUNY Oneonta recently finished a 4-week research trip on Andros. 

The students learned about land crabs – a traditional food source that has been threatened by development, disaster, and over-harvesting. 

The data they collected will help to determine land crab fishery stock abundance on North Andros Island as a means of enabling long-term, sustainable harvests of this economically and culturally important food source.

You can learn more about their recent adventure by reading this article or visiting the CCRABSS Facebook page

About Andros Island

Overview of Andros  

Andros is the largest island of the Bahama Archipelago, which consists of more than 700 islands. At more than 100 miles long and 40 miles wide, it is the fifth largest in all of the Caribbean [1]. The sparsely populated Andros is laced with creeks and has a densely forested inland. The island's western coast is still largely uninhabited and is home to the West Side National Park.

Today, compared with other Bahamian islands, Andros has a much smaller population with fewer than 8,000 people [2].  Most of the settlements on Andros Island are located on the eastern coast, with one settlement on the western coast called Red Bays. Because Andros is split in half by cays and inlets, transportation between the north and south islands is not possible by land. 

History and Culture

The eastern coast of Andros island is home to more than half the population centralized in 3 main towns: Nicholl’s Town, Andros Town (aka Fresh Creek), and Congo Town [1]. There also are a number of Mennonite missions, a few small resorts, and the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) - a NATO base run by the US Navy. 

Although Andros is roughly 200 miles off the coast of Florida, the language and culture are distinctly different from the United States. Virtually untouched by the tourism industry common to other Bahamian islands, Andros remains a rural area characterized by small tightly-knit communities.

The history of Andros includes a colorful array of farming, fishing, sponging, and logging, Arawak, Lucayan, and Seminole Indians, European explorers and colonizers, slaves, pirates, bootleggers, and smugglers.

We share a common language, but Bahamian English carries influence from African and island dialects and is often spoken more quickly than standard American English [3].  Visitors who embrace the Androsian people and their culture will be richly rewarded and educated by the experience. The lack of development on Andros enhances its environmental uniqueness and makes it an ideal site for our field station.

Flora and Fauna

Andros lends itself well to terrestrial studies since its size correlates with its diversity. Andros is a subtropical island with at least five distinct vegetation zones. Savannah, coppice, swash, and mangrove areas are all accessible for field studies. In both wetland and forested areas, over 200 endemic and North American birds have been included in long-term bird counts.

Reptiles include the endangered Bahamian boa, several different species of Caribbean Sea turtles, and a variety of anoles. In the summertime, look for land crabs. Along the coast, compare the rocky shores to the white sand beaches and ask to visit some excellent invertebrate tide-pooling areas.

More than 50 species of wild orchids thrive in the subtropical forests and the wetlands of Andros. Commercial flower collectors have been known to set fire to the pineland coppices to collect the sharp-petaled bletias that flourish in ashy soil. The orchid genus Epidendrum has nine species endemic to the Bahamas, all of which can be found on Andros [4].

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Geologists are attracted to many features in the Bahamas, including the thick limestone foundation of the island, dramatically cut by deep channels. The geology and topography of the island is distinctive, with 178 inland and 50 oceanic blue holes and a network of underwater caves [5].

 

 

Andros By Sea

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When people think of the Bahamas, they visualize white sandy beaches, a balmy breeze, and azure, crystal water. Andros has all of these in abundance, but perhaps the barrier reef is the most stunning feature. The Tongue of the Ocean near the reef separates the islands of Andros and New Providence and is a U-shaped trench that varies in depth from 3,600 ft to 6,000 ft. and is approximately 20 miles wide by 150 miles long [6].

Just one of several marine habitats, the reef runs the full length of the island. The Andros reef is the third largest fringing reef in the world, second only to Australia and Belize, and is considered by many to be the most diverse and pristine. The reef has both fringing and barrier characteristics and supports a colorful and amazing diversity of life. It offers a tremendous variety of 10 to 25 foot deep gardens abloom with both hard and soft corals, some of which emerge from the seas at low tide.

You don't need to be a scuba diver to enjoy the benefits of the ocean. Our snorkeling sites described in the “Sites and Sights” guide offer fantastic views of a great variety of fish, coral, and other invertebrates. Exotic fish species that make this place home provide a pleasurable kaleidoscope for divers and snorkelers alike. In the waters off the shores, you will find marlins, tarpons, sailfish, tunas, snappers, jacks, plus other game fish around the barrier reef [6]. Occasionally, snorkelers enjoy the rare privilege of playing with wild dolphins that may join in for a dip off the beach at Forfar.

 
Androsia Fabric

Androsia Fabric

Economy and Culture

The economy on Andros consists of the sponging industry, sport fishing, tourism and diving, wood carving, basket weaving and the production of Batik fabric (Androsia). Androsia is a distinct, bright fabric that is created through a unique process involving hand carved stamps and hot wax.

 

Climate

The temperature on Andros is gorgeous all year long. The single most important climatic agent affecting the Andros weather is the warm trade wind. During the winter months, the Gulf Stream warms the island, in May, southerly trade winds return to gently cool them [7] [8].

Average monthly temperatures:

Average Highs: Jan 77°    Feb 78°    Mar 80°    Apr 82°    May 85°      Jun 87°     Jul 89°     Aug 89°     Sep 88°     Oct 86°    Nov 82°     Dec 79°

Average Lows: Jan 62°    Feb 62°     Mar 64°    Apr 66°    May 70°     Jun 73°     Jul 75°      Aug 75°     Sep 75°     Oct 72°     Nov 68°    Dec 64°

Average water temperatures:

Jan 74°    Feb 74°     Mar 75°     Apr 78°     May 80°     Jun 83°     Jul 85°     Aug 86°     Sep 85°     Oct 83°     Nov 80°    Dec 76°


Citations

[1] "Andros." The Official Site of The Bahamas. The Islands of the Bahamas, 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[2] "Bahamas Andros." City Population. 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[3] "Our Language." The Official Site of The Bahamas. Accessed March 07, 2017.

[4] Campbell, David. The Ephemeral Islands, A Natural History of the Bahamas. p. 42

[5] "Incredible Blue Holes of the World." The Weather Channel. Accessed March 07, 2017.

[6] "Andros Barrier Reef and Tongue of the Ocean." The Official Site of The Bahamas. Accessed March 07, 2017.

[7] "Andros Town The Bahamas Monthly Weather."The Weather Channel. Accessed March 10, 2017.

[8] "Andros Town Sea Temparature." Global Sea Temperature. Accessed March 10, 2017.

Welcome the New Assistant Director at Forfar Field Station!

Demaceo Howard just started as the new Assistant Director.  He most recently was working as an Environmental Educator on Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia.  He has a BS in Biology from Cornell College and is a PADI certified Divemaster. If you would like to learn more about Demaceo's background you can view his staff profile here. We are excited to have him join our leadership team at Forfar!

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Forfar's Androsia Scholarship Fund

IFS feels it is imperative we contribute to the local community on Andros as much as possible. One of the ways we give back is though t-shirt sales to guests. When guests purchase the locally made Androsia Forfar T-shirts, all profits go into a scholarship fund for local high school students. This April, IFS was able to donate $1,000 for college scholarships to Central Andros High School.  

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New Station Director at Forfar Field Station

We want to welcome our newest IFS staff member, Vivienne Main as the new Station Director. She hails from Scotland and came to us by way of Dahab, Egypt where she managed the Open Ocean Science Centre and worked as a SCUBA diving instructor. She has a masters in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Glasgow Scotland. We are excited to have her join us!  

Liz Richardson will be leaving as the Station Director this month. We thank her for her contribution to IFS this past year and wish her luck in her future endeavors!

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The Beast Has Arrived!

Welcome to the Beast! The newest in the Forfar Vehicle Fleet! One of the challenges we face as an organization is the importation fees we have to pay for everything we bring to the island. Import taxes in the Bahamas are very high. Vehicles are twice as much as they are here and food is 1/3 more as well. Vehicles and boat engines are critical for our programming and must be budgeted for well in advance due to the costs. More vehicles and engines to come! Remember, donations to IFS are fully tax-deductible and will be put to good use to improve our programming!

Join us in July for Alumni Week

For those of you who long to come back to Forfar Field Station and relive your experience, here is your chance!  Bring your family and friends to the 2017 Alumni Week at Forfar Field Station from July 22nd - July 29th, 2017!

You can sign-up at the link below to receive details about transportation, pricing, and what to expect throughout the week.

If you know other alumni that may be interested in reliving their wonderful memories of Andros, please share this with them!

If you are interested, please contact Matt at the office with questions (office@intlfieldstudies.org or 614.268.9930) and complete this online Registration Form.

Rainbow while leaving Turtle Reef with Hoover/Jackson High School!

Rainbow while leaving Turtle Reef with Hoover/Jackson High School!

Zika Virus in the Bahamas

Currently the Bahamas does not host the Zika Virus. The Bahamian government is, “intensely monitoring the (zika virus) situation.” They have also taken proactive steps to reduce the chance of Zika transmission which include increased fogging and continued education to both citizens and resorts that will help to reduce mosquito breeding habitats.

At Forfar Field Station, we have eliminated areas with standing water, cut back vegetation near the cabins which allows for the area to dry out preventing breeding areas, and fog the areas behind the cabins.  We have installed mosquito nets on all the beds for nighttime protection.  We encourage the use of bug spray when visiting but your best defense is to where lightweight pants and long-sleeve shirts (it’s also your best defense against sunburn!)

For more information:

CDC Zika in the Bahamas Resource Guide

CDC Press Release (Zika in Bahamas)

Bahama Government Statement on Zika & Prevention

What is Ciguatera Toxin?

Before you visit Andros, it’s important to know about Ciguatera: a foodborne illness caused by eating fish that are contaminated by the ciguatera toxin. The concentrated toxin is often found in large reef fish such as barracuda, grouper, red snapper, moray eel, amberjack, parrotfish, hogfish, sturgeon fish, kingfish, coral trout, and sea bass. Ciguatera toxin accumulates in these fish as they consume smaller fish which feed on toxin producing algae (dinoflagellates).

Ciguatera toxin is harmless to fish but poisonous to humans. It is odorless and tasteless and cooking does not destroy the toxin. The symptoms from ingesting Ciguatera toxin are similar to other types of food poisoning and may consist of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, numbness, tingling, abdominal pain, dizziness, and vertigo. There are over 50,000 reported cases of ciguatera poisoning each year but by following just two simple tips, you can nearly eliminate your chance of ingesting the toxin.

When visiting Andros Island:

  1. Do NOT eat large reef fish that feed on smaller fish, especially if the fish weighs over 6 lbs. This is the safest way to not ingest the Ciguatera toxin. If you don’t eat the fish that accumulate the concentrated toxin, then you will not be at risk for Ciguatera poisoning.

  2. If you decide to eat large reef fish, avoid the parts of the fish that concentrate the toxin: liver, intestines, roe, and head.

Fun at Forfar Field Station

Hocking College is at Forfar Field Station!
Our current visiting group at Forfar Field Station is Hocking College's Bahamas Ecotourism Adventure Travel (BEAT) class.  Each year a group of knowledge-hungry college students come for a 6-week course at Forfar Field Station. This past Saturday, BEAT and Bahamas National Trust (BNT) took a trip to Andros West Side National Park for a fantastic educational experience.

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December NSTA Conference

Come join us! 
IFS will be at the upcoming National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Area Conference held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, December 1-3, 2016.  Feel free to stop by and learn about our programming for 2017! Know local teachers that might be interested in a Field Study experience abroad, encourage them to attend and visit our booth!  Additionally,  we are available to come and give a presentation at your school in a department staff meeting or other appropriate meetings. Contact Matt at office@intlfieldstudies.org for more information.