PIMS Pioneers New Pathways for Careers in Marine Conservation: Many former interns make valuable contributions in ocean sustainability


Although not a formal educational institution, for decades the Perry Institute of Marine Science (PIMS) has played a meaningful role in igniting passions for healthy oceans, shepherding Bahamians into new pathways for careers in marine conservation. 

As the organization celebrated its belated 50th anniversary over the weekend, PIMS executive director Dr Craig Dahlgren contemplated that “perhaps some of our greatest achievements” have stemmed from helping people embark on a new chapter of ocean action as marine scientists and conservation leaders.  

Notably, PIMS supported the doctoral research of Dr Livingston Marshall, The Bahamas first PhD marine scientist and the master’s research of Vanessa Benjamin, a former director of science and policy for the Bahamas National Trust and present executive director of Save The Bays.  

Esteemed interns include the likes of Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, director of BREEF (Bahamas Reef Environment Educational foundation); Nikita Shiel-Rolle, founder and director of Young Marine Explorers and Kristal Ambrose, the founder of the Bahamas Plastics movement. 

“We are continuing to support Bahamian interns like Meghyn Fountain who did a summer internship with us and is now working with us and providing research opportunities for Bahamian scientists like Dr. Krista Sherman, our senior research scientist who heads our fisheries research program,” said Dr Dahlgren.  

Ms Fountain, who received her bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Dalhousie University last year, returned to The Bahamas to work on coral restoration and disease with PIMS. She was promoted to a research technician this fall.  

“Interning with PIMS was easily one of the best decisions I’ve made this year, and it really felt like the ocean was my classroom when I was learning my coral species,” Ms Fountain said. “Now being a research tech, I feel like I’m part of a family. It’s encouraging to see PIMS create pathways for young Bahamians like me to become more involved in marine sciences, which makes me proud to be part of this team.”  

Dr Sherman is believed to be the first Bahamian female with a PhD in marine sciences. The student has evolved into the teacher. 

“We are pioneering new pathways for career development in marine conservation through internships for Bahamian students and professional development opportunities. For example, specialty dive training for key stakeholders,” said Dr Sherman. 

PIMS’ Community Conservation Education and Action Program seeks to promote behavioural change leading to stewardship of marine resources and developing the next generation of conservation leaders in The Bahamas.  

“We are excited to help develop blue economies and are committed to investing in people and building capacity here in The Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean,” said Dr Sherman, pointing to PIMS new partnership with the Windsor School at Albany and its recently established Marine Academy.  

“This dynamic partnership gives students the opportunity to gain experience from and work with our renowned marine scientists and conservation professionals that are working to protect endangered species and critical habitats.” 

According to Dr Mark Ott, head of the Windsor School, students there are thrilled to learn about the ways and means they can help to preserve ocean biodiversity. 

“They are learning all about how to carry out their own original research. They are getting into a depth and range of experience that I think is unparalleled in any other school that I know of,” he said. “We are just really excited about the opportunities our students have had to have learned from these terrific PIMS scientists, what it means to be a real researcher.” 

Source: Precision Media