Celebrating the Life of Mallory Raphael

Our Mermaid Mallory had a deep love of the ocean and a passion for sharing it with everyone she came into contact with. 

She was an integral member of the BREEF team. Her caring and love for both her coral “babies” and students was beautiful. 

Mallory Raphael was the Research and Environmental Education Officer at BREEF. Her work predominantly focused on the deployment and monitoring of the BREEF Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and establishing the BREEF Staghorn Coral nursery. She mentored scholars in the Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) programme and trained them in coral restoration at the sculpture garden.

Mallory also represented BREEF while heading up the Bahamas production team for the film, Chasing Coral.

Her BREEF family will miss her greatly. 

Mallory standing proud in front of “Ocean Atlas” alongside Eugenie Nuttall, Willicey Tynes and Andret John.
Mallory and her students heading out to snorkel the coral reef.
Mallory diving at the BREEF Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden.
Mallory taking care of her coral “babies” at BREEF’s coral nursery.
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Photo 1: Eco-Schools Workshop Participants 

The Bahamas, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) hosted 40 educators from around the archipelago for in-person (and in-water) Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators workshop. The workshop theme was “Reducing Environmental Pollution in The Bahamas” and was supported by one of the first grants made by the newly established Sean Connery Foundation. The first day of the two-day workshop was held at the New Providence Community Centre and brought together educators, partners, and speakers from Abaco, Andros, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Exuma, and New Providence for to improve and expand their respective programmes designed to inspire students toward excellence in environmental stewardship.

“The BREEF Eco-Schools workshop was very informative and very well organized. It is exciting to be bringing the Eco-Schools program back to Abaco as we continue to recover from Hurricane Dorian,” said Jim Richard, Principal at Abaco’s Forest Heights Academy.

The keynote address was given by Mr. Arana Pyfrom, Senior Environmental Officer at the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection.  Other guest speakers included representatives from the New Providence Ecology Park, the Bahamas Wildlife Enforcement Network, Keep Grand Bahama Clean and Family Medical Centre.  The workshop culminated with a hands-on experience led by the BREEF outreach team.

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Photo 2: Kevin Glinton, National Operator, Eco-Schools Bahamas (Left) and Durona Joseph (Right), Teacher at Hope Town Primary School, Abaco receiving a copy of Bahamas Underwater at the workshop.

According to Beth Hall, coordinator at St. Andrew’s International School, “It was so wonderful to be able to come together again after what felt like such a long time! I always come away with a lighter heart and mind after hearing about the fantastic work our students have going on in our fellow Eco-Schools. It is an excellent opportunity to share ideas and network with fellow Eco warriors of the environment and invited guests. Thank you BREEF for another engaging workshop.”

BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas programme is part of the largest global sustainable student-led school initiative, with Eco-Schools in over 70 countries.  Currently, The Bahamas’ network consists of 40 schools spread over six islands with a student population totalling more than 17,672 children.  BREEF has been running the Eco-Schools Bahamas programme since 2009.

“With the support of the Connery Foundation, BREEF brought educators from around the Bahamian archipelago together to help inspire students toward excellence in environmental stewardship and ocean literacy, and to expand the Eco-Schools programme to more schools,” said BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert.

Speaking about the success of the workshop Kevin Glinton said, “Every year, the Eco-Schools Bahamas network jumpstarts the new academic year of student-led environmental activities by coming together to share, learn and develop strategies to engage students in fun-filled actions to protect our Bahamian ecosystems. After two years of virtual meeting, we finally met in-person. I am truly thankful to all who attended especially, the many new coordinators and schools from the Family Islands and New Providence interested in joining the Eco-Schools Bahamas programme.”

Speaking about her organization’s efforts to assist the Grand Bahama Eco-Schools with their goals, Nakira Wilchcombe, workshop speaker, and Keep Grand Bahama Clean executive, said, “I truly enjoyed the workshop and all of the presentations. Hats off to the BREEF team for the excellent work, and I hope we can meet some of our goals by the end of the year.”

“The 2022 Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators Workshop was a worthwhile and encouraging experience. It was an honour to be present at such an eco-friendly event with information and goals that are aligned with the needs of our school. It also presented an opportunity for communion and collaboration amongst schools that already have the Green Flag,” said Johnette Ferguson-Morris, coordinator at C. R. Walker Senior High School.

Photo 3: Durona Joseph, Teacher, Hope Town Primary School, Abaco (L), TeShalla Clarke ESB National Committee Member & BREEF volunteer (2nd L), Teedra Minnis- Hinsey, Teacher, Fresh Creek Primary School, 

Andros (2nd R), and Jim Richards, Principal, Forest Height Academy, Abaco exploring the underwater environment as a living classroom at Saunders Beach on Day 2 of the workshop

Photo 4:  Students learn about the importance of protecting ocean ecosystems during the public snorkel events.

Vernelle L. Carey, Master Teacher at Abaco’s Every Child Counts school said, “ The workshop was such an educational and information filled day, I wished all our teachers could experience the event. It is a rare occasion when every presenter gives a topical and thought-provoking presentation. Then the icing on the cake and absolute highlight for me was the snorkelling session at Saunders Beach on Saturday morning.  The BREEF Outreach team greeted me with such confidence, I had no qualms about it being my first formal snorkelling experience. Even the rainy weather and murky waters could dampen my delight and sense of accomplishment. Thanks to the BREEF team for an exceptionally informative, thought-provoking, fun-packed two days.”

The workshop was made possible through the generous support of the Sean Connery Foundation and the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative.  To learn more about BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme and its work in promoting the conservation of the Bahamian marine environment, please visit www.breef.org or email ecoschoolsbahamas@breef.org

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BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment Programme Gains International Recognition 

Check Out the UNDP Publication Here

The Young Reporters for the Environment students (YRE) in The Bahamas and the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) gained international recognition for their initiative on climate action and approach to combating plastic pollution. Recently featured in a UNDP article called, “Turning the tide, How local NGOs in Seychelles and the Bahamas are working to raise awareness and inspire action to address marine plastic pollution,” YRE students share the importance of giving our marine environment a voice.

The YRE programme aims to empower students aged 11-25 to take a stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and give them a platform to call attention to these issues through the media of writing, photography, or video. There are more than 350,000 young reporters in 45 countries across the world.

BREEF started implementing the YRE programme in 2019, making The Bahamas the first country in the Caribbean to offer the programme. Since then, students from all over the archipelago have participated in journalism and photography workshops, and snorkel field trips led by BREEF to the mangrove and coral reefs. They have also participated annually in the “Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition” submitting entries on local and global environmental issues.

“What motivates my friends and me to protect nature is sustaining it for future generations. Nature is often neglected by human beings in today’s world and now its survival is becoming such a vital aspect of life. We have to protect it!” -Kaitlyn Archer.

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Photo 1. Young Reporter for the Environment student, Kaitlyn Archer, presenting to snorkelers about the importance of protecting our coral reefs.

Kaitlyn and her peers are participating in a youth-focused project with The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) aimed at increasing knowledge about marine ecosystems and the threats they face, including plastic pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change.

The project was initially funded by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program (SGP). Lombard Odier & Cie (Bahamas) Ltd is a key sponsor of the rapidly-growing programme.

“YRE is an amazing programme because it allows young people to utilize social media in an impactful way, expressing their concerns about the environment and proposing solutions. YRE teaches our youth how to communicate effectively by utilizing a cutting-edge approach to disseminate news.” Allison Longley, National Operator for YRE in The Bahamas.

To read the GEF SGP “Turning the Tides” article and to learn more about the Young Reporters for the Environment programme, please read https://undp.shorthandstories.com/gef-sgp-turning-the-tide/ and visit www.breef.org.

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Photo 2: BREEF’s underwater classroom, a perfect fusion of art and conservation located at the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden & Coral Nursery.

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Photo 3: Students participating in a Snorkel and Underwater Cleanup event.

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Photo 4: YRE students participating in a PADI Women’s Day snorkel event.

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Young Bahamian Environmental Stewards begin BESS scholarship journey

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — After another year of hybrid learning, four new Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) are ready for in-person experiential learning through the BESS programme.

Applicants from New Providence, Eleuthera, and Grand Bahama competed for coveted seats in this gap year programme offered by the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) and The Island School.

Asia Butler

Scholars for the 2022-2023 BESS Programme are Asia Butler from Harbour Island All Age School, Taye Fountain from Lucayan International School, Darielle Bullard from Bishop Michael Eldon School, and Gayle Burrows from Queen’s College. Each scholar will spend a life-changing semester at The Island School at Cape Eleuthera, in addition to a four-month paid internship at BREEF.

Recognizing the growing need to solve problems in a rapidly changing world, BREEF and The Island School mentor these independent students through solutions-based learning and scientific research internships. Upon completion of the programme each scholar leaves well equipped to lead The Bahamas into a more sustainable future.

Asia Butler has shown exceptional leadership as the president of the Bahamas Plastic Movement Ocean Ambassador’s Club as well as inspiring her community with her backyard gardening.

Taye Fountain

Butler said: “During the pandemic Bahamians were struck with fear over possible food shortages which could be prevented by encouraging agricultural jobs and making agriculture an important part of our education system, thus increasing food security and bringing us one step closer to a plastic-free community.”

Taye Fountain is a Maritime Cadet also involved with Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas.

Darielle Bullard

Fountain said: “I am an avid swimmer, spear fisherman, boater, and scuba diver. I believe I can take much of what I have learned from my environmental education and implement it to inform others of ways in which the economy and country can develop without damaging our environment.”

Darielle Bullard is a Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Cadet and also in the Maritime Cadet Corps. She gives back to her community through Anchor Club and Interact and loves diving with sharks.

“My passion is nature and marine life,” Bullard said.

“I like to help clean up the beach with my friends and visit Owl Hole. I plan to major in marine biology, and BESS will show me how to make a difference in the Bahamas and have fun while I accomplish my goals.”

Gayle Burrows participates in Green Team Eco Club, Aquaponics, and the Model UN. She realizes the impending doom of warming oceans and climate change and has worked with youth to shape their future.

Gayle Burrrows

“I have always wanted to contribute to my home, The Bahamas, by preparing children in younger generations to see that they have to take care of and preserve the environment because it’s our home,” Burrows said.

Since 2008, 55 young Bahamians have benefitted from this exceptional educational experience, with most scholars going on to pursue related tertiary studies or being currently employed in the environmental field.

The BESS Programme is a collaboration between BREEF and The Island School with over $160,000 provided in scholarships from The Island School to make the programme possible.

Click here to read the original Eyewitness News article.

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World Biodiversity Day

Biodiversity is integral to our coral reef and mangrove ecosystems. In celebration of #WorldBiodiversity day we are highlighting the importance of biodiversity of our Bahamian coral reefs. Coral reefs are teeming with a variety of species that help keep this ecosystem balanced and healthy.

Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet—even more than a tropical rainforest. Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life. Coral reefs provide protection from storms, and generate income for tourism and fisheries.  The Bahamas is home to 35% of all coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Coral Reefs are under threat from human impacts such as climate change, pollution, invasive species, coastal development and overfishing. 80% of live corals have died in the last 50 years. BREEF works to protect coral reefs through restoration, education and by influencing policy.

To learn more about the abundant biodiversity below the surface check out BREEF’s Virtual Coral Reef Field trip.

Check out this sneak preview of the BREEF Virtual Coral Reef Field Trip!

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BREEF Announces the Winner for the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition.

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is proud to announce

Eliana Bowe, age 11 from St John’s College is the winner of the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) National Competition. 

The winning photo entry “Is it better in The Bahamas?“ calls attention to one of the leading threats to coral reefs, pollution. Ms. Bowe captures a current photo of land-based garbage just footsteps away from the shoreline. 

Ms. Bowe received a brand-new GoPro HD camera gifted by BREEF to support her future in

environmental reporting. She will now represent The Bahamas in the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment International Competition hosted by the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE). 

BREEF commends all of the YRE participants for submitting their articles and photos. Entries focused on various real-time issues such as the effects of climate change in The Bahamas, biodiversity loss, and pollution. 

The YRE Programme aims to empower students aged 11-25 to take a stand on environmental

issues they feel strongly about. It gives them a platform to call attention to these issues through

writing, photography, or video. There are more than 350,000 young reporters in 45 countries

across the world.

Speaking on behalf of the YRE programme in The Bahamas, Allison Longley, National Operator for the Young Reporters for the Environment, said, “ The YRE programme allows a platform for young people to give nature a voice in such a fun and creative way. The YRE National Competition is the pinnacle of the programme however throughout the year students have an opportunity to connect with the marine environment first-hand through snorkel field trips and mangrove walkabouts. 

When asked what motivates her to protect nature, Eliana Bowe stated, “ I love my country and its beautiful water. It’s important to take care of our marine environment. I am passionate about the ocean because I don’t want to see the fish go extinct.”

The Young Reporters for the Environment programme was launched in The Bahamas with the support of a grant from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme. Additional support has been provided by Rolex and Lombard Odier & CIE (Bahamas) LTD to enable children around The Bahamas to get involved with the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and take part in the international competition. 

To learn more about the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and how you can get involved, please visit www.breef.org.

Photo 1; Eliana Bowe’s winning  photo entry focuses on pollution.  

Photo 2; Eliana Bowe, age 11, St. John’s College winner of the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition.  

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Young People Dove into a BREEF Community Snorkel Event to Celebrate Easter and Earth Day

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation ( BREEF) kicked off Earth Week by hosting a Snorkel and Underwater Cleanup this past Saturday April 16, 2022 at Saunders Beach.

During the event participants learned about fish identification, threats to coral reefs and how to snorkel for the very first time.

Allison Longley, BREEF’s Outreach and Education Officer stated, “ Earth Day is a wonderful reminder for everyone to take a moment and appreciate the beauty of The Bahamas, in particular the coral reefs and the many things that they do to sustain our way of life. It’s vital that we connect our youth first-hand to the marine environment so they too can understand the importance of protecting the coral reefs that protect us.”

Heather Brockbank, a BREEF intern in the Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholars (BESS) programme, supported the event and stated, “Having the opportunity to indulge in marine ecosystems and help guide the youth to see the wonders of the underwater world is a rewarding experience for all and helps to bring knowledge and joy of marine ecosystems to the community as a whole”.

This event was a part of  BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) programme.

To learn more about how you can get involved and participate in the next upcoming event please visit www.breef.org.

Photo 1; Heather Brockbank, BREEF intern and BESS Scholar teaching snorkelers about fish identification. 

Photo 2; Snorkelers enjoying the event.

Photo 3; Snorkelers taking action to combat plastic pollution by cleaning up garbage from the ocean. 

Check out our ZNS News Coverage!

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BREEF Launches electric vehicle-powered “Mobile Outdoor Classroom” Experience

9 FEB 2022

A “Mobile Outdoor Classroom” on board a brand-new fully electric vehicle was launched on Wednesday February 9th, by the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) as part of their ongoing efforts to make marine environmental education safe, fun and engaging.  

The electric outdoor classroom vehicle, soon to be outfitted with solar panels, was donated to BREEF through a strategic grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio welcomed the initiative as a groundbreaking and positive development for amplifying messages on the environment and integrating the population into sustainable development efforts. “I congratulate BREEF for acquiring a sustainable mode of transportation using sustainable energy resources to reinforce public education related specifically to marine conservation and biodiversity and renewable energy. I am encouraged by the role of young people in this effort and encourage them to remain vocal and creative in advocating for change that matters,” she said. 

Educational resources on marine biodiversity and conservation, renewable energy and sustainable development will be delivered aboard the mobile classroom to local schools and field study sites across New Providence, through BREEF’s “Young Reporters for the Environment: Giving our Marine Environment a Voice” project, also funded through the GEF SGP/UNDP grant.

BREEF Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert acknowledged the support and stated: “As an archipelago, The Bahamas is dependent on a healthy ocean that sustains lives and livelihoods. BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment helps inspire young people to become active stewards of the waters around us and active participants in the sustainable Blue Economy. This new electric vehicle allows us to not only take students to the ocean, but bring the ocean to students.“ 

During a launch event at Delaporte Beach executed as a fresh air classroom session, discussions on Renewable Energy, Climate Change and Coral Reefs were led by the BREEF joined by students from the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and executives from UNDP/GEF SGP. Students learned more about the importance of preserving and protecting the marine environment to include the need to shift towards more sustainable development and renewable energy. 

Speaking on behalf of the Young Reporters for the Environment, National Operator, Allison Longley noted that

“87 percent of human-produced carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels. It is important for small island nations like The Bahamas to make the shift towards alternative energy sources to help mitigate the ongoing global climate crisis.” 

BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment programme in The Bahamas, is designed to empower young people to effectively communicate about environmental issues and give the ocean a voice. 

During the outdoor classroom session students were asked what motivates them to protect our marine environment.

Makhi Gray, age 9, responded “I love the water and seeing all the fish, I don’t want to see them going extinct. Fish are important too; they keep our coral reefs healthy by cleaning the algae off of them.”

The debut of the electric vehicle classroom further empowers the young people to make learning about solar energy more fun and support the nation’s goals to embrace alternative energy sources. 

The Bahamas has pledged to “fully embrace” the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to include the nation’s Energy policy to derive 30% of energy needs from renewable sources.

Students interested in learning more about The Young Reporters for the Environment Programme and how to register can call BREEF’s office at 242-327-9000 or email breef@breef.org 

Photo 1: Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative ( Right) passing the keys to the electric vehicle to Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF Executive Director. Electric Vehicle donated to BREEF through a strategic grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

Photo 2; Group photo of BREEF officials with some of the students that attend the Outdoor Classroom experience. 

Photo 3;  (Left to Right) Deon Stewart  Global Environment Facility National Coordinator, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert BREEF Executive Director, Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative, Allison Longley, Young Reporters for the Environment National Operator.

Photo 4; Bahamian Environmental Steward Scholar ( BESS) Abigail Rolle demonstrating to the class how to measure a Queen conch.

Check out our ZNS News Story !

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BREEF Partners with Children Around the World to Support 12 Abaco and Grand Bahama Eco-Schools

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is pleased to announce the disbursement of $6275.55 raised through a joint Children For Children Campaign with the Foundation For Environmental Education (FEE). The campaign was initiated in November 2019 in response to hurricane Dorian to support severely impacted Eco-Schools Bahamas students and teachers in Abaco and Grand Bahamas.

“Though born out of adversity, the Children for Children campaign united the global Eco-Schools network with the children of The Bahamas not only to show that they care but to lend their financial support to the ongoing recovery of children affected by Hurricane Dorian. We greatly appreciate the compassion of children around the world and their efforts to help children in The Bahamas recover
from Hurricane Dorian, ” says Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director of BREEF.

During the campaign, BREEF and FEE mobilized their global network of 70 countries and 19.5 million children to unite children from around the world to promote empathy for affected Bahamian children, raise awareness of Climate Change, provide education on disaster resilience, and organize support in cash for the replacement of educational resources and materials for the 12 affected Eco-Schools in
Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Students from an Eco-School in Spain and the Czech Republic made videos that were shared on the Young /reporters for the Environment (YRE) social media platforms. Students from the Escola da Colina Educação Infantil e Ensino Fundamental in Brazil made and sold handicrafts to raise money for the Children for Children Campaign. At Escola Básica e Secundária Dr. Serafim Leite in Portugal,
students designed pencils, pins and bracelets that were sold as part of the fundraising in a combined Children for Children campaign that raised money for schools in Angola and The Bahamas. And, during the 2020-21 school year, the Wilhelm Bracke Comprehensive School in Germany held virtual sponsored fun-runs to raise money for the campaign.

The Abaco schools in the Eco-Schools Programme are Every Child Counts, Forest Heights Academy, Hope Town Primary School, Man-O-War Primary School, S.C. Bootle High School, Patrick J. Bethel High School, and Central Abaco Primary School. The Grand Bahama Eco-Schools include Bishop Michael Eldon School, Freeport Gospel Chapel School, Holmes Rock Primary School, Hugh Campbell Primary School, and Lucaya International School.

Cheques in the amount of $522.96 for each of the twelve Schools in BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas programme were presented by Eco-Schools Bahamas Steering Committee members, Ms. Olethea Gardiner of Keep Grand Bahama Clean, and Ms. Lianna Burrows of Abacos’ Friends of the Environment on behalf of BREEF.

Accepting on behalf of Lucaya International School, head girl Amelia Baptista said, “ I’m overjoyed, we’re blessed to be here to accept this donation. I think it’s going to be an incredible bolster for the plans that I know we already have but have been a little hesitant to put in motion for fear of lack of support.”

Forest Heights Academy’s principal, Jim Richards said, “THANK YOU for your support of FHA and our rebuild post-Dorian and we are truly appreciative!” According to Olethea Gardiner, Co-Chair of Keep Grand Bahama Clean, “ We know that it’s been hard. We know that schools would have lost a lot of their environmental resources that they worked so hard for, especially schools that would have already gone so far within their action plans and now have to rebuild. Every little dollar helps. So, this is just a token from schools around the world.

”BREEF is the official representative for the Foundation for Environmental Education in The Bahamas and has been running the Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme since 2009, inspiring Bahamian students towards excellence in environmental stewardship by promoting actions for creating a more sustainable world.

BREEF is a non-governmental, nonprofit Bahamian foundation concerned with educating our people about the value of and need for conserving our marine environment.  BREEF promotes the conservation of the Bahamian marine environment that sustains our way of life.

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