Classrooms in the Sea and Swamp

Dr Stanton Belford is a Trinidadian marine scientist from Temple Street, Arima who is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Biology at Martin Methodist College in Tennessee USA. One of his significant research studies is on the reefs of Toco. Until he can bring his students back to visit Buccoo Reef and the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, he believes that residents of Tobago and Trinidad should become familiar with these well-loved assets. Photos courtesy Dr Stanton BelfordRecently I saw Dr. Anjani Ganase, Associate Member of SpeSeas, speaking to The Now Morning Show (TTT) and The Morning Brew (TV6) about public online access to a 360-degree viewing of coral reefs in Tobago through the Maritime Ocean Collection website. I was ecstatic, because now I could sit at my computer in Tennessee, whilst viewing corals, fishes, and other organisms located in Tobago. How can we learn more about the vast oceans, whilst not being able to visit our beaches? I thought of Dr. Diva Amon (Director of …

Let's get the Children back to Nature!

Our Covid-19 internment has double damaging effects on children: imprisoning them indoors and putting them in front of screens for extended periods. Pat Ganase urges parents and educators to take children back to Nature for health and wellbeing, and to stir their creative imaginations. Photos by Mary Hall Rainforest hike with Dread Hiking, operated by one of Mary Hall’s past pupils.

Our children find their way into nature from the time they can crawl. Often, unsupervised discoveries are frowned upon. “Oh, dirty!” or “Come and wash those hands and feet.” Research over the recent decades reveals that these experiences are beneficial for curious minds and ought to be directed by parents and caregivers as obvious ways for educating from home.When I was in primary school - “Tranquil” in Port of Spain - I remember mostly the classes held outside in the yard. And one of my earliest treasured photographs was sitting on the root stumps of a spreading peepal tree near the back fence. I do not rem…

Warning: The Caribbean Sea is Heating up!

The warming water of the Caribbean Sea has implications for more than storms and hurricanes. Coral reef ecologist Dr Anjani Ganase warns of other dangers in the warming ocean. The outlook for coral reefs around Tobago – and impacts on livelihoods - ten years after the last significant event looks grim.These days we can feel the heat on the land and in the sea. With the increasing effects of a warming world and the changing climate, the months of September and October are especially challenging for coral reef scientists. Forty years ago, the water temperature would – on occasion - get too warm for corals. These days, ocean temperatures are rising annually to temperatures that may be too warm even for tropical coral reefs. Coral Reef WatchCoral Reef Watch was developed by NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, USA) following the first major global coral bleaching event in 1997 /1998. They realized that coral reefs around the world were bleaching during the summer m…

On-line Learning Goes Underwater

Now students of all ages are able to explore the coral reefs around Tobago from a smartphone or computer. Dr Anjani Ganase talks with Kelly Mannette Education Officer of the Buccoo Reef Trust about the Maritime Ocean Collection ( several months of diving to collect the images, and almost a year to apply the technology, the on-line collection of the 360-imagery on Tobago’s coral reefs is available, accessible at and through the global collection launched via Google and Underwater Earth. Viewers can “virtually dive” to explore the reefs and focus on what interests them. The campers of the Sun, Sea and Science Camp in Tobago, in 2019, were among the first children to be introduced to virtually dive the coral reefs of Tobago, as well as coral reefs all around the world. This month, The Maritime Ocean Collection goes live. It is the first collection featuring 360-degree imagery of Tobago’s coral reefs that is now freely available…

Protection needed for Global Travellers

Faraaz Abdool is looking out for high-flying tourists. He tells us how climate change and human expansion now threaten the amazing life and travels of shorebirds, many of which may be seen on the beaches and coasts of Tobago at this time of year. White-rumped Sandpiper: Young birds on their first migration are inquisitive, like this White-rumped Sandpiper. Their curiosity disappears as they mature, perhaps an indication of learned behaviour. Photo by Faraaz Abdool
Discerning eyes may have noticed an influx of different looking birds within the past few weeks. Mostly various combinations of brown, grey and white, these supposed interlopers are shorebirds. They are not trespassing on our islands however; they are travelers and know no boundaries of country or territory. Breeding in the northernmost reaches of barely habitable land, shorebirds perform one of the largest mass migrations on the planet each year. For us sedentary observers it will take some mind-bending to begin to understand…

When Lightning Strikes

As we go through the peak of the hurricane season, Dr Anjani Ganase warns of the perils of lightning strikes. Watch from a safe place and wonder at nature’s amazing light shows.There are many forms of lightning strikes. Within storm clouds, positive and negative charges form as ice particles move around under turbulent conditions. Typically, the top portion of the cloud develops a net positive charge, while the bottom of the cloud becomes net negative. Sheet lightning is the result of the discharge of these charges and the formation of electricity within the clouds. Sometimes the discharge occurs between the cloud and the earth and there are four different lightning patterns that can be formed staccato, forked, ribbon and bead lightning. A negative lightning strike occurs between the net negative charge of the cloud base and the earth where it grounds itself. Conversely, positive lightning strikes are rarer where the positive charge of the cloud found at much higher altitudes is able …