Posts

Speaking for the Ocean

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From the frontline of research on coral reefs around Tobago, Dr Anjani Ganase is seeing how human activities on shore affect life in the ocean. Here, she makes an appeal to consider five gifts for a healthy ocean. All photos by Anjani Ganase   World Oceans Day (June 8) was last Saturday, but maybe we should start thinking of our ocean every day, or at least for the month of June. Here are my five wishes for the ocean around Trinidad and Tobago. These confront the five main challenges that our marine ecosystems face. Here are some things that we can do as individuals, communities and a country to protect our piece of the ocean.   By becoming familiar with all our ocean ecosystems - like these seagrass beds in Bon Accord lagoon -  our children learn to love the ocean. Photo by Anjani Ganase Protect our marine biodiversity by law: Trinidad and Tobago is home to eleven environmental sensitive species, including five species of marine turtles, and three environmen

Climate Change Adaptations

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  Dr Anjani Ganase reports from the front lines of science looking for solutions to our rapidly warming ocean.   Coastal defences are better when nature is involved.   In Trinidad and Tobago, a common solution to any flooding or erosion event is the installation of a box drain or retention wall. Pouring concrete or straightening a riverbed ignores the downstream negative impacts, the loss of ecological systems and the prevention of any future adaptation. Box drains, concrete walls and such permanent constructs do not respond to climate impacts and require high-cost maintenance in the long run. This is a common problem worldwide with 40 % of Japan’s coastlines hardened by coastal defences. These engineered solutions are referred to as hard defences – directly referring to the hardening of the coastline or the riverbed.   In contrast, soft - also known as ecosystem-based - solutions aim to mimic natural ecosystem functions - mangroves, back beach habitats

Looking for Rays

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When last did you see a ray at the beach?   Farahnaz Solomon, marine biologist and fisheries expert, tells us about these mysterious creatures and asks us to look for skates and rays in our waters.     Trinidad and Tobago may be home to as many as 30 species of globally threatened skates and rays. What do we know about them? How can we appreciate and protect them in our waters? Local NGO and advocate for marine life, SpeSeas, has started a project aimed at unravelling the mysteries of rays: just how many species are there and where exactly do they live? Some of us have heard fishermen’s tales of the majestic manta – sometimes called devil ray - often sighted out at sea. Some of us have seen the southern stingrays and spotted eagle rays on the reefs or at the beach.   And a few have witnessed the fevers (a collection of rays is called a fever) of cownose rays migrating along the coast. Skates and rays are fishes that are closely related to sharks. They are often ref

Birding in the Biosphere

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Faraaz Abdool visits the Wadden Sea and Halligen Islands at the   north of Germany, an area protected as a birding habitat. What are the lessons for birding in Northeast Tobago?     At the north of Germany, the Wadden Sea National Park was recognised as an UNESCO biosphere reserve back in 1990. The five inhabited Halligen islands were added as a development zone in 2005.   This North Sea protected area consists of grey, featureless tidal mudflats - the largest   such ecosystem in the world spanning 4,500 square kilometres across three countries. There are no verdant valleys or misty mountains, or even azure, idyllic stretches of ocean here. The vast majority of the organisms that utilise this habitat live in the mud, their daily struggles unnoticed, their existence only visible when violently yanked into the above-surface world by one of millions of migratory shorebirds - called waders -   on those shores of the Atlantic.   The tidal mudflat ecosystem across the world has

Rocky Point Public Consultations off to a Rocky Start

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Ryan Mannette provides commentary on the first public consultation for a hotel development by Superior Hotels of Trinidad and Tobago at Rocky Point in Mt Irvine. Ryan Mannette is a Tobagonian, a marine scientist, and a Director of the NGO SpeSeas that advocates for marine conservation and awareness.   The public consultation was highly anticipated.   Arrival an hour early was not unusual as there were several persons already registered and in their seats at the Buccoo Multipurpose Facility. Closer to the start time, people continued to file in. The numbers were impressive, every seat was filled, then walls were lined, doors were blocked (people were relocated) and persons were standing in the courtyard outside where a speaker was mounted. There were close to 200 attending - more persons than at the Toco port EIA consultations three years ago. People from the communities around Mt Irvine, including Pleasant Prospect , people from the surfing community wearing “Sav

YOUTH PROTECTING OCEAN

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  Hannah Lochan reports from the Youth Leadership Summit and the Our Ocean Conference in Greece.   “We may seem radical today, but it is just because we are ahead of our times.” Dr. Sylvia Earle, oceanographer and deep-sea explorer was addressing 100 youth leaders gathered in Athens, Greece. She was not only motivating but made me feel heard and understood. Climate anxiety is daunting and the threats to our ocean’s health are mounting. However, through it all, we have hope and we have action. Young people cannot be afraid, but must become steadfast champions for the ocean. “Tell the truth! There is no need to go beyond the truth. But do not stay quiet about the things that concern you,” Dr Earle said. SUSTAINABLE OCEAN ALLIANCE Historically, youth representation is low. Now, we recognize that the young need more input into goals and policies that affect their present and future. A Youth Leadership Summit was hosted before the main Our Ocean Conference through a partnership between