Do we still have time and resources to save Tobago’s coral reefs? To pull them back from the edge of their long slow decline? Dr Anjani Ganase believes it’s not too late. There is need for everyone to understand their value, and for investments in monitoring, management, research and policy. Here is her quick survey of some strategies.
After the recent devastation of coral reefs around the world in the 3rd global bleaching event (2014-2016) - the longest and most severe yet - and with the still uncertain future of climate change, scientists are desperately working on the next steps for coral reef survival. Even with the global agreement to reduce carbon emission and curb temperature rise to less than 2 degrees, it is predicted that we will still lose between 70 – 90 % of coral reefs (Frieler et al 2013). For the millions of people that depend on coral reefs, this story will be a tragedy.
Apart from continued efforts to push governments to transition away from oil, coal and natural gas…

Business from Wind and Wave

Pat Ganase interviews Brett Kenny, owner and operator of the Radical Sports business at Pigeon Point. This feature was first published in the Newsday Tobago on Thursday, July 12, 2018.

Brett Kenny runs a business built on wind and human energy. The northeast trades at Tobago are his allies; the translucent sea at Pigeon Point his workshop. His investment in boards and sails facilitates the release of human energy to allow anyone to enjoy the freedom of the sea. The skills that are learned in windsurfing, kiteboarding or stand-up-paddling would serve the amateur or professional athlete. He encourages participants to learn to swim; it is a requirement that can be learned easily: “we had a windsurfer who spent an hour each day learning to swim before he went on the board with a life-jacket.”

It is one of the things he believes parents and teachers should give priority to: “Why should an irrational fear of the sea deprive them of a lifelong skill which can open up so many opportunities? …

Unsustainable Harvests

2018 has been designated the 3rd International Year of the Reef – IYOR2018.  This week, Dr. Farahnaz Solomon, Marine Biologist and IYORTT team member looks at one of the major services provided by coral reefs fisheries and laments the destructive and wasteful methods used to harvest wild fish. 
Coral reefs are found worldwide in tropical oceans. They cover an area of about 284, 300 km2 around the shores of over 100 countries (Photo 1). Overlaying a human population map with a coral reef distribution map shows that 10% of the world’s population live within 100 km of coral reefs. Excluding the reasonably wealthy developing countries, 75 percent of these individuals (>400 million) are from the poorest developing countries. Most live in rural environments and are likely to be dependent on reef resources to support their livelihoods and for food security.

Due to their nearshore locations in relatively shallow waters, many reefs are easily accessible without the need for boats or special…

The Uniqueness of an Indo-Pacific Coral Reef

Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, offers a pictorial sampling of coral reef species from the Ind-Pacific coral region. These, she says, are not found in the Caribbean or Atlantic, but it is useful to note where our appreciation for coral reefs might have come from
Indo-Pacific coral reefs - which occur in the Indian and Pacific Oceans - are known to be composed of unique communities of coral life. These are very different from those of the Atlantic and Caribbean regions. At the heart of the Indo-Pacific lies the Coral Triangle, the bioregion with the highest biodiversity of corals, reef fish and other marine invertebrates. Compared to the whole Caribbean region that has less than a hundred species of coral, reefs in the Coral Triangle support over 500 species of coral; and as many species of other marine life. There are many unique marine creatures that are not found on Caribbean coral reefs, and here are some example of these creatures.
Of the creatures featured here, these have Ca…

Corals in the deep ocean

In the International Year of the Reef in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Diva Amon brings us the corals of the deep. Dr Amon is a deep-sea biologist who has explored the deep ocean in Antarctica, the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Her research focuses on what lives in our world’s deep ocean and how we are impacting life down there. You can find out more @divaamon on Twitter and her website
Did you know that most species of coral are actually found in waters so deep that sunlight cannot reach them? Yes, that’s right, contrary to what most of us have been taught, the majority of corals do not live in tropical waters surrounded by colourful fish and bathed in sunlight. In fact, most are found in waters deeper than 50 metres around the world, even in our frigid polar seas.
Deepwater corals include many of the same groups seen on shallow reefs, such as stony branching corals, cup corals, octocorals and black corals. There are already over 3000 species known, with ma…

Parrotfish poop for healthy reefs!

Consider what makes healthy reefs in this, the 3rd International Year of the Reef (IYOR). Dr. Farahnaz Solomon, Marine Biologist and IYORTT team member, provides some insight into the characteristics of one of the more colourful and important coral reef inhabitants – parrotfishes. She highlights the vital role they play and why their protection is necessary to ensure the persistence of reefs in Tobago and the Caribbean.
As a lover of bright vivid colors, my admiration was won instantly by the delightfully garish parrotfishes, inhabitants of coral reefs. These thick scaled reef inhabitants possess a very fickle sense of fashion – not only does every species have a different color scheme, but they also change “outfits” as they move from babies, to juveniles, to adults. As my interest in reef fish deepened, I quickly learnt that there were more fascinating, albeit unusual, characteristics of these beauties than colour. Their diet, sleeping behaviour, and sexual orientation are all featur…

Plastics in our Ocean World

On June 8, celebrate World Oceans Day with your own thanksgiving and tribute to the waters that surround Tobago: a sea bath, a beach lime, a coastal clean up, an exploration along a nearby shore. For the rest of the year, adopt some of these practices to protect and conserve the ocean from where you live and work. (First published in Newsday Tobago, June 7, 2018)

The artist who created the clay plaque called “Famous Fish meets the King of Undersea World,” Bunty O’Connor, says that our familiarity and dependence on plastic – especially single use plastic – happened in the recent three decades. This is the story of her artwork, “That famous fish was a mylar balloon, the first I had seen. It floated up on Madamas beach (on Trinidad’s north coast) maybe 32 years ago. We were camping with the children. And hard to imagine, no plastic on the beach back then. I can also remember my first plastic red soap package floating in the sea in Charlotteville, maybe the same time or a little earlier. I…