The Journey beyond Coral Reefs

The initiative to share the world of coral reefs with citizens and students of Trinidad and Tobago may have ended, but the quest for healthy oceans and the health of people continues. Dr Anjani Ganase reviews the International Year of the Reef TT and encourages us to continue “chasing coral.”

Awareness and Action 2018 was the International Year of the Reef (IYOR), a effort initiated by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to raise global awareness of the value of coral reef ecosystems. Trinidad and Tobago joined several countries around the world, as well as forty non-governmental and intergovernmental agencies, to learn about coral reefs and the threats they face, especially imminent climate change, and to engender action for coral reef conservation.
Throughout the year the IYORTT partnership grew significantly. It started with a core group of scientists who began discussions with other environmental groups and educational institutions. As the conversation grew, it extended t…

Why Mangroves must be protected

Mangrove forests provide coastal protection and habitat for many species. Dr Anjani Ganase takes us into an ecosystem that is as valuable as coral reefs, especially to small islands like Tobago.
Mangroves are often depicted as uninviting and unfriendly environments, not pleasing to the eye, a little bit smelly and a haven for mosquitos and sand flies. Yet within this narrow piece of real estate between terrestrial forests and marine ecosystems, mangrove forests are lush with marine, estuarine and terrestrial life and, when protected and managed well, rich in biodiversity. 
Mangrove forests are inshore coastal communities, where they can occur in salt, estuarine or fresh water conditions. They prefer calm waters that allow the mangroves to effectively root themselves into the substrate of the water column without being swept away. Even though mangroves may prefer freshwater conditions - they occur in areas with heavy rainfall - they actually thrive in saltwater environments as they tol…

Blue Sky Dreaming 2019

Pat Ganase draws on the recommendations of the current IPCC report on climate change, and imagines a more hopeful future for Tobago and Trinidad.
2019: will it be a year for more of the same; or a year marked by the radical change that is required at environmental, societal and economic levels. How do we move forward? These are the circumstances that now determine our immediate future: climate change (the world), economic growth (the nation) and personal fulfilment. 
Let us consider the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The October 2018 release is an impassioned plea (from thousands of scientists) to persuade world leaders and the most impactful nations that we need to keep global warming within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900). A slip to 2.0C would have disastrous consequences for millions around the world: greater sea level rise; loss of habitats; migration of species; limited food and water in certain regions; spread of vector…

Twelve Coral Gifts for Christmas and 2019

2018 was designated the third International Year of the Reef (IYOR) by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). This was precipitated by the most recent mass coral bleaching event; and follows two previous devastating events which led to the first IYOR in 1997 and the second in 2008. In the latest Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists predict the loss of many of the world’s iconic coral reefs if global temperatures continue to rise by more than 1.5C. To honour the reefs in the Caribbean, Dr Anjani Ganase brings us twelve gifts of Coral for Christmas, and the wish that we appreciate the ocean and coral reefs before they are lost.

Into The Blue: The Ocean We Want

The Blue Economy defines the values and benefits to be derived sustainably from the ocean. In this introduction, Dr Anjani Ganase presents the outline for countries’ relationship with the ocean. In future features, she will expand what the blue economy should mean for Tobago and Trinidad.
Humans have utilised aquatic and marine resources over centuries for food, water supply, extraction of materials and avenues of transport for trade and exploration. We have benefitted from the ocean as it moderates temperature and atmosphere and climate – it stores 90 % of our heat and 30 % of our carbon emissions. If we were to quantify the assets that we receive from the ocean (fisheries, coastal protection, tourism, carbon sequestration, transport etc.), the ocean would have Gross Marine Product (GMP) that would equate to some ~ 24 trillion USD (equivalent to the 7th highest economy in the world). Note that this value does not include the value of offshore oil and gas, nor does it include a value …

Tobago: research-based marine tourism centre

Small efforts in coral reef research and management taking place in Tobago give Shivonne M. Peters hope. Is it possible to combine conservation and research-based tourism for Tobago, she asks. Peters is Managing Director of Seven Environmental- a consultancy company for the marine sector – and a PhD candidate at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Contact her at
Coral reefs in Tobago cover an area of about thirty square kilometres, and are found on both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean coasts. In fact, several dive sites in the Columbus Passage (Flying and Cove Reefs, Diver’s Thirst and Diver’s Dream) are rated as some of the best drift dive sites in the Caribbean. While importance to the ecosystem services they provide - shoreline protection, fish nurseries and erosion regulation - cannot be understated, the significance to research-based tourism industry is a compelling developing sector.
This habitat for organisms from megafauna (sharks and ray…


Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, wonders about the wisdom of destroying a protected marine ecosystem, the only one in Trinidad and Tobago, with a strategy to recreate it sometime in the future. She responds to the press conference of the Minister Stuart Young, and representatives of Sandals, the Government’s business partner, which was held on November 26. 
“Nature refers to all the animals, plants, rocks, in the world and all the features, forces and processes that happen and exist independently of people, such as the weather, the sea, mountains, the production of young animals or plants, and growth” (Cambridge Dictionary).
There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of nature. Despite humankind’s infiltration into nearly every ecosystem and eco-space on earth, there is need to preserve as much of the natural world. Our air, our climate, our food and everything needed to advance us, comes from nature. With nature comes biodiversity; the number of organisms - plants, anim…