Posts

Adapting to Climate Change

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How some animals and plants are responding to a warming world. Dr Anjani Ganase looks at some creatures’ adaptations to survive the changing climate.   We are in the anthropocene – the current geological era where human activities have significant impacts on the environment and climate. Indeed, humans are currently driving the sixth mass extinction. To date we are losing species to extinction at a rate of about 2000 species every year (WWF est.). While many die off, other animals and plants are undergoing adaptation for survive either the warming conditions directly or adapting to shifts in habitat conditions, food supply and environment. Scientists who have been monitoring and conducting genetic studies over the last 50 years have been able to match changes in animal physiology (body shape and size) or behaviour (migratory timing) to changes in temperature. There are a few creatures that do benefit from the warmer conditions, although the extent of such benefits

What you should know about Dolphins

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Dolphin sightings in waters around our islands are welcomed as happy auspicious signs. Highly intelligent and playful, they inhabit or traverse waters around the world and they need our protection. Dr Anjani Ganase provides some facts about these marine mammals.   Their diversity Did you know that killer whales, false killer whales and melon head whales are dolphins? All are members of the family Delphinidae. There are 42 species of dolphins found all over the world. They roam the open ocean and dolphin species are found in all the oceans and seas with a few exceptions. While most prefer warmer tropical waters, there a few species, such as the orcas, that travel to the polar regions. Orcas have even been encountered along the north coast of Trinidad.   Their sizes The biggest dolphin species are the orcas or killer whales. Killer whales get up to 6 – 8 m in length and up to six tons. Such immense size does not keep them from swimming at speeds up to 56km/h km; among the dea

What Diversification must look like

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Not just a conversation piece to distract us, the topic of diversification is real in Dr Anjani Ganase’s mind. Here’s what we should be doing to ensure that we can protect land and marine resources and communities.     The main purpose of diversifying our economic resources is to be able to withstand the shocks of external disturbances. Since the Government of Trinidad and Tobago first started talking about the need to diversify our economy the threat of climate change seemed more like a future retirement plan. Today, climate change is on the doorstep, the world is committed to leaving fossil fuels behind and Covid has thrown us a curve ball.   But diversifying isn’t simply trying to get profit from elsewhere, more holistically it is to build a system of socio-economic resilience, and this doesn’t mean gaining profits for something but making sure we’re also not losing it somewhere else. For small island developing states, the impact of climate change is estimated

The Therapy of Birding

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How becoming aware of birds in nature can affect your mood and mind: Faraaz Abdool reflects on what birds can teach us about living in the now. Even accidental or occasional birders can enjoy the benefits of birds. All photos by Faraaz Abdool   While scrolling through my social media feed a couple days ago I came across a word I hadn’t previously seen: “ornitherapy.” Aside from the word rolling supremely easy off the tongue, it jumped out at me for a couple other reasons. Firstly, “orni“ indicates something bird-related, and secondly “therapy” suggests a practice which would result in the overall betterment of one’s state. I couldn’t believe it, here was a word describing a familiar – and formerly indescribable – feeling. A single word to summarize the warm euphoria experienced when sharing a moment with any number of feathered beings. I did a quick search and found a book entitled Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul by Holly Merker, Richard Crossley, and Sophie Crossley.

Is it too late to fix the climate crisis?

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  The climate continues to change causing fiercer wildfires, stronger storms and displacing coastal and island communities all over the world. Dr Anjani Ganase reviews the IPCC 6 th Assessment Report and looks at the slippery slope that small islands face. The world as we know it is changing rapidly.   The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (IMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the purpose of reviewing and compiling climate-related research to advise governments on the impacts of climate change. Considering the global impact of climate change, the IPCC body consists of 193 global members and thousands of contributing scientists across many countries. The IPCC scientists volunteer their time to collate all information on the drivers of climate change, future projections, understanding the global and regional impacts, as well as studies on mitigation and adaptation strategies. The re

The Olympics of the Sea

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  Inspired by Tokyo 2020, Anjani Ganase shares the top contenders for an Ocean Olympics.   FASTEST SWIMMER The ocean finalists would easily be from the family of billfish that consist of a group of pelagic fish that roam the open oceans of the tropics and includes species of marlin, spearfish, and sailfish. The top speed contender will be a toss-up between the sailfish and the black marlin as both are capable of reaching speeds in excess of 110 km/h. The speed of the billfish is essential for herding and capturing prey. The sailfish has the advantage of its dorsal fin that acts as a sail and aids in corralling schools of small fish, such as anchovies. They may also use their elongated lower jaw like a spear. Runners up in speed include the wahoo (78 km/h), the mako shark (74km/h) and the Atlantic blue fin tuna (70km/h) followed by dolphins that can get up to 60 km/h. Also included in the top ten is the flying fish which can reach speeds up to 54 km/h.                           

Reconnecting with the Beach in Barbados

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Pat Ganase details the process of going for a sea bath in the time of Covid-19. She journeyed to Barbados, and learned about another Caribbean island. Photos by Pat Ganase   We are islands. Wherever we live, it’s not far from the sea. Even when we don’t go to the beach, we know we can reach there in half an hour or less. The ocean is our blood. “Blood can also be thought of as a private ocean,” wrote Natalie Angier on The Wonders of Blood, “Not only is blood mostly water, but the watery portion of blood, the plasma, has a concentration of salt and other ions that is remarkably similar to sea water.” (The Wonders of Blood, Natalie Angier, NYT October 20, 2008) During Covid-19, while we understand the need not to congregate – in rumshops, churches, groceries, parks, playgrounds, even at home – the ban from the beach feels like a separation from an essential self. But the beach is still open in Barbados.   Getting to Barbados requires proof of complete vaccination (two jabs of