Showing posts from December, 2016

12 Creatures on Buccoo Reef to cherish all year round

In observance of the season of celebration and thanksgiving, Jahson Alemu shares 12 creatures special to Buccoo Reef that we should cherish and protect. Make a note for 2017 to appreciate the marine environment that surrounds Trinidad and Tobago. Without it, we are rocks in the ocean, black dots on the map.  Follow Jahson on twitter: jahson_alemu Christmas is in the air. The smell of pastelles, black cake, ham and all sorts of seasonal goodies tantalise our taste buds. From simple to intricate lights adorn houses; and like moths drawn to a flame, paranderos flitter from house to house to spread joy, serenade and wish us well for the season. In the spirit of the season, here is a Christmas tribute to some of the creatures that add vibrancy, wonder, colour and life to our Buccoo Reef. Red Cushion Starfish, photo courtesy Jahson Alemu On the first day of Christmas, My true love gave to me, One Red Cushion Starfish (Oreaster reticulatus). Two French Angelfish, photo courte

Forests on the Edge

Jahson Alemu, marine biologist, discusses the importance of mangrove ecosystems to the enhancement and protection of coastlines, and also to our future. This feature was first published in the Tobago Newsday on Thursday December 15, 2016 Follow Jahson on twitter: @jahson_alemu. If trees are the lungs of the earth, mangroves must be the kidneys. Like botanical amphibians, mangroves live life on the edge. Uniquely positioned at the dynamic interface between land and sea, they are highly productive tropical coastal ecosystems comprised mainly of trees and shrubs capable of thriving in humid heat, amid choking mud and salt levels in which only a few plant species can survive (Duke et al 1998). If you’ve never seen a mangrove, picture a lattice of tangled tree legs rising up from brackish water. At one point in our history, mangrove forests were treated as wasteland considered only useful as dumps, and haven to bad spirits, jumbies, runaways and criminals. Red mangroves (Rhizophora

Lights in the Lagoon

Jahson Alemu discusses the phenomenon known as bioluminescence, and conditions where it thrives: the protected Bon Accord Lagoon in Tobago is one of these rare spots.. Jahson is a marine biologist completing his PhD study on Buccoo Reef and its value in the ecosystem of south-west Tobago. This feature was first published in Tobago Newsday on Thursday, December 8, 2016.  Follow Jahson on twitter: @jahson_alemu. Imagine a world without light! That may seem difficult to imagine and it is likely you don’t think about it often! But for several animals part of their lives are spent in absolute darkness (such as at night or in the deep sea), and as such, they have evolved to cope with life in darkness by producing their own light, much like fireflies. This ability is called bioluminescence and simply put, it is the production of light due to an internal chemical reaction. More technically, it is the light energy produced as a result of the interaction of the compound luciferin with o

Islands in the Orinoco

To the east of Trinidad and Tobago is the Atlantic, on the west the Caribbean Sea. However, the most powerful influence of water on these islands might be the fresh waters coming off the South American mainland. This week, Anjani Ganase, marine biologist, looks at the mighty Orinoco river whose delta comprises islands many times the size of Trinidad. This feature was first published in the Tobago Newsday on Thursday, December 1, 2016 Follow Anjani Ganase on twitter: @AnjGanase “When Columbus sailed into the Gulf of Paria he had to make sense of two anomalies. His navigational readings were picking up the earth’s equatorial bulge, and the Orinoco being in spate meant that the water was fresh. Captivated by the apparently friendly natives, the exuberant vegetation, the benign climate and the extraordinary landscape, he called the area Tierra de Gracia (Graceland).” -John Stollmeyer, Place of Beginnings, the World Views of the Amerindians of Cairi and of Medie