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Showing posts from June, 2017

Lionfish: the perfect invader?

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Fadilah Ali is an ecologist with a specialty in invasive species biology, control and management. She has a Masters degree in Environmental Science with a focus on Biodiversity and Conservation and is currently completing her PhD in Ocean and Earth Sciences at the University of Southampton in England where she researched the lionfish invasion in the Southern Caribbean.

As it glides past with its large, ornate, feathery pectoral fins, lionfish give the impression of a harmless beauty, simply floating by peacefully. Introduced to the Caribbean region more than two decades ago, lionfish have been deemed as one of the worst marine invasive species of all time, with potential to cause harm to local ecosystems, both ecologically and economically. Native to the Indo-Pacific region, lionfish are a prime commodity within the aquarium trade owing to their beautiful, ornate patterns and majestic attributes. This popularity brought them to the Caribbean as a prized pet and unfortunately resul…

Exploring the Deep Ocean off Tobago

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There’s more sea than meets the eye off Tobago. Enter the depths with Diva Amon, a deep-sea biologist who has explored the deep ocean in Antarctica, the Atlantic and the Pacific. She has experience in chemosynthetic habitats and anthropogenic impacts on the deep sea. You can find out more via her Twitter (https://twitter.com/DivaAmon) and her website (https://divaamon.com/). This feature was first published in the Tobago Newsday on June 22, 2017 When you imagine Tobago, you see turquoise waters on the shores of beautiful white-sand beaches or glimpses of coral reefs teeming with colourful fishes. Few people ever give thought to what exists further out to sea from Tobago’s coast, where the sea turns from turquoise to deep blue. This is surprising given that most of the ocean surrounding our twin-island state is actually far below the reach of scuba divers; it extends to depths of nearly four kilometres. Our deep ocean is out of sight and out of mind but it is a place where weird and wo…

Islands in an Ocean at risk

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On Tobago, few people live further than walking distance from a coast. A majority of the population derives its livelihood from the sea: whether it is indirectly through tourism, or directly from an occupation on the sea. People are also heavily dependent on transportation and supplies by sea – ferries from Trinidad – and energy sources – oil, gas, electricity – conveyed to the island by boat or undersea cable or pipeline.

The west coast of Tobago is washed by the Caribbean Sea; the east coast by the Atlantic Ocean. The island is bathed by the Guiana current bringing seasonal outflow from South America’s mighty Orinoco river.  This week, we look at some of the changes in the state of the ocean, and the likely effects on Tobago and its people. We also consider some of the things that communities might do to stop the decline. The principal source is the overview of the first World Ocean Assessment (WOA) report compiled and published by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)…

A Change of Heart

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Many dive operators are hunters, capturing trophy or food fish.  After more than 25 years diving, Ron Tiah, operating Dive TnT, has turned himself into an ocean protector. Today, he shoots lionfish to save the coral reefs. And he shoots with his camera so that we can see what’s alive in the ocean, the good and the bad. This feature was first published in the Tobago Newsday on June 8, World Oceans Day. All photos courtesy Ron Tiah


Who is Ron Tiah?
I grew up in Pointe-a- Pierre; my dad Robert Tiah was Rexformer Superintendent at the Texaco Refinery. I would say he was my mentor and hero. I inherited my love for the sea, the land and conservation from him. He cultivated one of the most successful citrus plantations in Trinidad, still operating today. He was also an academic, who insisted on further studies for me at Albert College and York University in Canada. I also wanted to learn to scuba dive.

In those days, late 70s, you signed up and had to be “accepted” to the scuba course. There…

Take a walk in the wild

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On June 5, everyone on the planet – each of the seven billion of us – is invited to remember our place in nature. Human beings are not apart from nature, we are a part of nature. The theme for World Environment Day 2017 is “connecting people to nature – in the city and on the land, from the poles to the equator.” Here in Tobago, we are fortunate to be able to renew this connection in direct ways. No one has to go far to be in nature. Schools and families are encouraged to select an activity that awakens these connections. This feature was first published in the Tobago Newsday on June1, 2017
In Tobago, we are the best hosts. We can recommend all the places that delight visitors: the beaches, the waterfalls, the forest walks. How many of these places do we – apart from those who work as guides or tour operators – actually know intimately? This World Environment Day, we suggest that you renew your acquaintance with what brings visitors here. Sometimes we need to see our surroundings thro…