Showing posts from July, 2017

Life at the Sandy Bottom

Marine scientist Anjani Ganase discusses sedimentary habitats that are abundant in the ocean but less recognized as ecosystems worth protecting. Sedimentary habitats are exactly what they sound like, areas of sandy, or muddy marine habitats that result from settlements of sand and sediment particulates in locations of lower water movement. When we think of sandy habitats, we imagine shallow lagoonal areas along the coastline, which include areas along the bases of coral reefs in deep harbour bays such as Maracas Bay, Charlotteville and Scarborough. These types of habitats also extend to great depths beyond the continental shelf. Although these habitats may not be the postcards of marine biodiversity, the varying environments in which they are found make them quite diverse in terms of the communities that can live there. As sedimentary habitats are so extensive and rarely accessible, many of these places are underexplored especially in deeper locations; and to this today, the ex

The Travels of the Hawksbill Turtle

Marine scientist and Technical Advisor to Save Our Sea turtles (SOS) Tobago, Dr Michelle Cazabon-Mannette, describes the fascinating life cycle of hawksbill turtles, the long journeys they make, the different habitats they inhabit, and the challenges they face. This article first appeared in the Tobago Newsday on Thursday 20h July 2017 A hawksbill hatchling makes its way to the sea. Photo courtesy Ryan P. Mannette We start the tale on a warm sandy beach in the tropics, where a female hawksbill has laid a clutch of about 150 round white eggs each the size of a golf ball. The eggs will incubate for about 60 days, before hatching in synchrony. Once the eggs hatch, it takes several days for the hatchlings, with an average shell length of just 4cm or 1.5 inches, to climb to the surface of the sand. They work together to wriggle their way through the sand, but once they hit the surface, it’s “every man for himself” as they make a mad dash for the sea. Natural instincts kick in and

Hold your breath and dive deep!

Spearfisher Phillip Almandoz gives his insight to the sport of spearfishing and discusses the progress of the Tobago Freedive Spearfishing Challenge which he started in 2010. This year, 2017, it was held on June 17 and 18; and hosted in Castara, attracting a large number of freedivers in their search for underwater game. Free-spirited freediving spearfishers celebrate after this year's rournament. (All photos courtesy Phillip Almandoz) The challenge is to dive, spear a fish and return with it to the boat, on one breath. Some people can dive deeper than 100 feet on one breath. My normal dive on a single breath is 1.15 to 1.30 minute. I don’t try to push myself; after all, I have a young family, my wife and two children, six and three. Freediving is a very dangerous sport. You should be trained. And you have to be very disciplined. Just think about it, you dive deep, spear a fish and have to fight to get the fish back to the surface. If you overspend your time down there

Why we should stop eating sea turtles

Marine scientist, Dr Michelle Cazabon-Mannette, argues that turtles alive are far more valuable than for food. This loggerhead turtle was recently stranded on the east coast of Trinidad with a possible boat strike injury. "Sammy" is currently undergoing treatment (Ryan P. Mannette)  In Tobago we have a taste for turtle meat, and many of us think it is a luxury that is our right to enjoy. But it is a luxury that right now we have to learn to forego. Why? 1)    Sea turtles are valuable in many ways, and we want future generations to be able to enjoy and benefit from these values. Sea turtle products such as meat, eggs and shells have been consumed by man for thousands of years. Prehistoric peoples in the Caribbean exploited sea turtles substantially, for at least 4,000 years. There is no denying these animals are a valuable source of protein. We say sea turtles have consumptive value because their products can be consumed. Sea turtles can also be considered