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Showing posts from November, 2017

The Deep Ocean has no Borders

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Journey 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/).

We now know that the seas around Trinidad and Tobago boast unique and ecologically important deep-sea methane seeps. It is useful that we have taken the first steps to answer the most basic of questions about the Caribbean deep ocean, “What lives there?” But what about even more complex questions such as “How do species find and colonize these relatively small and patchy chemosynthetic habitats in the huge expanse of the deep ocean?”
To get between islands, birds can fly, reptiles can raft over on flotsam, and many shallow water marine animals (fish, marine mammals, turtles, etc.) can swim the long distances, but what about deep-sea animals like the Bathymodiolus mussel…

Healthy marine systems for Tobago's business and tourism model

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Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, calls upon business to claim its share of ocean wealth while helping to conserve and manage Tobago’s offshore resources. This feature was first prepared for Contact, the magazine of the Trinidad Chamber of Industry and Commerce; and is reprinted in the Tobago Newsday on November 23, 2017
We think of the ocean and its resources as vast and endless. Goods and services provided by the ocean for humans have been estimated to be about 24 trillion USD in assets (World Wildlife Fund, 2015) more than the economy of most nations. These goods include fishing, harvesting of materials and procurement of medicine, as well as services through shoreline protection, wave energy extraction, shipping and tourism. This asset value is grossly underestimated, as it doesn’t consider the crucial roles of the ocean in regulating climate, the air we breathe and stabilising temperature, nor does it consider the intrinsic cultural value that we place on the ocean (WWF 2015). Bu…

The Secret Lives of Coral Reef Fish

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Anjani Ganase, marine biologist, looks into the world of coral reefs at some of the residents in these undersea cities. Down there, she says, it’s noisier than you think!
When we dive along coral reefs, we glimpse moments in the lives of the fish and marine creatures bustling about on their daily routines in underwater coral cities. At first glance, movements may appear arbitrary, but as you observe for a minute or two we start to recognise the activity the fish is carrying out, whether it is foraging or simply hiding out. However, for more rare activities or seasonal movements, such as at dawn or dusk or during mating season, this would require longer, more consistent times spent looking into the secret lives of fish. Here are a few observations of some reef fish behaviours:
Hunting buddies, the grouper and the moray eel
Grouper (Plectropomus pessuliferus) and Giant Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus) make an excellent partnership for hunting on the coral reefs. How this partnership cam…

Do you know where your seafood comes from?

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Anjani Ganase, marine biologist, alerts us to the risks in eating seafood of unknown origins. These are some of the questions she suggests that we ask before we purchase.
Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, I’ve had the luxury of eating freshly caught fish straight off the fisherman’s boat or caught by a family member or friend. We learned to identify the common species of fish that live in our local waters, identify their flavours and how to cook the different fish species. Other countries and cities are not as fortunate as fish is brought from great distances and often pre-packaged and frozen. Unfortunately, more and more fish are being bought in the supermarkets with fewer visits to the local fish depot; and there are fewer occasions of a friend handing over a fresh catch.
It may be that this is still happening. But, according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) since 2002, the import of fish to Trinidad and Tobago began to exceed local catch and expo…

Changing our perception of Sharks

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Anjani Ganase, marine biologist, proposes greater respect and a different understanding of the place of sharks in ocean ecosystems
When we think of sharks, we imagine them as bloodthirsty creatures, roaming the deep blue seas for unsuspecting beach-goers and swimmers. Growing up, movies such as Jaws and Deep Blue Sea instilled fear in people and children. Yes, sharks are top predators, but they don’t hunt people; and are important in keeping our marine environments in balance.
Sharks are part of a diverse sub-class, known as Elasmobranchii, which also include skates and rays. Being part of the class chondrichthyes, this means that their structure is made up of cartilage rather than bones. A lighter cartilage skeleton and a tough outer skin makes for lightweight and efficient movement through the water column. There are over 400 species of sharks globally, much higher than breeds of dogs (~340), yet we only hear of the larger, more dangerous species. Here in the Caribbean, we have a s…