Showing posts from 2018

Light and Colour under the Sea

In the International Year of the Reef 2018, Dr Anjani Ganase speculates how the loss of colour (through bleaching) on coral reefs might affect resident fish populations. Follow IYOR-T&T (@IYORTT) and AnjGanase (@AnjGanaseon twitter 
Have a look around, and see if you can distinguish the shades and intensities of colours that surround you in different levels of light. Remind yourself how vulnerable you feel in the dark. We have evolved sensitivity to colour and intensities of light, a quality crucial for survival. In order to forage for food efficiently, primates must distinguish between red and green colouration, so that in the forests we can pick out the ripe fruits, and also identify any danger lurking among the foliage (Gerl and Morris 2008). For many animals, colour along with other cues, assisted in mating; consider the plumage display of male birds or changes that indicate the females are fertile. For modern man, not being able to colour coordinate may not mean life and de…

Connected by the ocean

Water, the ocean, the medium for life, connects us all. Let it not divide us. Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, looks into appreciating water connectivity for maintaining healthy reefs around Tobago in the International Year of the Reef 2018. (Follow her on Twitter: @AnjGanase). First published in the Tobago Newsday, Thursday 12th April, 2018
The connectivity of the ocean facilitates processes such as exchange and transport of essential material (nutrients, oxygen and carbon dioxide), the migration of organisms and the dispersal of seeds and offspring between habitats. It allows marine turtles that hatch on our shores to hang out on reefs on other islands and to travel to other oceans. Whales, which prefer to raise their pups in warm waters, may grace us with Caribbean visits. Ocean connectivity allows coral reefs to be repopulated by fish and invertebrates from neighbouring reefs and from other habitats such as mangrove nurseries and seagrass beds.

The ocean is the major food sourc…

The Importance of Coral Reefs in 2018

This article is the first of a series that focuses on The International Year of the Reef 2018 and the T&T initiative. This week Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, discusses the global impacts of climate change on coral bleaching, and the significance of actions to stem climate change
2018 is the International Year of the Reef (IYOR), a global effort initiated by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) to strengthen global awareness of the value of coral reef ecosystems. In Trinidad and Tobago, under the banner of IYOR T&T, a group of marine scientists in collaboration with other partners is launching a series of activities and programmes that showcase coral reef biodiversity, their value, the threats they face and opportunities for stewardship and protection. Currently, the effects of rising ocean temperatures compounded by pollution, plastics, sedimentation, overfishing and habitat destruction are threatening the future of coral reefs.
Coral reefs are known to be nois…

Treasures of the Bon Accord Lagoon

Faraaz Abdool discusses how the resident birdlife of Bon Accord Lagoon signals a welcome for visiting species; making this part of Tobago a birdwatchers’ haven. (All photos courtesy Faraaz Abdool; see First published in the Tobago Newsday, March 29, 2018
One of the most densely populated areas in Tobago holds a treasured and under-appreciated secret. In low-lying marshy southwestern Tobago,  a vibrant and unique ecosystem supports all forms of life, from crabs that spend all their lives clinging to mangrove roots to birds that fly halfway around the world and back every year.

The Bon Accord Lagoon and surrounding wetlands have unfortunately been described as “barren” and in need of “development” – as if it isn’t already a complex, functioning system of critical players essential to the survival of not only the life of the wetland, but of the reefs, rivers and waterways of a sizeable portion of the island. Furthermore, there is no capital investment needed for this n…

Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on our Oceans

Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist and environmentalist, explains climate change, and how its effects may appear in different places at different times, or not at all in some other places. Understanding climate change and its effects is urgent for small island states.
Over the years, discussion of human-induced global warming has slowly transitioned to climate change as scientists began to realise the broader effects of industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on our planet. While global warming refers specifically to the increase in global temperatures of the atmosphere and oceans, (as a result of the heat trapping capabilities of carbon dioxide emissions - the green house effect), climate change refers to the many other changes directly as a result of CO2 or because of the rise in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures. Some other physical phenomena that are occurring as a result of higher CO2 levels and/ or rising temperatures include changes to the physical and chemical nature of t…

Observing earth from space

Dr Anjani Ganase, marine biologist and environmentalist, takes us into space for a perspective on Earth, our planet, and our home
This piece is dedicated to Dr Stephen Hawking (1942 - 2018). As a pioneering theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Dr Hawking's work and life exemplified the term - reaching for the stars.
Since the dawn of humankind, we are always looking to the stars for answers. Within this century, we succeeded in sending men and instruments into space to observe and record the cosmos. The satellites that orbit earth either point to the stars collecting information, or point to the earth relaying messages around the planet. It was in 1972, when the crew of the Apollo 17 took a moment to photograph the earth on their way to the moon, sending back the famous photo - not the first of its kind - that referred to the earth as “the blue marble.” Here was the definitive image that showed us our planet dominated by water. This photo of the blue marble displayed the souther…

The interconnected ecosystem, ridge to reef

The foresight to conserve the Main Ridge Forest “for the security of rainfall” must be extended to the coasts downstream and the coral reefs offshore in order to safeguard the quality of life on Tobago. This is the lesson from islanders on Hawai‘i.  Dr Anjani Ganase (@AnjGanase) addresses the issue of upstream misuse and downstream consequences in an extended version of the article written for the XL Catlin Seaview Survey blog in 2015 ( Follow @wildtobago on instagram, or for weekly articles in the Tobago Newsday.
In 2015, our coral reef survey team from the University of Queensland went to the reefs along Moloka‘i Island, Hawai‘i. Along this coast, we noticed several low rock wall structures made from lava rock adjacent to the coral reefs. Our skipper pointed out these structures, explaining that the Hawaiians built them about 800 years ago to rear fish to feed the villages.
The early Hawaiians observed that marine fish were attracted to…

Our Plastic Problem

Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, discusses one of the big challenges for humanity in this decade: our addiction to plastic use.
The advent of synthetic plastic products in the early 1900s was revolutionary: its durability, low cost, and malleability allowed an array of uses. Today, plastics are used in everything from packaging, extending the shelf life of food; machinery; electronics, as insulation; textiles (polyester) and even building materials. Take a look around and count the number of items you see that are made from plastic; it is everywhere. So what is the problem with plastic?

Although plastic is easy to make it is less easy to dispose of; the material can endure through multiple lifespans. About 8300 million tonnes of plastic have been produced over the last 65 years; and up to 60 % of it (~4900 million tonnes) still exists in our environment today as waste, piling up in landfills or in natural environments (Geyer et al 2017). What does this look like? The global weight o…