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Showing posts from 2018

Twelve Coral Gifts for Christmas and 2019

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2018 was designated the third International Year of the Reef (IYOR) by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). This was precipitated by the most recent mass coral bleaching event; and follows two previous devastating events which led to the first IYOR in 1997 and the second in 2008. In the latest Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists predict the loss of many of the world’s iconic coral reefs if global temperatures continue to rise by more than 1.5C. To honour the reefs in the Caribbean, Dr Anjani Ganase brings us twelve gifts of Coral for Christmas, and the wish that we appreciate the ocean and coral reefs before they are lost. The seventh day of Christmas, colonies of mountainous star corals, Orbicella faveolata , dance under the waves in the Florida Keys (Photo courtesy The Ocean Agency)  The first day of Christmas, we have the yellow pencil coral, Madracis mirabilis , carpeting the reef slope of Angel Reef in Speyside

Into The Blue: The Ocean We Want

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The Blue Economy defines the values and benefits to be derived sustainably from the ocean. In this introduction, Dr Anjani Ganase presents the outline for countries’ relationship with the ocean. In future features, she will expand what the blue economy should mean for Tobago and Trinidad. Humans have utilised aquatic and marine resources over centuries for food, water supply, extraction of materials and avenues of transport for trade and exploration. We have benefitted from the ocean as it moderates temperature and atmosphere and climate – it stores 90 % of our heat and 30 % of our carbon emissions. If we were to quantify the assets that we receive from the ocean (fisheries, coastal protection, tourism, carbon sequestration, transport etc.), the ocean would have Gross Marine Product (GMP) that would equate to some ~ 24 trillion USD (equivalent to the 7th highest economy in the world). Note that this value does not include the value of offshore oil and gas, nor does it include a va

Tobago: research-based marine tourism centre

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Small efforts in coral reef research and management taking place in Tobago give Shivonne M. Peters hope. Is it possible to combine conservation and research-based tourism for Tobago, she asks. Peters is Managing Director of Seven Environmental- a consultancy company for the marine sector – and a PhD candidate at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Contact her at sevenenvironmental@hotmail.com Coral reefs in Tobago cover an area of about thirty square kilometres, and are found on both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean coasts. In fact, several dive sites in the Columbus Passage (Flying and Cove Reefs, Diver’s Thirst and Diver’s Dream) are rated as some of the best drift dive sites in the Caribbean. While importance to the ecosystem services they provide - shoreline protection, fish nurseries and erosion regulation - cannot be understated, the significance to research-based tourism industry is a compelling developing sector. This habitat for organisms from megafauna (sharks

PICKING SENSE OUT OF NONSENSE

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Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, wonders about the wisdom of destroying a protected marine ecosystem, the only one in Trinidad and Tobago, with a strategy to recreate it sometime in the future. She responds to the press conference of the Minister Stuart Young, and representatives of Sandals, the Government’s business partner, which was held on November 26.  “Nature refers to all the animals, plants, rocks, in the world and all the features, forces and processes that happen and exist independently of people , such as the weather, the sea, mountains, the production of young animals or plants, and growth” (Cambridge Dictionary). There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of nature. Despite humankind’s infiltration into nearly every ecosystem and eco-space on earth, there is need to preserve as much of the natural world. Our air, our climate, our food and everything needed to advance us, comes from nature. With nature comes biodiversity; the number of organisms - pl

OUR ONCE AND FUTURE ISLANDS

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Imagine! Our emerald isles, green and serene. Tobago – unspoilt, undiscovered, untouched - remains the beacon of what our two islands can become again. So what lies beyond Petrotrin, beyond the stink of oil and gas? What is on the blue horizon for Tobago and Trinidad? Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, explores the way to our future with information taken from the IPCC assessment report 5. It is clear, according to the last report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), we need to make changes as quickly as possible. As our lifestyles continue to advance, our energy consumption is expected to more than double from 2010 in 2050 unless we drastically reduce greenhouse gas emission. Climate change has already resulted in scorched landscapes.  Island nations are drowning, adding climate refugees to the caravans. Coral reefs are decimated worldwide. We cannot imagine what life would be like in 2050 if we continue business as usual. Fortunately, scientists have ris

Living in the Heart of Tobago

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The heart of Tobago is its biodiversity in forest such as the Main Ridge Reserve; and offshore coral reefs; and very deep Atlantic zones. Sustaining biodiversity by preserving natural habitat is one of the mandates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest report. In the recent decades, Tobago tourism has moved to accommodations that live lightly on the earth. Travel with Faraaz Abdool, birding enthusiast and eco-tour guide, to his favourite place on the island. Learn more about how this resort has integrated itself with the rainforest at https://www.cuffie-river.com First published in Newsday Tobago, November 22, 2018   Look for the diamond-shaped sign painted forest green along the winding Northside Road past Moriah. Turn off the main road and follow the signs to Cuffie River Nature Retreat. The transformation begins. Gradually, the sound of other vehicles gives way to that of wind rustling through leaves, huge groves of bamboo creaking and groa

BUCCOO IN THE TIME OF CLIMATE CHANGE

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How will climate change impact Trinidad and Tobago? What will sea level rise mean for settlements on coastal fringes, including Trinidad’s Port of Spain and Tobago’s bayside communities? Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, spells out predictions of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report 1.5, and makes an urgent call to action.   Since the beginning of the industrial era (1880-1900), just over a hundred years ago, humans have put enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise the global temperature by nearly one degree Celsius. This is rapid accelerated warming; before that, historical changes in the planet’s temperature occurred over several hundred-thousands of years. Even then it was associated with mass extinction events. Today, the global community is treading a dangerous path, almost past the point of no return. Our future will be hotter and more extreme; temperatures will continue to rise because of what we’ve already pumped into the atmosph

VIEW FROM THE SEA: ENGLISHMAN’S BAY

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It’s always useful to try a different perspective, especially on places we have become accustomed to. Faraaz Abdool, birding enthusiast and guide to wild Tobago, approaches Englishman’s Bay from the sea; and feels like he’s discovered a new world, coming ashore for the first time. As baitfish congregated in the shallows, there was a feeding frenzy among the attending gulls, terns and noddies. Photo by Joanne Husain Englishman’s Bay has been earmarked as a marine protected area for its coral reefs and idyllic habitat for nesting sea turtles. A quick stroll along the beach will clue even the most casual observer into why turtles love to nest here – loose, large-grained sand helps make the mountainous task of nest excavation a little easier for these ancient oceanic reptiles. Divers and snorkelers frequent this bay for its extensive marine life that is present all year round. Many tourists take the hour-long drive from the bustling south-west of the island to suddenly veer off