Showing posts from January, 2018

Time to Think Small

Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, proposes a different way of looking at the world. “To think big, we first need to see the small things,” she says, as she looks into the ocean. What is the most abundant group of organisms in the oceans, and why do they matter? When I first started my degree in Marine Biology, I - like many others – was excited to begin exploring the world of fish, crabs, critters, whales and even sharks. To my surprise, we had to begin with the smallest of things, the foundation of all ecosystems, understanding the microbial universe. Microscopic organisms, although we can’t see them, are crucial for life and are constantly providing us with all essentials nutrients and removing our waste, they are the cogs in the wheel of life. Microorganisms are invisible to the naked eye and typically constituted of single-celled entities. Furthermore microorganisms are everywhere, yes everywhere! They can be found in deep scalding undersea volcanic vents and even on the s

Sea Turtles and Climate Change

"Hot chicks, cool dudes," is the saying that helps us remember that warmer temperatures are likely to produce more females in a nest of reptile eggs. Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, considers the conservation of sea turtles in the face of changing climate. (First published in Tobago Newsday, January 18, 2018) Although my career as a marine scientist is still in its infancy, I have managed to witness substantial declines in coral reef ecosystems over the past ten years. While surveying some of these reefs frequented by other megafauna, such as manta rays and turtles, it made me wonder how these long-lived ocean residents, dependent on these ecosystems, were dealing with the rapid changes that have been occurring over the last thirty years. Sea turtles in particular, are an ancient species living in the present-day marine world. They have been around for about 100 million years (humans have only been here for about 200,000 years), having survived the last ma

Island Connections to the Pacific

From her University of Queensland base in Brisbane Australia, Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, visits islands in the South Pacific and finds familiar island traits with her Caribbean home. Just off the east coast of Australia, lies Vanuatu, 83 islands in the south western Pacific with a culture vastly different from that of Australian neighbours. There, I found similarities with Caribbean culture and ecosystem that resonated with me. Their island culture is also well-blended with indigenous and colonial influences and has become its own identity. The islands of Vanuatu occupy about 680,000 sq-km of the south-western Pacific region. Their official languages include English and French, but there are over a hundred languages spoken across different islands and communities and the dominant creole language throughout the islands is Bislama. A blend of English and indigenous languages of Vanuatu, Bislama has morphed grammatically into a distinctive form. This language permits commu

The Zero Waste Challenge

Tobago's iconic locations are well-kept and tidy; cleaned overnight, ready for visitors every morning. But do you know where the trash goes? Do you think you can live so lightly that you generate no waste? Take the Zero Waste Challenge and find out how far you have to go to Zero. Like all challenges of this nature, it asks us to consider the process of approaching “zero waste.” We are led to consider consumption patterns, use, re-use and recovery of waste products.  Even if we don’t get to zero waste, perhaps we may re-consider the growing hills of garbage and come to regard them as resources for new industries. Recycled plastic is already being used to make shoes and bags; fabric and furniture, or construction and road building material. A few countries have turned to renewable sources of energy; and support industries that produce zero waste. Other communities are repairing and repurposing used items. Perhaps, this is an exercise that may be developed as a study for