Showing posts from November, 2019

Adventure in Bioluminescence

Duane Kenny is a Tobago adventure guide. Travel with him around Tobago from Pigeon Point to Charlotteville. Learn to “stand up paddle” (SUP) off Pigeon Point. Windsurf with his brother Brett at Radical Sports. In this adventure, Duane takes a small group to see the “lights in the lagoon” one moonless night. (This was first published in Newsday Tobago, November 28, 2019) Take a night when moon is on the wane and endless rain has been falling on the mangroves. Take four or five persons – the recommended minimum for a tour – who may not know each other too well: an artist, a practical do-it-fix-it man, a writer, a person helping humans with horses, and a non-swimmer. Put them together with an experienced guide. We arrive at the Pigeon Point base of the Radical Sports Limited Tobago, where our tour guide for the evening is Duane Kenny. His briefing is casual but direct. We will all wear life jackets.   We will all paddle; on no account should anyone just let the paddle go i

Wildfires and Climate Change

Our islands may have been paying closer attention to wildfires in recent dry seasons with precautions to eliminate them. However, fires raging across Australia, California and Brazil have been so numerous and extensive as to attract international attention. Dr Anjani Ganase looks at what might be affecting these. In recent years, there has been a record number of wildfires occurring around the world, cycling through the northern and southern hemispheres to match the seasons of hot and dry conditions. For this year, Brazil lost over a million acres of rainforest to wildfire in August, while three million hectares of land burned in the Siberian wildfires affecting the air quality and health of numerous Russian cities. In October, parts of central and southern Africa were also ablaze along with over 6000 fires burning across California over 250,000 acres of land.   Today, parts of Australia continue to burn as a result of over a hundred fires and over 300,000 acres being burned alo

Leave me the birds and the bees ... please!

Like Joni Mitchell in her song “Big Yellow Taxi,” Faraaz Abdool pleads for his beloved birds: not many will survive the onslaught of toxic chemicals used to rid backyard gardens and agri-holdings of pests. What should we be doing to protect the crops? All photos courtesy Faraaz Abdool    Bees are valuable pollinators A poisoned bee lies dead after crawling around convulsing. (Dead bees have been turning up ever since a new neighbour moved in next door to us, he sprays constantly) Let’s not debate what makes a pest a pest. Instead, let’s figure out how we decide what is fit to be freely dispensed into the environment. There is a wide selection of bottles and cans available in your local plant or agro-shop – herbicides and pesticides and insecticides – which do the jobs of getting rid of weeds, “pests” and insects. First of all, do we take the time to read the labels? The sad truth is that most of us don’t, taking for granted that a sense of responsibili

Parenting on Coral Reefs

Dr Anjani Ganase looks at how the next generation is nurtured, on land and in the ocean Parenting is not just something we do as humans; rather it is an evolutionary trait adopted by animals to care for their offspring during the nesting and juvenile stages of their lifecycle in order to improve the chances of survival through a successful transfer of genetic traits. Because parenting is energy intensive, parents can often only invest time and energy in a few offspring rather than hundreds or even thousands. There is a trade off in what a parent invests against the number offspring being born. Whales, for example, only produce one calf every couple of years. The mother will spend years nurturing the calf, teaching it how to hunt and survive. Conversely, marine turtles come ashore to lay hundreds of eggs, but they don’t stick around to guide the hatchlings to the water or show them how to navigate the open ocean. Their offspring rely heavily on their genetic

Outbreak of Stony Coral Disease

Are corals doomed? They seem to be under attack from more and different maladies that are the result of worsening environmental conditions. Dr Anjani Ganase shares information about what to look for when you dive Tobago’s reefs The Stony Coral Tissue Loss is best explained through its descriptive name. It first appeared in the Caribbean in the Florida Keys in 2014, on a coral reef that was being impacted by a port-dredging project (Jackson and Prentice 2019). Since then, the disease has spread to at least eight other countries, including Mexico, Jamaica and with the latest occurrence in St Kitts and Nevis in August of this year (Kramer et al 2019). As the disease progresses through the Lesser Antilles and towards Trinidad and Tobago, we need to the understand the devastating impacts of the disease, and what scientists are doing in the attempt to curb the spread. The giant brain coral in Speyside is one of the species of coral that is highly susceptible to the Stony Coral