Showing posts from February, 2020

Carnival under the Seas

We dress up to blend into a sea of beads and feathers. Two days in fancy dress is enough for most of us; and now the Carnival is over. However, there are marine creatures that spend their lives masquerading under the sea in the Caribbean. Dr Anjani Ganase presents some of these creatures in the Carnival that continues year round under the sea. The Basket Star: Like something out of an alien movie or an old mas band, the basket star can be found wrapped in a tight ball under rocks and in sponges during the day, but at night they extend ornate arms into the water column to trap plankton. Careful not to shine the torch on them too long or they’ll curl up and retreat back into hiding. The Basket Star photo Anjani Ganase The Snake Eel is common on Caribbean reefs and is the reason that many people believe sea snakes can be found in the Caribbean. Alas the snake eel is a type of fish, and not a snake.   There are two species of “snake eels”, the sharptail ee

Walking tall around the world

With technology, some skills may be “endangered.” Dr Anjani Ganase looks at the traditions of stilt walking around the world, and celebrates the revival of Moko Jumbies.  The art of stilt walking was created by multiple cultures around the world for practical purposes. There were many advantages to being elevated, to be able to reach higher, see farther, wade deeper and move faster. In many places, the skills of stilt walking also drove the competitive and entertaining aspects of proving one’s skills, from which emerged the use of stilt walking in dance and games.   Today, we may have moved beyond the need of the stilts as tools, but they continue to be used in lively art forms, with special appeal to youth.   Here, in Trinidad and Tobago, our stilt walkers, the Moko Jumbies dare to go higher, and to move in more complex manners. Being among Moko Jumbies is mesmerizing, it’s like being among giants. Let’s dig into their history and find out what they represented.   Fire brea

The Parrot and the Parrotlet

Faraaz Abdool, photographer and birder, tells us about the members of the parrot family that are native to Tobago. All photos courtesy Faraaz Abdool In this season, look up into the immortelles blooming on the hills, you are sure to see these parrots. Some Orange-winged Parrots have brown faces. Some theorize it is a variant of the plumage, others are of the view that the brown is a result of pollen staining while eating immortelle flowers.   Widespread across tropical and subtropical regions around the world, members of the parrot family have charmed humans with their vivid coloration, extraordinary intelligence and charismatic personalities. Whether we’re speaking of cockatoos, lorikeets, macaws or budgerigars, members of this family are immensely popular and immediately recognizable. It is theorized that ancient parrots have been present on the earth for up to 66 million years. Indeed, this would mean that our feathered friends were present during th

Do we look like aliens to an octopus?

Paul the Octopus shot to fame when he was used to predict World Cup winners in 2010. How intelligent are these creatures? Dr Anjani Ganase explains in this creature feature. Cephalopods (head-foot) The group of marine creatures that includes squids, cuttlefish and octopus are in a family called cephalopod, which literally translates head-foot. Most cephalopods look as if they completely lack a body.   The basic anatomy of a cephalopod consists of a mantle (the head), a siphon or funnel for propulsion, two large eyes and eight tentacles. While some cephalopods have internal structure or bone, such as squid and cuttlefish, octopuses lack any bones or skeletal structure and as a result are extremely flexible and capable of morphing to fit through tight spaces. Conversely, the nautilus, which is a distant cousin, has a more rigid shape because of its large, external coiled shell. The shell features a series of chambers that can be filled with air/ gas and used as ballasts to con