Showing posts from September, 2020

Protection needed for Global Travellers

Faraaz Abdool is looking out for high-flying tourists. He tells us how climate change and human expansion now threaten the amazing life and travels of shorebirds, many of which may be seen on the beaches and coasts of Tobago at this time of year.   White-rumped Sandpiper: Young birds on their first migration are inquisitive, like this White-rumped Sandpiper. Their curiosity disappears as they mature, perhaps an indication of learned behaviour. Photo by Faraaz Abdool   Discerning eyes may have noticed an influx of different looking birds within the past few weeks. Mostly various combinations of brown, grey and white, these supposed interlopers are shorebirds. They are not trespassing on our islands however; they are travelers and know no boundaries of country or territory. Breeding in the northernmost reaches of barely habitable land, shorebirds perform one of the largest mass migrations on the planet each year. For us sedentary observers it will take some mind-bending to begin to

When Lightning Strikes

  As we go through the peak of the hurricane season, Dr Anjani Ganase warns of the perils of lightning strikes. Watch from a safe place and wonder at nature’s amazing light shows.   There are many forms of lightning strikes. Within storm clouds, positive and negative charges form as ice particles move around under turbulent conditions. Typically, the top portion of the cloud develops a net positive charge, while the bottom of the cloud becomes net negative. Sheet lightning is the result of the discharge of these charges and the formation of electricity within the clouds. Sometimes the discharge occurs between the cloud and the earth and there are four different lightning patterns that can be formed staccato, forked, ribbon and bead lightning. A negative lightning strike occurs between the net negative charge of the cloud base and the earth where it grounds itself. Conversely, positive lightning strikes are rarer where the positive charge of the cloud found at much higher altitudes

School at Home

Mary Dena Hall, educator and principal of the Michael K Hall Community School in Carnbee Tobago for 25 years, offers some thoughts on home schooling the primary school age child in the era of Covid-19. Photos courtesy Mary Hall     Hula hoop session at Michael K Hall Community School   The Community School Concept We dreamed of a space that would be a primary school – for ages four and a half to 13 years – by day; and a community school for children and adults in the evening and the weekend. The community component would draw on parents, neighbors or friends; it could include aerobics, computer literacy, piano lessons, adult literacy; and could also use our computer-based programmes. Anybody would be welcome; we had few restrictions.     Mary and Tony Hall moved to Tobago in 1987; the MK Hall Community School started in 1994. (All photos courtesy Mary Hall)   We named the school for Tony’s Dad, Michael K. Hall, who was respected for his lifetime of teac

Oil Spills and Coral Reefs

As an oil and gas producing nation, Trinidad and Tobago must be prepared for rapid responses to spills. Dr Anjani Ganase, coral reef ecologist, looks at the response to the spill in Mauritius’s pristine coral reef.   There is nothing more ominous than watching thick, black viscous oil invade transparent waters obliterating the bright colours and bustling life of a coral reef. These scenes have been observed by the Mauritians over the last month as the Japanese vessel, MV Wakashio, grounded itself on their reef. The ship carried a combination of diesel and a low sulfur grade fuel oil, which leaked up through a cracked hull. The distresses experienced by Mauritius over the last thirty days surrounding the vessel grounding are numerous. The location of the spill is along the coral barrier reef near Point d’Esny, which is part of a complex reef system with an outer barrier reef the shelters a shallow, calm lagoon system that is home to seagrass beds, brackish water environments and man