Showing posts from October, 2020

Herons and Egrets of Tobago

Faraaz Abdool discusses these elegantly shaped wading birds. If you enjoy his way of helping us to see birds, look for the newest birding publication on Amazon, Casual Birding in Trinidad and Tobago. All photos are by Faraaz Abdool. Some of the most commonly encountered birds are members of the family Ardeidae, with their distinctive shape and gait. Often long-legged and long-necked, these lithe masters of the sit-and-wait are fixtures around coasts and waterways all over the world. This global family consists of around 63 species, of which more than a third has been recorded within Trinidad and Tobago. Herons, bitterns and egrets share many of the same characteristics. They all have a long, pointed bill at the end of a long neck that is often held in an ‘S’ shape. When retracted, these birds look comically stocky – but let this not fool you. This is the proverbial coiled spring, the cocked gun, and the drawn bow – ready to let fly at a moment’s notice. That poi

Classrooms in the Sea and Swamp

Dr Stanton Belford is a Trinidadian marine scientist from Temple Street, Arima who is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Biology at Martin Methodist College in Tennessee USA.   One of his significant research studies is on the reefs of Toco. Until he can bring his students back to visit Buccoo Reef and the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, he believes that residents of Tobago and Trinidad should become familiar with these well-loved assets. Photos courtesy Dr Stanton Belford   Recently I saw Dr. Anjani Ganase, Associate Member of SpeSeas, speaking to The Now Morning Show (TTT) and The Morning Brew (TV6) about public online access to a 360-degree viewing of coral reefs in Tobago through the Maritime Ocean Collection website. I was ecstatic, because now I could sit at my computer in Tennessee, whilst viewing corals, fishes, and other organisms located in Tobago. How can we learn more about the vast oceans, whilst not being able to visit our beaches? I thought

Let's get the Children back to Nature!

Our Covid-19 internment has double damaging effects on children: imprisoning them indoors and putting them in front of screens for extended periods. Pat Ganase urges parents and educators to take children back to Nature for health and wellbeing, and to stir their creative imaginations. Photos by Mary Hall       Rainforest hike with Dread Hiking, operated by one of Mary Hall’s past pupils.       Our children find their way into nature from the time they can crawl. Often, unsupervised discoveries are frowned upon. “Oh, dirty!” or “Come and wash those hands and feet.” Research over the recent decades reveals that these experiences are beneficial for curious minds and ought to be directed by parents and caregivers as obvious ways for educating from home.   When I was in primary school - “Tranquil” in Port of Spain - I remember mostly the classes held outside in the yard. And one of my earliest treasured photographs was sitting on the root stumps of a sprea

Warning: The Caribbean Sea is Heating up!

The warming water of the Caribbean Sea has implications for more than storms and hurricanes. Coral reef ecologist Dr Anjani Ganase warns of other dangers in the warming ocean. The outlook for coral reefs around Tobago – and impacts on livelihoods - ten years after the last significant event looks grim.   These days we can feel the heat on the land and in the sea. With the increasing effects of a warming world and the changing climate, the months of September and October are especially challenging for coral reef scientists. Forty years ago, the water temperature would – on occasion - get too warm for corals. These days, ocean temperatures are rising annually to temperatures that may be too warm even for tropical coral reefs.   Coral Reef Watch Coral Reef Watch was developed by NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, USA) following the first major global coral bleaching event in 1997 /1998. They realized that coral reefs around the world were bleaching duri

On-line Learning Goes Underwater

Now students of all ages are able to explore the coral reefs around Tobago from a smartphone or computer. Dr Anjani Ganase talks with Kelly Mannette Education Officer of the Buccoo Reef Trust about the Maritime Ocean Collection (   After several months of diving to collect the images, and almost a year to apply the technology, the on-line collection of the 360-imagery on Tobago’s coral reefs is available, accessible at and through the global collection launched via Google and Underwater Earth.   Viewers can “virtually dive” to explore the reefs and focus on what interests them.   The campers of the Sun, Sea and Science Camp in Tobago, in 2019, were among the first children to be introduced to virtually dive the coral reefs of Tobago, as well as coral reefs all around the world. This month, The Maritime Ocean Collection goes live. It is the first collection featuring 360-degree imagery of Tobago’s coral reefs that is now f