Environmental News Tobago

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Tobago Environmental NGO Newletter for December 2010

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Environmental News Tobago

  1. 1. Environment TO BAGO new slett er E n vi r on m e n t TO- BAGO (ET) is a non- government, non-profit, vol- unteer organisation , not Volume 5 Issue 4 December 2010 subsidized by any one group, Our Reefs are Bleaching corporation or government Marie Smedley- Project Scientist body. Coral Cay Conservation & Environment Tobago Founded in 1995, ET is a proactive advocacy group that campaigns against negative environmental activities Mass coral bleaching as a result of unusually warm sea surface wa- throughout Tobago. We achieve this through a variety ter threatens the coral reefs of Tobago. of community and environ- The health and very survival of coral reefs mental outreach programmes. around Tobago is currently under threat from Environment TOBAGO is wide-spread devastation in what is now appear- funded mainly through grants ing to be the worst mass coral bleaching event and membership fees. These funds go back into implement- the Island has ever witnessed. ing our projects. We are Coral bleaching is a phenomenonthat corals dis- grateful to all our sponsors play in particularly stressful conditions, such as over the years and thank them for their continued unusually high sea-water temperatures.The algae support that provide the coral with food and live within itstissue are expelled from the living coral animal. A snapshot of the bleaching situa- As a result, the coral tissue loses its colouration tion in Speyside, Tobago. Scenes such as these can be seen and appears white; commonly referred to as throughout the Speyside region. coral bleaching. The algae provide up to 90% of the food to the coral and if they are not regained in a matter of weeks, the coral is likely to die from starvation. In 2005,unusually high sea surface temperatures caused wide-spread mortalityW hat’s inside of reef animals and a reduction of hard coral cover on many reefs around the island including Buccoo Reef, one of Tobagos main tourist attractions, renowned for its vi-ET’s achievements 1 brant and colourful reefs. A mass-bleaching event is currently unfolding in the Carib-Ecology Notes 7 bean with island nations in the Lesser Antilles including Tobago experiencing the high-Articles 7Book Review 18What’s Happening @ ET 20Notes to contributors 22 Degree Heating Week (DHW) maps provided by NOAA for the end of October 2005 (left) and 2010 (right). DHW >4 (green) indicate a bleaching threat. Alarmingly, these maps show that sea surface temperature conditions are much more stressful in 2010 than in 2005. http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/cb/dhw.html
  2. 2. Page 2 Environment TOBAGO newsletter est sea surface temperatures. Many of the popular reefs in Tobago now resemble win- ter snow scenery. The Caribbean has been warmer than average since January and temperatures in Speyside have been high enough to initiate bleaching (29.5˚C for the southern Caribbean) for nearly 2 months according to temperature logger data. Condi- December 2010 tions are considered even more stressful than 2005 in terms of sustained higher tem- peratures. During the 2005 mass-bleaching event, Speyside remained relatively unaffected.Editor:Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal It is likely that the strong local currents carried away the warmer temperatures andAssistant Editor: sediment from the Orinoco River. Unfortunately, Speyside has not been so lucky thisChristopher K. Starr year as it has suffered extensive bleaching which research-Design & Layout: ers believe may be related to the high temperatures com-Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal bined with the seasonal pulse of freshwater from the Ori-Technical Support:Jerome Ramsoondar noco River in Venezuela.Enid Nobbee The reefs around Tobago have been monitored since theContributors: last mass-bleaching event in 2005. Coral Cay Conservation,Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal a UK-based not for profit organisation, has been mappingChristopher K. StarrBertrand Bhikkary the reefs of Tobago since 2007. They are currently workingZoë Charlotte Mason with the Speyside Eco-Marine Park rangers to monitor theWilliam A. Trim extent, recovery and mortality of reefs in the areas of Spey-Marie Smedley side and Charlotteville.Environment In addition to the high water temperatures, Tobago hasTOBAGO A volunteer from CoralPhotographs: Cay Conservation moni- also been impacted by Hurricane Thomas. The resultingMarie Smedley toring the extent of the storm caused numerous landslides and muddy waters whichZoë Charlotte Mason bleaching event. have remained in Charlotteville bay for over three weeks.Environment If coral reefs recover they still remain vulnerable to diseaseTOBAGO and other environmental stressors, such as these storms. After the last bleaching event in 2005, many coral became infected with yellow blotch disease and white plague. We are now already beginning to see a number of coral diseases. Being a small tropical island, it is no secret that Tobago heavily relies on tour- ism as one of its main sources of income andBoard of Directors coral reef related activities make up a big part of 2010-2012 this income. If reefs fail to recover from thisPresident:: bleaching event, we are looking at a replacementPatricia Turpin of thriving coral reefs with abundant life to bar-Vice-President: ren seascapes dominated by seaweed. FishermenBertrand Bhikkary can expect to be spending more hours at sea toSecretary:Wendy Austin catch fewer fish if the correct action is not takenTreasurer: now. In the event that the island’s reefs shouldShirley Mc Kenna disappear, it will have severe implications for theCommittee members: economic benefits derived from these naturalKamau Akili Severe landslides (left) and muddy- resources, estimated to constitute nearly half ofWilliam Trim waters (right) in Charlotteville fol-Fitzherbert Phillips Tobagos GDP according to an economic valua- lowing Hurricane Thomas.Geoffrey Lewis tion conducted by the World Resource InstituteRupert McKenna in 20061.Claudette Allard Successful recovery of the coral reefs of Tobago depends on a number of fac-David AntoineGervais Alkins tors including:Darren Henry The presence of other healthy reefs where new coral larvae can be sourcedZoë Charlotte Mason and generated, replenishing damaged reefs. Effective sewage treatment so that chemicals that promote algae overgrowth and coral diseases do not wash onto the reefs.
  3. 3. Volume 5 Issue 4 Page 3 Stopping upland deforestation and poorly planned coastal construction projects that result in a lot of mud washing onto the reefs. 4) Healthy populations of reef fish and sea urchins to inhibit the growth of al-gae on rock and dead corals so that new corals may settle and recolonise. This can beachieved by designating healthy reef sites as no-take marine reserves. Prompt action and response is required at all levels, governmental and local.Steps need to be taken to protect fish populations and manage the water quality whilstthese reefs are recovering. Fishermen are advised to use more selective fishing tech- niques and follow guidelines as to which fish they should be removing. Waste-water removal needs to be controlled, reduced and monitored correctly. Of course members of the public have the biggest collective im- pact. Climate change is an ongoing threat: living, promoting and support- Bleached coral suffering from black band dis- ing greener lifestyles will increase the ease ( left) and white plague disease (right) in Speyside chance of survival and recovery of To- bagos reefs. "Reefs can recover from a crisis such as temperature induced mass-bleaching pro-vided that other human impacts are minimised." "Climate change is a global phenomenon which means actions elsewhere in the worldmay be transferred to very localised areas such as Tobago in this instance. Coral Cay Conser-vation is using resources to assist development of sustainable management strategies whichwill minimise these impacts and improve prospects for sustaining environmental resources." The Conflict Between Tourism and Biodiversity Conservation Patricia Turpin Environment Tobago President The Tourism Industry in Trinidad and Tobago according to the World Traveland Tourism Organization report for 2010, provides 10.9% of our National GDP (grossdomestic product) and in Tobago 51-56% of that islands GDP. That is, 1 in every 6.6jobs in T&T is connected to the Tourism industry. All economic indicators expecttourism to become increasingly important in the future. This contribution is vital tothe economy of Tobago. It is at the same time, an industry where marketing successhas been based on the environment and biodiversity. Tobago is sold as “clean, greenand serene” by the Tobago House of Assembly in its tourism thrust. Remembering that this year, 2010, has been dedicated worldwide by theUnited Nations to Biodiversity Conservation. Governments of the Caribbean, includingours have signed numerous treatises that oblige us to conserve, report on and demon-strate responsibility towards the stewardship of our natural resources. Our natural assets on which tourism depends e.g. The main Ridge Forest Re-serve- the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere and the BuccooReef , Bon Accord Lagoon complex, are two such areas protected by law and encom-
  4. 4. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 4 pass both marine and terrestrial biodiversity. These major marketing tools have been and continue to be subjected to enormous stress and conflict by the very industry which depends on them. The Tourism product normally relies on a range of usages and drawing cards to bring visitors to our shores and to make the visitor experience a memorable one. These usages can be summed up as follows; Placement of hotels and guest houses along our coasts, close to forested areas and in our wetlands Use of our natural resources, reefs, forests, beaches, wetlands and offshore islands for scuba diving, water sports, deep sea fishing, nature based tours, bird sanctuary tours, boat racing, sailing, golfing , sporting and other connected activities. These usages require the development of infra- structure to support them, which in turn requires the use of our natural resources; airports, roads, bridges, trails, marinas, water resources, electric- Conference poster ity plants, fuel depots, sewage plants, building ma- terials(sand , gravel and timber), agriculture, fish- ing, entrepreneurship in service industries, restaurants, souvenir industries etc. All of which use up our land space or habitats and displace or destroy some form of biodiver- sity. At the same time too, the general population relies on the natural environment for livelihoods and enjoyment, which puts an added burden on the conflicts that arise between tourism and our environment. Agriculture, building materials from beaches and rivers, animal husbandry, coral and seashell sales to visitors, capture and sale of wildlife, small local zoos and wildlife farms, timber and bamboo felling for the construc- tion industry and fishing. All of the previous usages and activities illustrated have created over the last two decades enormous conflicts between the Tourism sector, users of biodiversity and those who require its conservation. Two thirds of the island of Tobago is mountainous, this geological makeup indicates that our coastal areas will obviously be the most heav- ily used. A lack of proper planning and law enforcement and monitoring has created situations where all evidence points to a destruction of and stress on our biodiversity and in turn the industry which relies on it. The results of these conflicts and stresses can be witnessed in the marine sector, in rising sea levels, increased temperatures in sea water, the presence of sewage, the presence of grey domestic and hotel waste water, unchallenged coastal construction- even inside mangrove forests to the extent that reefs are currently bleaching, and coral diseases and bacteria such as cyanobacteria proliferate and fish nurseries in wetlands are declining. Our forests and watersheds are experiencing similar stressors from the burning of hillsides, removal by logging of timber, and habitat destruction. This has re- sulted in the displacement and loss of wildlife and avian fauna unparalleled in a decade or more. This situation does not auger well for the tourism industry and requires im- mediate attention to end the conflicts. Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago are more discerning than ever. Potential tour-
  5. 5. Page 5 Environment TOBAGO newsletter ists/ visitors participate and spend money in locations that show a high degree of stan- dards and responsibility in sustainable usage and biodiversity conservation. They will check websites before visiting a country and hotel or guesthouse, and will choose a location where this is demonstrated. We are required more than ever to be proac- tive rather than reactive in “greening” the industry. It is seen as our duty, to engage the moral imperative of sustainable use; as we acceded to in the signing of Agenda 21 for the tourism industry at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1972. In other words, fulfill what we promised to reduce the conflicts that arise between the Tour- ism Industry and Biodiversity Conservation. NEW PARTNERSHIPS This year has been a great year for Environment TOBAGO as we have made many new partnerships with regional and international NGOs and institutes.“ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” • Coral Cay Conservation • Garifuna Ltd • Earthwater Resources • Alt tv • Tobago Beekeepers Association • Bhp Billiton • ParCa- The Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adapta- tion Group • My Island My Community
  6. 6. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 6 Channel Alt T.V& Environment TOBAGO—Networking Opportunity Zoë Charlotte Mason Environment TOBAGO On Friday 29th October Mr Glenroy Waldron (also a WASA employee) vis- ited the office to discuss with me a potential networking opportunity for ET. For the past year he has been working on a new online-networking outlet called ‘ Channel alt Tv’ (information for which I have inserted below); and what he is proposing is… • ET to have a FREE blog/ video space • For ET to submit articles/ commentaries • For ET to advertise the ET Youth Forum and activities • For ET to participate in interviews (pertaining to environmental awareness and current island- issues) for streaming online As a passionate environmentalist, he wishes to disclose this offer to us before any other environmental group. No strings attached, no payment required from ET – sim- ply support for support. He will link our website and if we wish to do the same then that would be appreciated. I urge you to check out the website: http://www.channelalt.tv/ Who is Channel Alt? Channel Alt represents a new era of television, streaming directly out of Tobago; the smaller of the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. We strive to be “the alter- native choice” to ordinary television. Our promise is to provide our viewers with an endless variety of local programming with the main objective of highlighting the diver- sity of Trinidad and Tobago and its’ people. What is our mission? Our mission is to keep viewers informed of all the activities throughout the region and paint true images of life in paradise; No flags, raw and uncut. This former is important to us since in reality, the majority of programmes aired on television stations, particu- larly in Trinidad and Tobago are internationally based and as such, local talent is often neglected. What do we provide? Channel Alt believes that culture is limited but creativity is diverse. Our plan is to pack- age and sell to the world a collage of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean by exten- sion. Channel Alt’s team contributes diverse skill sets, providing services in the follow- ing: • Photography • Video Production • Event Coverage • Advertising and Promotions • Websites • Social Marketing
  7. 7. Page 7 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Our proprietary programming has proven to be quite successful and has fostered a different kind of entertainment experience; where viewers are given the opportunity to interact with live shows while enjoying pre-recorded features. Our plan is to create ties and maintain relationships with every aspect of the re- gion, as we believe that we are set apart from the rest. I personally feel that this is an invaluable opportunity – for diversifying and increas- ing ET exposure and as another means to submit written work/ideas. I look forward to hearing from you! TOBAGO TACKLES CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH INNOVATIVE PROJECT Hyacinth Armstrong Project Mentor – My Island My Community Tobago (Scarborough, Tobago) Islands are leading the way in addressing climate change. Small islands, especially, are vulnerable to its impacts on ecosystems, protected areas, economies, tourism and local communities. While global attention has been brought to bear on this issue, there remains a critical communication challenge: how to effectively engage the public, ensuring they have access to sound and timely information and a clear vision of what they can do to help mitigate the challenges posed by climate change. My Island-My Community (MIMC) is a 12-country three-pronged communica- tions initiative – regional radio soap opera, national radio call-in programme, and na- tional My Community Campaign – to build public awareness and encourage widespread“ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” behavior change with regard to small island community preparedness and adaptation to climate change. The program will broadcast across Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands, and East- ern Caribbean countries, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tobago and The Bahamas. In Tobago, this regional project is managed by the Speyside Eco-Marine Park Rangers (SEMPR), a community-based organization (CBO) that operates in the north east village of Speyside, Tobago. SEMPR, along with the Buccoo Reef Trust, the To- bago House of Assembly, Environment TOBAGO, Save Our Seaturtles, Radio Tambrin, and the Belle Garden Wetland Association and the Caribbean Youth Environ- ment Network and other key agencies and groups engaged in a two day workshop on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 October at the Half Moon Blue Hotel, Bacolet, Tobago in order to coordinate, finalise and formalize the Tobago My Community Campaign. The main facilitators at this workshop included a team from PCI-Media Impact, a nonprofit organization based in New York, USA and St. Lucia, and representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Media Impact is the implementing organisation for the regional MIMC initiative and has 25 years of experience using creative media, the power of storytelling and the reach of broadcast media to mobilize individual, commu- nity and political action to address a wide range of social and environmental issues. MIMC-Tobago was officially launched with a press conference on Friday 8 Oc- tober from 10 am at the Blue Haven Hotel Conference Room at Bacolet, Tobago.
  8. 8. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 8 MIMC-Tobago has been generously funded by the UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Agency for International Development, The Nature Conservancy and GLISPA.fi Climate change, biodiversity, and the new government Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO In May, emulating other groups worldwide, our NGO hosted a display of re- cently completed environmental projects at the Lowlands mall. Normally our participation in this kind of event assures that we achieve a measur- able impact, even if its a tiny one. It generates a warm glow that motivates our little community to persevere between infrequent opportunities to meet the public via education and advocacy drives. However Environment Tobagos com- memoration of this years International Year of Biodiversity was overshadowed by the drama at- Children visiting our booth at Low- tending the unexpected general election among lands Mall the wider population. Our volunteers spent three days harassing the mall walkers - even a few shop- pers, but in the end we had to call it quits, surrendering to the prevailing mood. Con- cerns for the environment had lost ground to the election madness. Almost a week has elapsed since the election, and a mood of hiatus persists. There are many aspects of island life to mull over now that the euphoria of the cam- paign has subsided. Yet it is care for our environment that must take precedence, even as knee jerk reactions to more visible issues like poverty or disease claim the headlines at times. Climate change. The term is an abstraction for Tobagonians. To some its negli- gible, maybe best handled by academics and the first world. At this time it’s comparable to an insects’ hum, as the tidal wave of accommodating governance roars into our lives. The reality is climate change will be a sting to our lifestyle, a catastrophe impacting on us long before the social issues we voted to address can be fixed by the new govern- ment. How will climate change affect us as individuals here? Its a question we had put repeatedly to people passing by our kiosk at the Mall. Further, we also asked them what did it have to do with snakes, insects, birds or rats. After confirming our sanity, a few admitted to not giving the matter much thought. With the exception of the birds, almost everyone engaged in conversation at the display shuddered when we mentioned the life-forms above, revealing to a point their need to understand how it all fits into place. Further, in denial, there remains un-
  9. 9. Page 9 Volume 5 Issue 4 willingness among many to accept that man alone cannot mold nature to his whim and fancy. As our listeners contemplated the specter of climate change, none could iden- tify any clear negative impact from it on their lives. If anything they were just not into that sort of thinking. Interestingly, as a group they quickly commiserated that global warming is a clear and present danger when the following scenario was related. This is what we told them. As the Earth gets progressively warmer, local climate patterns shift, and higher temperatures become evident. Its a condition to endanger plant life, that common life- form which has evolved selectively to suit narrow conditions for propagation. Historically, using skills accrued by agriculture, Man may have had a bit of suc- cess keeping plants not really suited for where he wants them. The effort is justified by its ability to bring in wealth. However wild plants are deemed to possess little value, are usually not cared for to any great extent. In the adverse climatic situations of the future many wild trees, shrubs and grasses of our wider environment will perish when their comfort zones disappear as a consequence of a hotter planet. Over the ages, it may be expected that certain plant species may adapt to the hotter and dryer conditions, but in the short-term, the vast majority of individual plants will not survive, and the animal life that lives in and around them will, by virtue of hav- ing more mobility, go further, higher, to the next available belt of greenery. As its accepted that cooler conditions prevail at greater altitudes, the plants will seek optimum ground, as will the animals living with them. Generally that means“ Climate Change birds, frogs, some insects, and even snakes will move uphill with the plant belt. Thewill affect your dryer flatter spaces will be no doubt remain populated by Man, a species who can con-lifestyle because it trol temperature within his immediate environment by mechanical means.can bring pests “ It will not be a joyous time. There will be no triumph for humankind as they expect to inherit potentially bug-free, pristine communities. In nature’s scheme of things, the population of certain species is regulated by predators as part of the eco- logical balance. When the plants go away, removing the habitat of unloved but key predators - like snakes, then will the numbers of some unwanted alien species spread rampantly. Rats are one of the species who will thrive in the absence of snakes. Climate Change will affect your lifestyle because it can bring pests in a future largely focused on popularly projected hazards. However its disconcertingly obvious which is the more irksome issue. Tsunamis warnings may pretty much be the big topic on television, but its the hordes of pesky rats that will concern the responsible house- keeper on a daily basis. The prognosis is not a foregone one. Humans can take climate change in stride. The key remedy has always been advocated by environmentalists and others who un- derstand the place of Homo sapiens on the planet. We need to keep suitable spaces of adequate size to support all life-forms within the zones we carve out for our habitat. Unfortunately, according to the families who spoke to our volunteers at the mall, planning green spaces takes place at governmental levels. Looking back, our na- tional ethos for development centers on everything but conservation. There have been few identifiable champions for the cause of true, practical sustainable development. One week ago, it was with things like that weighing heavily on our minds that we packed up our bags, and closed the display. What difference does a few days make? Maybe this new generation of government will find it politically expedient to pay heed to environmental matters, because at the risk of sounding repetitive; It is care for our surroundings that must take precedence. Knee jerk reactions to more visible issues like poverty, disease, or even flood-
  10. 10. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 10 ing is commendable, but the sure fix, the silver bullet, is the sustainable alternative. Go- ing green will take care of many of societys self-inflicted ills - even global warming. It wouldnt hurt the new governments position either. ET Youth Forum Zoë C. Mason Environment Tobago In my role as Acting Education Officer I began to realise that in corresponding with the public realm with regards to ‘the children of tomorrow’ and making positive changes, we (society as a whole and ET) tend to bypass the teenage bracket: Too much focus is placed upon the primary-aged youth but not enough attention is paid to the positive and impressionable impact that the young adults can make on society. With the firm belief that it is the duty of ET is to branch our Environment Edu- cation programme out to encompass this bracket, and with the help from BOD Mr. Gervais Alkins, the Environment TOBAGO Youth Forum (ETYF) was formed. At present we have nine paid members and the numbers are rising – with po- tential of joining forces with the Charlotteville Youth Group. Our Aim for the ETYF is as follows: To provide the stage for young adults in Tobago to voice their environmental concerns; and also to provide assistance in implementing projects/ activities to promote positive changes What does it mean to be a member? All one has to do is to want to participate: become an ET member (we have a student discount joining fee) and then volunteer your passion. There is a whole variety of activities to get involved with also: MALL EVENT – team building and renewable energy promotion: - DECEMBER CHANNEL ALT BLOGGING – ET Youth Forum Blog spot & articles St Nicholas Primary Environment Club – Monday’s 3-4pm Assist with the re- organization of ET Library Community awareness drives (in conjunction with Red Cross) – Dates To be con- firmed (TBC) Article submission – anytime (Tobago News deadline is 10am every Monday) Beach Clean-ups School lectures Whilst we are still in our embryonic stage, and achievements are yet to be added to the repertoire, we do have passionate members on board and high hopes for the coming year. Most definitely watch this space! For anyone that is interested in joining, please contact me directly at Environ- ment TOBAGO.
  11. 11. Page 11 Environment TOBAGO newsletter ECOLOGY NOTES What is Biocomplexity? Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies According to the University of Indiana in the United States of America, bio- complexity can be defined as “the study of the emergence of self-organized, complex behaviours from the interaction of many simple agents”. But, simply put seeks to study the intricate relationships between the living and non-living components of ecosystems. However, since so many different types of components are involved, the reasonable solution is to find the how these components work from the different disciplines that study them. The interactions between living organisms and their environment is quite com- plex and involves such relationships as mutualism (where both organisms benefit), com- mensalism (where one organism benefit but the other is unharmed) and parasitism (where one organism benefits but the other dies or is damaged). Other interactions include parental care which does not occur in some species or for varying lengths of time in others. Competition is another interaction which can take place between or- ganisms of the same or different species, for resources such as, food, water, habitat and mates. Therefore, we see that organisms also interact with the non-living components of their environment as well. An example of living organisms dependence on non-living components would be the spot on a sandy beach where a leatherback turtle chooses to lay her eggs, not only will this prevent them from getting washed away when the tide comes in, but the temperature of the nest is important as it determines the sex of the offspring. Some characteristics of this type of study include that it is relevant to all organ- isms from single cell organisms to human beings. Ti also looks at all components as a whole and not individually. Biocomplexity also looks at non-linear behaviour, that is,“ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” behaviour that is chaotic in nature. It also looks at interactions that span multiple levels of time and space and finally, it can be applied to a wide range of habitats. Now more than ever, the study of biocomplexity is important especially as the stability of the planet’s ecosystems is uncertain and some are on the brink of extinction in some countries. Biocomplexity spiral. From Wikipedia.com
  12. 12. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 12 ARTICLES Gondolas not Ponds Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO No. No! Mr. Secretary, a gondola not a pond is the answer to the flooding. Its well known that to a carpenter, all problems are nails. It seems that Mr. Hilton Sandy suffers a bit of the same predilection and is looking now for the next available riverbed to dig up with his excavator. This revelation, in fact its my epiphany for this month, stood out from last weeks copy of the Tobago News when the Secre- tary for the Division of Natural Resources and the Environment made a little joke about putting ponds upstream of the Roxborough Housing Development. Now Im a fan of the guy as much as anyone is, but I can forward some reasons this may not be his brightest suggestion. In fact Ill go one further and even make a few suggestions of my own - since its silly season. However Ill ask that someone some- where to agree that its plain wrong to place houses in a floodplain. Assuming the heads are now nodding vigorously, Ill suggest we stop building, remove low lying coastal housing, and plant some sea-grape and mangrove where na- ture intended. It will be cheaper; in the cost of lives, and less of a burden to the hapless tax- payer. Now since I know nature intended almost thirty- three wetlands for this island, of which close to half are almost a memory, I grieve already for the rest, because the Mr. Sandys of this generation are not going to heed me, or anyone for that One method of transport to deal matter, who doesnt want a low-level house in a with the flooding flood-prone zone. I guess I would have taken that position too if I lived on a high promontory somewhere; like Bacolet Point. But seriously, how can we make the flood problems go away for Roxborough? We could dig the roads in La Renaisance so low that when it rains the streets could be safely inundated under a meter or two of water, and for that short time each day, of each year, of each wet season, we just use gondolas instead of our Nissan Almeras. The craft could come in handy too, when the odd fifty year flood or the ex- pected and predicted hurricane surge does hit. Maybe. Then again sturdy stilts for all coastal housing might be an answer, but I only got that from TV and it might not work here. The Secretary also mentioned something about bamboo blocking the streams flow, at least that was my understanding of the paragraph in Adamson Charless piece. It brought my focus toward the vast amounts of bamboo on all our beaches this week - the bulk of it was courtesy Hurricane Tomas, of course, but so too a lot of it looks like cutoffs that were left lying along the river beds by workers in the construction trade. Something ought to be done, and it might not be as simple as waging war on bamboo stools on a rivers edge. Gondola poles for La Renaissance? No silly, I mean get to know whos cutting trees and leaving the lopped of branches willy-nilly in their haste to de- part with the lumber. Bamboo crews are at work every day, cutting down stands of it
  13. 13. Page 13 Volume 5 Issue 4 for cement work shoring, get to know them. Maybe we might get around to using a new-fangled “ting”I saw on TV - Geographic Information Systems. But “wha dis GIS ting?” Imagine tracking the bulldozers now in Tobago to see if they are in fact working where the developers Certificate of Environmental Clearance holds good. So Im jumping on the construction industry again. Yet it’s the underlying cul- prit if looked at closely. While La Renaissance is the subject on which Im harping, the real expense to Tobago in life and property damage will be from landslides and not flooding of the plains. Adamson Charles article mentioned over 100 slides along the Windward Road, and thats from a single rainy (cloudless) day. Mr Sandy, maybe while we are dredging and removing our stools we could utilize some of that GIS technology I saw on TV. Seems we could predict where to leave the bamboo rafts and gondolas. Im serious. If the Roxborough Fire Crew had gotten their allocation of gondolas they could have rescued those washing machines. Firetrucks just don’t work well in flood. However forget the hi-tech thing. Lets work with Mr. Sandy and the DNRE. And lets work with Global Warming, Climate Change and Natural Disasters. One of these things is a threat to the people living in flood prone areas of Tobago - Wish I was sure which one. Integrating Ecological Issues Into Social-ecological Natural Resources Management William A. Trim Laumonier et al. (2008) synthesis is part of a special feature on whether new management paradigms are needed to achieve sustainable natural resources manage- ment (NRM) in tropical countries. Some lessons learnt are given and three challenges are identified. One of the challenges is the development of an enabler organization close to local communities. Two agencies in Tobago are presented here as examples. In Tobago (as well as Trinidad), each major development is required by law to formally plan. A land developer prepares a development plan for the site to be devel- oped and submits the plan to an enabling organization, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for approval. The plan is expected to include an environmental impact assessment (EIA) along with mitigating measures and a social impact assessment (SIA) based on a terms of reference (TOR). Each development proposal is expected to have scientific evaluation on potentially affected endemic species of flora and fauna, state environmental setbacks and provide social data such as human demographics. Next, a developer submits the proposal to the EMA for approval. After scru- tiny and deliberations, the EMA then sends the document for public comment by mail to government agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the place- ment of the proposed development document at libraries and other public offices. The proposal is also placed in several daily newspapers and aired on television and radio stations to obtain stakeholders’ comments. Usually, the responders are mainly mem- bers of a community that may be affected. Agriculture and forestry extension officers, NGOs, researchers, environmentalists, health officers, land-use planners and the public may criticize or commend the proposed development before EMA’s approval or disap- proval. An approved proposed development must be monitored during the implemen- tation of the planned project. At this juncture, the second enabler organization, Envi- ronment Tobago (ET) plays an important role in socio-ecological matters. ET and other NGOs, staff members of government agencies, and the public can monitor and
  14. 14. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 14 inform the EMA about any environmental or social disruptions during the project implementation. For example, Coco Reef Hotel developers were required by the EMA to revisit and make adjustment to a project for mitigation against social and environmental problems. If the EMA objects to a development, the land developer can then seek re- dress through the office of the appropriate Minister of Parliament (MP). In some instances, MPs would have overturned some EMA’s objections and allowed pro- jects, for example, the Hilton Hotel construction on a wetland. During the last four years, a new precedent has emerged. Members of an affected local community through a local spoke person and a local NGO have been seeking the help of international NGOs and powerful international institutions, for example, The World Bank to overturn MPs permission when stakeholders object to destructive developments. An example of this is the case of Pigeon Point Beach front expansion and the debarring of locals’ free entrance to this beach. Recently, our parliament passed a Bill allowing our citizens freedom of ac- cess to public information and an amendment to the EMA Act requiring all major developers to provide details on the flora and fauna of the area to be developed. There are legislative plans to have more researchers make public, their researches, and to set up an agency other than the court, to deal with some stakeholders’ con- flicts. CONCLUSIONS In Tobago’s case, the enabler organizations EMA and ET played useful roles for change in NRM but there were more players and factors that influenced such change. REFERENCE Laumonier, Y., Bourgeois, R., and Pfund, J-L. 2008. Accounting for the ecological dimension in participatory research and development: lessons learned from Indone- sia and Madagascar. Ecology and Society 13 (1):15. [Online] URL: http:// www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol13/iss1/art15 / Tobago groundwater or desalinization? Bertrand Bhikkary Environment TOBAGO The Water and Sewerage Authority owns all the rain-derived water in To-bago, whether it occurs on state lands or on privately held parcels. Passing strangehowever is that WASA has found it expedient to seek a contractor to win fresh wa-ter from the sea. They will do this at the Cove Industrial Estate sometime soon. Nodoubt it will be a costly exercise, one which the coming generation may not be ableto carry indefinitely. WASAs management, in commissioning the desalination unit, takes the posi-tion that the recent drought brought into focus the tenuous nature of our water sup-ply. They cite the dramatic role played by the Point Lisas based Desalcott in meetingthe sister islands needs over the last extended dry season. A good argument, but itholds no water for the Tobago situation. The Tobago Main Ridge watershed feeds huge proven reserves of ground wa-
  15. 15. Page 15 Volume 5 Issue 4 ter that can be accessed via wells and pumps. Wells drawing off that source have the ability to replenish themselves through a process of natural recharge even if WASA takes up to 66 million cubic meters per year. In perspective, the figure represents possibly close to a hun- dred times more than what the utility cur- rently produces. Some figures may be shown by WASA, exam- Distribution of Earth’s Water ples may be drawn that the water shortage of the last few months was a reality. The alterna- tive view of course is that a shortage occurred because water was drawn from shallow open reservoirs dependent on rain and runoff, instead of from deep wells properly placed along the Tobago mega watershed. The logic is simple. Necessity dictates that the Utility expands its product out- put. If water exists underground and proven technologies can access whats needed, then why leave all that to embark on the expensive path taken by countries who had no soft option? The reason for doing so may well lie in the age- old truism that bigger (more expensive) projects win more support by all concerned in the process. So whats a mega watershed anyway, and why does Tobago have one? The fea- ture is actually many basins comprised of fractured bedrock aquifers and aquifer sys- tems that has extensive rainfall catchment ability. The definition is credited to Messrs. Bisson, Widger, Hofman, Long and El-Baz who discovered and reported on it from the African Rift around 1980. Mr. Bisson was later responsible for proving the existence of this feature here in Tobago. The idea that Tobago could have all the water it needs, but its yet to be com- mercially tapped is mind-boggling. Robert Bisson, during the course of his explorative work under a WASA sanctioned arrangement (Earthwater Technology International Inc. 1999-2000), used an innovative combination of technologies for that period. Working together with Trinidadian Mr. Utam Maharaj, the team tracked the complex fault lines of Tobago using an eclectic mix of satellite imagery, aerial magnetic surveys, 3D imagery, flexible computer models, and geophysical surveys.; In effect they were depending on the same techniques oil and gas exploration teams used to track down elusive fuel fields, and it worked. They were able to locate poten- tial water-bearing formations in new areas. In the year 2000 it was not the typical ap- proach taken by the average WASA contractor looking for well water. It is now a decade since that pilot project was done, but at the risk of repeti- tion, the Water Authority will pursue the desalination option. The cost of winning po- table water by that expedient leaves many things to be desired. The shortlist is; the prohibitive cost of fuel for running a desal plant, the potential for damage to the envi- ronment by the dumping of solids extracted from the seawater, and the real possibility of the plant facing lengthy shut-downs due to adverse weather events. There are other considerations that the mega watershed can attend. Water for agriculture will not emanate from a desalination unit, as its too sterile, too costly. In- deed with that in mind the average user may take up the harvesting of rainwater just to be able to wash a vehicle or flush a toilet. In Tobago WASA may want to do the same and focus exclusively on something they already own, but have not used well - the mega watershed.
  16. 16. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 16 Heartbreaking news: It’s Christmas, It’s Christmas! Bertrand Bhikkary Environment TOBAGO I was at the Petit Trou beach just before Lambeau on a Saturday before Christ-mas. Found time to play with a discarded lonely little mutt who was still at puppy stage.You know the period. He still trusts humans, since not enough of us have yet foundhim despicable enough to pelt rocks at, or to poison. The little sufferer had on themost beautiful nylon collar. The type that never deteriorates, the kind thats certain tochoke him to death should he make it past cute. However I will not bother to com-ment on the abandoned dogs unpromising outlook - since its Christmas, and no curwas in that manger back then in Bethlehem. Not too long before, my little group of peers were seriously into planning TheParty, it being Christmas and all. One cheerful Christian soul caught up in the moment,offered to cater wild meat dishes for an event already potentially overloaded with flesh.My throat tightened around emerging criticism as I realized with the wisdom of age(and many a Christmas past) that this is what will occur all over my beloved land thisseason. I let it slip with a silent prayer that God might give gouti wings. He might notthough, considering that there was no agouti or other wildlife in that manger long timeago in Bethlehem. This week, in what must surely be a sign from heaven, an email was delivered to my Inbox by the trusted god of the Internet. It had al- ready survived the rigors of spam selection and my own less charitable filter keywords (trash all mails with donate). This was an initiative by a group of discount house shoppers (brands withheld) who would donate hampers to the needy families of Trinidad and Tobago. Could I send a list of names, limited to four from Tobago? I do know of a few destitute families aside from mine, but I cannot say I do Know them - Who wants to know the poor, except on Christmas? So Im stuck with making a decision to send names andStray dog at Petit Trou needs of people I barely acknowledge, who to my mind may (or may not) want things. The criteria Im to followindicates the qualified recipients must not only be poor, but also must be enterprisingtypes, not slothful. Really! If the poor souls are beaten to the point of despair, no bas-ket for dey? I guess charity was not present in the manger at Bethlehem either, onlykings bent on paying homage to one of their kind. At the end of the season, when the time comes to pack away my Christmastree, I will cash in all the gift vouchers enlightened (and guilt-ridden ) readers wouldhave sent me. I think Ill buy a posh widescreen TV so I can lie back and participate inthe social fabric. After all Christmas is past and I can afford to be a little selfish for awhile. Ill deserve it after all that guana, gouti and charity________________________________________________________________[ At Christmas, Bertrand Bhikarry intends to exercise his dominion over all livingthings. The Bible told him he can totally eat out this world. Paradise after all, is in an-other place.]
  17. 17. Page 17 Volume 5 Issue 4 Spiders and St. Lucia Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies For two weeks in August I was most fortunate to visit the island of St. Lucia to conduct a survey of the spider fauna of the island. Located in the southern Lee- ward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean (13o53’N 60o58’W) between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago. St. Lucia has an area of 616 km2 and 43.5 km long and its widest part is 22.5 km across. It is volcanic in origin with a central point and the highest elevation on the island of approximately over 950 m. I stayed in the town of Soufriere which was recognised in 1746 as the first town of St. Lucia. It also served as the first capital city of the island until around 1803, when Castries was appointed the new capital. To many people, Soufriere may not be a “happening” place, compared to the bustling towns of Castries and Rodney Bay on the North, but to a naturalist this part of the island is paradise, as a majority of the forests could be accessed on the South and up along the East coast. Soufriere is also home to the Pitons, Grand Pi- ton and Petit Piton which have been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. Both of these mountains are steep and are quite demanding to climb to the top, however, Petit Piton is steeper than Grand Piton. Although St. Lucia is known for the Pitons, Mount Gimie (pronounced Mount Jimmy) is the highest point on the island reaching a height of 950m. Actually, the Pitons are volcanic plugs where over the years, the more brittle rock has fallen away leav- ing the hard magma plug in the centre. Being the home to an active volcano, St. Lucia has sulphur springs known for its cleansing and healing properties? So it is popular for with per- sons seeking a perfect complexion. As a results of the intense heat and sulphur, the hillside fac- The Pitons with Soufriere in the ing the springs only have short vegetation while forground the rest of the hills are covered in lush green forests. This gives one an idea of how extreme the conditions are near the volcano. Most of the North has been taken over by urbanisation and farming. Un- fortunately this has resulted in the reduction of some natural habitats, like herba- ceous swamps and mangrove woodlands which form important barriers protecting the coastline from storms and hurricanes. I also visited one of the remaining sites of mangrove in the district of Vieux Fort in the South of the island. This mangrove woodland spans approximately 100 acres. At the beginning of the last century, man- grove was used to fuel sugar factories in both St. Lucia and Barbados, but now it is used primarily to make charcoal for cooking. It may not sound like it is good for the environment, but the Aupicon Charcoal Producers Group has made it their goal to show that mangrove can be used in a sustainable way for this purpose. St. Lucia depends heavily on tourism so unfortunately to visit many natural attractions one has to pay an admission fee, such as waterfalls. In Trinidad and To-
  18. 18. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 18 bago we are lucky that we can enjoy such natural wonders free of charge. Cocoa as a crop is also trying to make a comeback on the island, and there are a few estates where you can see how cocoa is processed, for instance, at the Fond Doux Estate. However, again you have to pay an admission fee. Despite this, I found many examples of people being environmentally conscious, for in- stance, during my sampling of farmland habitat, I Pit for making charcoal was treated to some coconut water, and after- wards my host insisted on bursting the shells into quarters to prevent them from collecting water and acting as a breeding site for mosquitoes. Even the use of wildlife for tourism is closely monitored. During my visit, I met a fellow who keeps a boa constrictor as a pet. He is usually found at the side of the road between Soufriere and Castries. Here tour- ists usually stop and take out photos holding the snake. I also visited Pigeon Island, located on the north-western part of the island. It got its name as it was once a tiny offshore island but the space between it and the main island of St. Lucia has since been filled in and it is now how to the St. Lucia National Trust. In the past, Pigeon Island was a site for whaling when humpbacks would pass by “I found many ex- on their southern migration to mate in the warmer waters of the Southern Hemi- amples of people sphere. This ended in 1926 after legislation was passed banning the practise. being environmen- The sampling effort for my project produced a total of 40 species from 22 families, tally conscious“ none of which posed any threats to human health. Overall, natural habitats yielded more species than disturbed habitats this may be due to the fact that most of the lo- calities of natural habitats sampled are not heavily populated or cultivated, therefore the conditions in these ecosystems can be considered close to pristine. This could ac- count for their relatively high level of species richness and diversity. Near the end of my visit I also gave a presentation to the Forestry Department on the biodiversity of West Indian spiders focusing on the spider fauna of St. Lucia where I gave preliminary results from my survey. This presentation was also attended by the media which interviewed me and allowed me to explain the importance of spi- ders in to ecosystems and humans. This interview was shown on the two local televi- sion channels. I also left a small synoptic collection of the common species found on the island with the Forestry Department. Acknowledgments This project was partially funded by a grant from the British Arachnological Society and a Percy Sladen Memorial Fund Grant from The Linnean Society of London. Thanks go out to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry Department in St. Lucia for all of their assistance. The following persons and organisations assisted in facilita- tion, transport, and assistance in the field; Alwin Dornelly, Anthony Donald, Nereus Mitchell, Julius Georges, Carl Augustine, George Antoine, Peter Jn. Baptiste, Onellmus Charleroy, Greg Pereira, Veronica Simon, Sally Erdle, John Kessell.
  19. 19. Page 19 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Noise pollution rules Bertrand Bhikkary Environment TOBAGO So what if the discordant boom of soca and rap music disturbs me to the point of distraction every weekend. Its pain for the support of culture, Right? Hardly. After spending a few hours more than Id like without sleep, I figured out all the noise is just someone in the chase of money. The problem with that, it is at my expense; loss of sleep not contributing to my quality of life. I understand in the old days the neighbor with a radio or a gramophone would turn up the volume for all within earshot, but I think those days are now gone. Or have they? To my mind the idea to make someone else suffer my taste in music is an aggres- sive act ranking right up there with shouting in their faces - minus the halitosis. Then again I might just be living in a place where my neighbor thinks I dont have my own entertainment system.“[Bertrand Bhi- Ive heard some talk that the law protects me from loud noises, especially afterkarry traces roots 10 at night, but I think that’s unlikely, given my protectors from the EMA stop work atto a mountain 4pm, and the police who are on the noisy compounds are actually in the pay of the or-domiciled hermit ganizers - ostensibly to protect law and order, but more so to prevent acts of malicetaking aural against the noisemaker/entrepreneur. What a mess. Noise pollution does indeed rule.stimulation from Before despair sets in, and bands of silent (operative word) black-clad hit menthe cacophony of begin to attend the public functions with a sole purpose of taking out sound systems,the plain dwellers. somethings got to be done. I mean, how much of those things are there? There mustThese days no be growing band of support for a quieter Tobago, considering the number of eventscomplementary and holidays this serene little chunk of rock hosts year round. The thing is, do the de-title exists for that tractors in turn make noise about noisemaking?type of macco- Things are so bad here that the churches make the same amount of noise asman.] “ the fetes, or are they same thing? Make a joyful noise indeed. The village harvests are no longer sacred events venerating bounty from fields blessed by The Almighty. Instead to my eyes the community church is where the masses depart in droves to seek spiri- tous fortitude and a weekend of noisy distraction. Every month of every year mind you. The sticking point to making this an issue is getting people involved. Obviously nobody wants to be The One to raise their voice in protest against what is the cultural norm. But there may be friends in other places. For instance do the literacy groups have an opinion of the impacts of noise on the population? The myriad events spread over Tobago must surely impact some school children. Even the few adults bent on self improvement via books and similar devices must cherish a quiet environment. Another stakeholder with potential for recruitment on the march to silence the boom- boxes are the anti-crime groups. Any culture which denies an enabling environment to aspiring youth is actually nurturing young criminals. Just words, but consider the follow- ing lines I heard earlier tonight; " Id do it if I have to bustin caps with this a heat and load it clip up after clip Im packin my gauge, if I feel it The glock, the gat, the nine, the heaters See I be bustin caps like my amp be bustin speakers " Thats the sort of double barreled lyrics which keep me up and angry. I fear for now its just the sounds which invade my home. Soon it might be followed by a tone deaf young thug in search of funds to buy himself some caps. My point is people, lets keep it quiet. Quiet is good, quiet is nice. Quiet is what I need to make me stop writing foolishness like this.
  20. 20. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 20 I LOOKED OVER JORDAN, AND WHAT DID I SEE? Victor Howells 1957. A Naturalist in Palestine. New York: Philosophical Library 180 pp. [Twenty-second in a series on "naturalist-in" books.] Christopher K. Starr Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies ckstarr@gmail.com Naturalist-in books are a peculiar type with fuzzy boundaries at the interface between four dimensions: place (including the native people), biota, personal experience, and events (often adventures). Any account that focuses so strongly on one of these as to relegate the others to a supporting role places itself outside the naturalist-in genre. This probably explains in large part why naturalist-in books are almost entirely the prod- uct of English speakers, as such a balancing act grows out of a particular tradition. This is illustrated by two books in other languages. The title of Paulians (1949) book plainly suggests that it is naturalist-in, yet it is about the biota only. And Guenthers (1931) book is similarly one-dimensional (not, in itself, a criticism). The original title, Das Antlitz Brasiliens, simply means The Face of Brazil, and the english title was evidently adapted to fit the naturalist-in niche market. Alcocks book, contrast, sits nicely in the middle of what is naturalist-in. “The expression The expression "the seven seas" is baffling to many. We are taught in school to "the seven seas" is recognize just four oceans, and you probably know at least a dozen bodies of water baffling to many. called seas, so what are these seven seas? The term has been used in several senses, but the most usual refers to regions of the Indian Ocean, each with its own distinctive char- We are taught in acter. This was where real seafaring first began, in a complex, changeable ocean whose school to recog- trickiness revolves around the monsoons. Here, survival depends upon a superior nize just four knowledge of space, time and weather. The Mediterranean, by comparison, is a placid oceans, and you puddle. probably know at All of this is implicit in A Naturalist in Indian Seas. Alfred Alcock (1859-1933) least a dozen bod- spent four years on board the british survey ship Investigator in the Indian Ocean. His ies of water called book deals with three of the traditional seven seas: the Andaman Sea, Bay of Bengal and seas, so what are part of the Arabian Sea. It was composed during two monsoons, while the ship was in these seven seas? harbour and he was engaged in analysing specimens. “ The Marine Survey of India was established in 1874, and its early findings opened a new world to the public imagination. The Investigator, launched in 1881, continued earlier studies in the coastal zone. Part of this was in fringing reefs and atolls, but many sites were less alluring. Alcock says of one particular part of India that it is "not to be commended for its scenery, which consists chiefly of slimy creeks and screw-pine swamps alternating with long stretches of drifting sand washed by a muddy sea." At the same time, the Investigator initiated the first serious focus on the depths of the Indian Ocean. This is the core of the book, occupying about one-third of the chapters. The ocean depths are a zone of constant darkness, cold and great pressure. In strong contrast to the surface zone, it is very stable, with little water movement or tem- perature change. In Alcocks time, before the era of deep diving, our scant knowledge of abyssal creatures was based on dredging the sea floor (benthos). This is a laborious busi- ness, and he spent a great deal of time sorting and processing specimens. Because the grab is made virtually blind, many samples are mainly just mud. Even so, the time spent at sea was very productive, as Alcock had little to do except collect and process samples according to a fixed routine. This gave rise to a wealth of newly-described species. They
  21. 21. Page 21 Environment TOBAGO newsletter were surpassingly strange and plainly came from an alien world, but by the time they reached the surface they were already dead or dying. Until the age of deep diving some decades later, we knew nothing of how they lived. Aside from his main work, Alcock made many direct observations of living ani- mals at the surface and in coastal areas from the deck of the ship and during many short visits on shore. He presents these in a number of engaging vignettes of particular ani- mals. He showed much less interest in plant life. I very much regret that there is only passing mention of my beloved mudskipper fishes (Periophthalmus spp.), which I think he must have encountered often. Although he did not say so directly, Alcock interpreted his observations accord- ing to the theory of evolution by natural selection. This is worth noting, as he wrote at time when natural selection was still controversial, not nearly the accepted mechanism that it is today. Coupled with this, he showed an interest in large biological questions, such as warning colouration in animals, the mating patterns of birds, and bioluminescence in benthic animals. Another attractive feature is his attention to particular open questions. As an example, there is a small, shallow lake on Little Coco Island. It is only slightly brackish and appears to have formed when a mangrove swamp became cut off from the sea. Be- cause it is the only body of fresh water on the islet, and because it is evidently quite young, it furnishes "a perfectly clear sheet on which to record the manner of colonisation of a freshwater territory newly won from the sea." Thats good thinking. The authors attitude toward the local people -- after all, he was an Englishman -- was distinctly colonialist. He regarded them much as one would peculiar and occasion- ally wayward children, benignly but in no way to be considered as equals. This is not to say that he took no notice of the locals. On the contrary, Alcock showed much interest in their customs and economy. Still, he rarely mentions any Indian by name, while many of the Englishmen in the book have names. If one reads enough of the old naturalist-in books, one gets used to this sort of thing. References Konrad Guenther 1931. A Naturalist in Brazil. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin 399 pp. Renaud Paulian 1949. Un Naturaliste en Côte dIvoire. 3rd ed. Paris: Stock, Delamain & Boutelleau 216 pp. Community Announcements "The UTC Tobago CSC is in your neighborhood Call us now to share with your group a Seminar on Financial Planning" Manager: Florence Forbes Contact : 635 2115 Ext. 6201 Business Development Officer : Desiree Hackett Murray Contact : 635 2115 Ext 6239; 688 3862
  22. 22. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 22 WHAT’S HAPPENING @ ET ET is now on Facebook and Twitter Environment TOBAGO Environmental and Services Map of Tobago We invite everyone on Facebook to join. Here we will post upcoming events, links, photos and videos on ET matters and They are excellent and will be published every two years. other environmental issues. Published in January 2008. Requests for these maps can be made to ET office. ET group link: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/ group.php?gid=53362888661&ref=ts And keep up to date on what we are up to by following us Volunteers needed! Persons who are interested in helping with cataloguing and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/environ_tobago filing of ET’s educational, research and operational material and archiving. New Members With a membership of 408 worldwide, ET welcomes the following members: David King Kadeem Thomas Top ‘O’ Tobago Guesthouse Products featuring artwork from Rainforest Education & Awareness Programme Drawstring bags-TT$130 Tote bags-TT$120 Burlap bags -TT$120 TT$15 per card Postcards or TT$100 for a pack of ten

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