Tobago’s coral reefs in danger
This week in Guardian Media environmental space, writer and blogger PAT GANASE tells us about two young scientists, one of whom, a Trinidadian student who are doing important research in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
If you could live on an island small enough for you to walk around in a couple hours, what would you need to give your life purpose?
Two young scientists have seized the opportunity to do research on a coral island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
They join a growing band of colleagues who are not only interested in the animals and systems that build coral reefs in tropical waters, but who are investigating more deeply to build on previous work and adding their research to increase the body of knowledge about coral systems. Scientists in symbiotic relationships!
Amanda Ford is a student from England attending the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Anjani Ganase, from Trinidad and Tobago, did her first degree in marine biology at the Florida Institute of Technology, and then chose the University of Amsterdam for a master’s.
They met at the Carmabi Institute in Curacao where they were working on individual research projects.
On Heron Island at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, they are a buddy group. Eligibility included coming with another student, but each continues to follow her own research path.
Ford is observing the combined effects of ocean acidification (more CO2) and rising temperatures on one species of coral, and whether there are differences in the ability to adapt within the one species.
Ganase has been collecting “coral babies” to see whether coral larvae from different locations actively choose where they settle based on cues found at different depths. She’s also figuring out whether extreme temperatures can affect traits such as active sediment rejection mechanisms in certain coral species, piggybacking on the work of their supervisor who also lives on the island.
Dr Pim Bongaerts of the University of Queensland already has some impressive findings published. Use this link to find an article on Dr Bongaerts’ work online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/16843053.
Since March this year, Ford and Ganase are adapting to a new environment.
They walk or swim everywhere. The resort on the other side of the island, five minutes walk away, is in a time zone an hour earlier. Fresh water is precious, mainly desalinated sea water for everything, and potable water ferried in.
Food must be ordered in bulk one or two weeks’ supply at a time. It is delivered to the small island by boat from the “mainland.” And entertainment? They are fortunate in having computers and wifi.
This is indeed the best age for exploration! For the past ten weeks, they have quickly slipped into a different routine.
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