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Nature returns tranquility to Grande Riviere
It may be hard for someone to perceive that less than one year ago, residents of Grande Riviere were thrown into chaos as both nature and man wreaked havoc on the small fishing community. Nestled in Trinidad’s north coast between Toco and Matelot, the village is home to one of T&T’s biggest eco-tourism draws, the Dermochelys Coriacea (Leatherback Sea turtle).
In a quest to repair massive erosion caused by a meandering river last year using heavy backhoes, during the height of the turtle nesting season April to July, hundreds of hatchlings were killed. The killing of the endangered species through Government intervention echoed throughout the world.
In July last year, the T&T Guardian ran a full-length feature on the threat posed to hotelier Piero Guerrini’s Mt Plaisir Estate Hotel by the erosion but last year’s picture was vastly different from the idyllic scene witnessed by the T&T Guardian who visited Grand Riviere on Friday.
Although shell casings from last year’s tragedy were still seen on the beach, there was a beautiful calm to it. It was like any other trip to Maracas or a some other picturesque T&T beach. Adorned with the brilliance of a Caribbean sunshine, the scene was one reserved for postcards sent to relatives and friends abroad highlighting the perfect Caribbean life.
The stagnant pond located directly behind Guerrini’s hotel has since left as well as any division between sand, sea and property. To Guerrini and others a natural balance has been restored to Grande Riviere and without the intervention of Government so urgently pleaded for before. On Monday, through intense waves which lasted only hours, the beach redeposited sand lost from erosion.
In a telephone interview with T&T Guardian yesterday Guerrini said the restoration of the beach was nothing short of a miracle. He said, “It is a miracle. A testament to the power of nature.” Guerrini said while he was not at his establishment during the intense wave action, when he returned by 2 pm last Monday, he found the stagnant pond behind his hotel gone and the beach looking like it had not been eroded.
He said initially after a stakeholder meeting held with Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz and Minister of State in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Ramona Ramdial in September last year, he expected the ministers to hold true to their words and intervene and fill the chasm with material from the beach by October’s end last year.
Guerrini said after nothing was done in October he expected after his return from the World Travel Market (an annual global travel industry event held in the United Kingdom—the event was held on November 5-8 last year in London), that the chasm would have been filled but it was not. Guerrini said by Christmas there was still no word of an intervention. “The officials kept saying every week they would intervene.”
Eventually Guerrini sent a text message on January 2 this year, asking an official what was happening. He said he received a response which said that the Ministry of the Environment said not to intervene since it expected major wave action which would redeposit the sand by mid-January. Initially Guerrini was skeptical of this but on Monday, he said, he was happy to see that everything had returned to normal.
Even surfers were aware of the major wave action scheduled to occur, he said.
“Don’t interfere with nature—it knows the best way to rearrange itself,” Guerrini said as he admitted that he was glad that there was no need for Government/man-made intervention. When asked if he expected to see erosion of that kind again in Grande Riviere any time soon, Guerrini said no, since he was told by villagers that the erosion is a process which occurs every 15 to 20 years when the two rivers touch.
And it appears that nature has rearranged itself at the right time since turtle sightings are scheduled to begin from March. Guerrini assured that there is no need to fear for the endangered species since protection from light, noise and other dangers to the turtle have improved year after year. Villagers given the task of protecting the turtle, he said, have been doing a good job. He also noted that on-shore the turtles are fully protected.
Yet Guerrini said he saw many positive outcomes from last year’s problems, chief among the positives is the closing of the chasm between the two groups charged with protecting the turtles. Both groups, he said, are now working harmoniously together.
During T&T Guardian’s visit on Friday two representatives of the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) were conducting assessments in the river. When asked what they were doing the official said they were using GPS devices (rod-like equipment with attached keypads) to “track the typography of the space.” The official refused to give further comment since, he said, they were not allowed to speak with media.
Attempts to get further information from the IMA yesterday proved futile since offices were closed.
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