Buoys to be installed to monitor Tobago's reefs

By Patrice Samuel

TOBAGO is to be part of a new international coral reef early warning system, designed to monitor the health of the island's coral.

A specially manufactured buoy will be installed at Buccoo Reef, which is in the southwest of the Island. Another buoy will be put in east Tobago at Speyside on Friday.

The buoys will record climate change, coral bleaching, and changes in the reefs. They will also identify any damage done to the coral and monitor marine activities in the two locations.

All the data gathered will be transmitted to a central location at the Buccoo Training Centre. This data will then be sent throughout the Caribbean and internationally.

The project is in keeping with work being done by the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) and the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment.

Coral reefs in Tobago have already suffered from the effects of mass bleaching, where corals expel their symbiotic algae and instead appear pale or white. It is primarily caused by a rise in sea temperature.

A report by Jahson Alemu of the IMA states that in 2005 and 2010 mass bleaching took place on the island. Speyside had the highest recorded level of incidences. This is similar to occurences in other Caribbean countries.

Buccoo Reef is a popular tourism destination on the island, with thousands of people every year taking a glass bottom boat to see the reef and the creatures which live on it.

The Divsion, in collaboration with the IMA, will be informing the communities of Speyside and Buccoo about the project this Friday and Saturday.

Workshops will also be held at the Buccoo Community Centre on November 21 and at the Speyside Community Centre on November 22 to which non-governmental organisations and other interest groups are invited to attend to learn more about the warning system.

The Divsion's Secretary, Godwin Adams, said, “This in a sense is an internationally operated system to check on reefs around the world. It is a very important piece of equipment that will give us an account of what is happening in our waters around the island at an early time to enable us to take the appropriate action.”

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A. Dent said on Thursday, Nov 14 at 4:52 PM

@Mike - The buoys are only there to monitor and observe - and does not do anything with the reefs,... Some changes are due to general health of the ocean, but still a lot of the problems in Buccoo come from sewage, garbage, people still walking on the shallow reef parts, using knifes to cut in corals, and also suffers from oils spill from leaky engines in boats,.. etc... Nothing will really change until People change - and until we learn how to take care of human waste. A Very good initiative with the monitoring though - it is needed to map the health of the reef - but it won't change anything - until WE are ready to change...

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