About 300 million years ago, early land animals had
split into two major groups - Amphibians, which lay
eggs in water and breathe partly through moist skin
surfaces and Reptiles, which do not need to live near
water, have waterproof skin and lay their eggs on land.
Most large Marine Reptiles became extinct about 65 million
years ago, leaving just Turtles and Crocodiles still
with Fish, these groups, known as "Lower Vertebrates"
illustrate life's transition over hundreds of millions
of years, from a watery existence to a life on land.
Many strange deep-sea creatures exist that are unlike
anything found nearer the surface, while the World's
largest Lizard, the Komodo dragon's bite is so deadly,
that its prey dies of blood poisoning.
are as many Fish species alive today as all the Birds,
Reptiles, Amphibians and Mammals put together.
along the beach looking for seashells is enjoyed by
millions of people worldwide and is certainly part
of the holiday experience. While on vacation many
people pick up a seashell or two as they make nice
belong to the kingdom Mollusca. Most Mollusca are
soft fleshy slug like creatures having a hard external
skeleton type structure to help protect them. Mollusca
are found in both salt and fresh water as well as
on the land (snails). In the oceans, this structure
is known as a seashell; from seashells to sand dollars
to starfish and more.
good cleaning is all that’s needed to destroy any
odors seashells might have; soak in a 50-50 solution
of bleach and water. If you want to give your seashells
lustre you can wipe them with mineral or baby oil.
Make sure to wear protective eyewear when cleaning
the French Caribbean islands this little shell (top
left) is known as ‘Caribbean money’. This follows
the African tradition of using cowrie shells as special-purpose
currency which was still in use until the end of the
the African tradition, cowries were also used as decoration
on drums, clothing, jewellery,masks and head dresses
as well as special-purpose
currency as payments of fines, bride- wealth, funerals
Tobago’s master drummers follow this tradition
and often decorate their personal instrument and clothing
with cowrie shells.
FOR BIRD WATCHERS
Cuffie River Nature
On the edge of Tobago's Rain forest, surrounded by ancient
trees, bamboo groves and lush vegetation, the Nature
Retreat and Eco-Lodge lies gently cradled in the Runnemede
Valley - a secluded yet modern facility set against
a backdrop of hills. It's encircled by cool fresh-water
springs and pools - a veritable oasis of calm and serenity
set in an ocean of greenery, perfect for naturalists
and bird lovers. According to a recent bird census,
the place offers the ultimate in bird watching with
its 98 species; Tanagers and Bananaquits were feeding
on a table of fruit just feet away, while a couple of
stunning Mot-Mots looked on in their quiet unconcerned
way. Walking in through the trails, we encountered no
end of Fly Catchers, elusive Manakins, Humming Birds,
Woodpeckers and Tree Creepers that followed us up the
path - truly a bird watchers paradise.
Celebrating a wedding, anniversary or honeymoon? The
retreat offers several Togetherness Packages and there
is a special if you have attained your Golden Anniversary.
However, you don't have to be a resident of the Lodge
to savour its delights. Enjoy a 3-hour stroll or hit
the trails for a full days hike, or just come and have
an excellent lunch in the company of nature's bounteous
Go on, spoil yourself ………for the rest of your life!!
868 - 660 0505 Fax 868 - 660 0606
E-mail - email@example.com
easily identified by his blue background colour
and his 5 vertical black stripes.
You're likely to find him loitering around a purple-green
spot in a flattish area of the reef. The spot he's
guarding is his eggs - thousands of them, which
his lady has deposited in the sand, having encouraged
her to do so with his courtship dance and which
he subsequently fertilized. He then chases her away,
as his maternal instincts take over and he begins
to guard his spawn for a week or so until they're
hatched and leave home.
The cycle begins all over again as the dad with
the mother complex begins clearing his nest site
in preparation for his next set of youngsters.
Look out for him on your snorkeling expeditions.
FLIPPER THE DOLPHIN
hunting is not the norm in T&T. In fact, they are
considered 'protected animals' under the Conservation
of Wildlife Act, which states that…"no person shall
hunt or shall be a party engaged in hunting any protected
Catching, killing or eating or being in possession
of whale and dolphin parts is illegal in T&T.
Dolphins are mammals; they are not FISH. They have
red meat and live relatively long lives having on
average a 20 year life span. An adult female does
not reproduce until she is between 10-13 years old
and the male is 12-14 years old before being capable
of reproduction. They have one baby every few years
and they spend a lot of time and energy bringing up
their babies. For the first year, the babies feed
only on their mother's milk and they are nursed for
'Auntie' dolphins, either male or female may assist
with the birth at calving time and are generally the
only other dolphins allowed near the calf. When a
new baby dolphin is born it immediately heads for
the surface of the water for its first breath. The
average calf is a little over 3 ft. (1 metre) at birth
and can grow to just under 3 metres or 9 ft long.
A mother dolphin may whistle to her calf almost continuously
for several days after giving birth, in order to help
the calf later on to locate its mother by this method
of acoustic imprinting.
Thought to be one of the most intelligent and beautiful
creatures in our oceans, these warm blooded mammals
belong to the group of Cetaceans which also encompass
all whales and are some of the most highly intelligent
creatures on earth. We see them jumping, playing and
even hear them laughing as they have fun in the seas.
There are tales of dolphins offering aid to sailors
swept overboard or injured swimmers and surfers.
There are 67 total species of dolphins, with 32 of
them being oceanic. River dolphins and porpoises are
among whales which make up the other species. Porpoises
are often confused with dolphins which have rounded
interlocking teeth; porpoise teeth are square. Bottlenose
and Spotted dolphins are the varieties most common
in these waters. They live in groups (pods), adult
males rarely associating with teenage males (familiar
Their predators are generally various types of sharks,
whales and disease such as bacteria and parasites.
Pollution in coastal areas is also responsible for
the deaths of large numbers of these complex and amazing
Tours invariably offer a chance to enjoy the dolphins
frolicking in the wake of the boat.
Take a trip and perhaps you will be lucky enough to
experience them at play.
Tobago is a proactive advocacy group that campaigns
against negative environmental activities throughout
TOURISM - A GOOD IDEA
Tobago's Fish Stocks
Tobago becomes increasingly popular as a great place
to enjoy the pleasures of a Caribbean holiday, concerns
regarding sustainable tourism become more important
to all those involved in tourism - the world's fastest
Fittingly, a trio of industry stakeholders has produced
a useful seafood sustainability chart for the island's
restaurants and their patrons, that's you, as the
Caribbean is no exception to fish numbers being under
pressure throughout the world's seas.
The Travel Foundation, Virgin Holidays and the Buccoo
Reef Trust have jointly produced an enlightening poster
sized tic-map, charting stocks of the most popular
sea foods; this in order to assist restaurant owners
and their patrons make informed choices when buying
stock or ordering meals.
The guide identifies three species that are currently
'at risk' - Groupers, Snapper and Queen Conchs. More
than likely, you won't find any of them on the menu
of the island's main sea food restaurants.
Flying Fish, according to the guide, is at present
one of the better choices for consumption due to its
early reproductive maturity and prolific spawning
rate. Tuna, King Fish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, (local dolphin
fish, not to be confused with 'Flipper' the mammal)
Shrimp and Lobster all receive moderate ratings i.e.
some concerns due to declining stocks and over harvesting.
assured however that Tobago's restauranteurs are
committed to the idea of sustainability and by all
continue to enjoy the
gastronomic pleasures of your
favourite sea food restaurants.
theory is around that the migration of birds from
the Northern regions to Central & South America has
to do with returning 'home' when desirable & nutritious
food is prevalent & going North in Summer has to do
with less predators being around when they have chicks
in the nest . They spend longer times in their warm
habitats than they do in the cold climates. Some of
the birds start arriving in late August & start leaving
in late March to the end of April.
this is not the whole truth because a few of our migrants
come from the South, such as, the Fork-tailed Fly
Catcher. Several others are occasional visitors from
other directions, as in the 80's & 90's we regularly
had Scarlet & Glossy Ibis at Buccoo Marsh. Unfortunately
many types of human developments are spreading like
fungus over the tropical feeding grounds, creating
starvation conditions. Like a flood out of control,
shopping malls, beef farms for supplying cheap burger
joints, housing developments, golf courses, car parks
and such like are reducing the bird feeding grounds.
The result is birds are going south but not returning
having died of starvation from being unable to find
their ancestral feeding plants with which they had
migration is phenomenal; tiny birds nest all over
the US & Canada as far as the tundra and flocks appear
as clouds when they leave as summer is coming to an
end. One weather radar operator told me they appear
as fog on his screens.
first start arriving in August; I once netted a Blue-winged
Teal in early September that had a Fish & Wildlife
I.D ring. Their response was that the bird was born
that year and was ringed in Canada in August.
navigate by many means, such as the learned experience
of their elders' memorized landmarks. Using the gravitational
and magnetic forces of the Earth, they sometimes go
wrong, when blown off- course by strong winds. On
occasion birds from the tropics are found in New England
and even old England or birds from England are seen
here on the rare occasion and also the permanent resettlement
of Cattle Egrets from Africa.
list of recorded migrants to Tobago is quite exhaustive
and includes the Peregrine Falcon, Great Blue Heron,
Laughing Gull, White Tailed Tropic Bird, Fork Tailed
Fly Catcher and the American Coot.
of Tobago - A beautiful poster illustrating many of
the islands's more common feathered inhabitants -
Avl. PennySavers Liquor Dept. & Gift Shops Island
It's a term that's used to describe
the variety of life on earth in all its forms and
the diverse kinds of habitats or ecosystems in which
they're found. In Tobago's case these are the tropical
rain forests, wetlands and mangroves and the marine
ecosystems which include the popular coral reefs.
to the fact that aeons ago Tobago was once connected
to South America, many of the flora and fauna of the
mainland are to be found here.
of the volcanic separation of the land mass, many species
of life forms are found nowhere else but in Tobago!
The island has been blessed with a rich species biodiversity
that includes over 210 species of birds, 17 bats, 16
lizards, 21 snakes, 14 frogs, 80 tropical reef fish
and 3 endangered sea turtles.
has a system of national parks and laws which promote
conservation of biodiversity as many plant and animal
extinctions can take place on islands like Tobago.
Tobago is a non-governmental organization that actively
promotes public awareness and education about our
natural environment. Go visit their Education Centre
@ #11 Cuyler St. Scarborough. Tel 660 7462 - Help
protect Tobago's environment.
Courtesy of Environment Tobago. www.environmenttobago.net
the last ice age, Tobago was part of South America,
human beings making hardly a footprint. Birds evolved.
There are, today, 210 species of birds in Tobago.
You will hear them whistling, even at night. I hear
the haunting call of the Common Potoo and at dusk
and dawn, the Chachalaca, our national bird.
anywhere and you will see the Blue-Grey Tanager a
flashing and eye-catching blue and be entertained
by the most melodious whistling of the Tropical Mockingbird.
Look on the overhead wires and see the King Bird,
while the Copper-Rump Humming bird is at every flower.
Nearer to home, the chirpy-cheepy House Wren and the
ubiquitous Bananaquit hoping to find a sugar feeder
or impatiently trailing wisps of dried grass to build
a seemingly impossible strategically placed home at
a bough's end.
The Rain Forest is full of exemplary varieties, such
as the White-tailed Sabrewing Humming Bird, the Blue-backed
Manakin, the dancing birds of the forest. The Golden
Olive Woodpecker, the Yellow-legged Thrush - our operatic
star and that other melodious songster, the White
Throated Thrush. Overhead the Orange-winged Parrot,
have a variety of Raptors: The Great Black Hawk over
the forest, often the Broad-Winged. Near the sea the
Osprey; between the coconuts, the high speed Merlin;
the Yellow-headed Caracara and Peregrine Falcon.
are many other species of gorgeous Humming Bird such
as the White-necked Jacobin, the Ruby-topaz, the Black-throated
Mango, the Rufous-breasted Hermit, and the Blue-chinned
Sapphire amongst others.
Little Tobago Bird Sanctuary the most delightful,
the Blue Crowned Mot Mot and Tobago's superstar the
Red-billed Tropic Bird.
there are the wetland birds. Most common are the Cattle
Egret, the Little Egret, the stately Great Egret,
the Snowy Egret, the Black-Bellied Tree Duck, the
White-cheeked Pintail, the Anhinga, looking like a
flying javelin, the Grebes, the Least and the Pied,
tiny birds that dive, the Gallinules, the common and
the Purple, the Little Blue Heron and the Green-backed.
Come to Tobago for a banquet of birds, they are right
there, even in your hotel grounds - in fact, right
outside your window.
of Tobago - A beautiful poster illustrating many of
the islands's more common feathered inhabitants -
Avl. PennySavers Liquor Dept. & Gift Shops Island
Having made the trip myself
just months ago, I can recommend that the place to
see lots of giant Leatherback turtles laying their
eggs nightly, is the little fishing village of Grande
Riviere on Trinidad's wild north coast.
Save Our Sea Turtles organization and their Trinidad
colleagues have been working together for some years
now to protect the endangered species while at the
same time creating opportunities for the public to
witness these manifestations at first hand, under
supervision and in an educational way.
was very impressed with the attitude and level of
organization which offered the opportunity of booking
an approximately 2 hour group tour with commentary
and instructions from a knowledgeable guide. A free
video is shown beforehand to help with understanding
and expectations, all for an exceedingly modest fee
of less than 2 pounds sterling. Although I say 'tour',
it's more of an orderly walk on the beach (closed
from 6 p.m nightly to facilitate the turtles coming
ashore) going from turtle to turtle. Naturally, we
didn't need to visit all of them but there were about
a dozen on our end of the beach. No flash photography,
no smoking, no noisy conversations allowed. Mind you,
it would have been very understandable if one were
to exclaim out loud when confronting these huge creatures
which have been around since the dinosaurs.
very early morning beach visit is a definite bonus
to see late arrivals or those not quite finished laying
by day break and those making their way back to sea.
are three picturesque hotels facing the sea and a
few basic guest houses in the village that cater for
visitors at this egg-laying time of year. The drive
along the secluded, rugged coastline through parts
of a rain forest is another plus and an excellent
reason to visit during the nesting months of March
to August when numerous sightings are guaranteed,
unlike in Tobago where there are not so many and certainly
not en masse laying that I witnessed in Grande Riviere.
A once in a lifetime experience.
Tour Ops in Tobago can make joint arrangements with
their Trinidad counterparts for you to be delivered
door to door as well as the hotels arrange pick up
and returns from Trinidad airport.
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