ABOUT THE MARITIME OCEAN COLLECTION
Trinidad and Tobago is home to a unique coral-reef ecosystem, which serves crucial ecological, economic and cultural roles. While there is some understanding and appreciation of what coral reefs provide, less than 1% of Trinbagonians have actually seen these reefs. We want the citizens of our twin-island nation to see the beauty of our coral reefs and understand their importance.
The marine expanse of Trinidad and Tobago is about 15 times the size of our combined land mass. It is our responsibility to protect and manage these marine environments, especially coral reefs, for our economy and livelihoods. More importantly we want everyone to appreciate our reefs, see how we impact them and recognize that we need to sustain them.
The Maritime Ocean Collection integrates state-of-the-art 360º photography, Google Street View, smartphone technology, and videography, to allow anyone – adult or child, Trinbagonian or visitor – to view Trinidad and Tobago’s remarkable underwater world.
We are building an underwater collection of Tobago’s coral reefs and marine environments to increase awareness, engagement and education, and to instil a sense of stewardship for these fragile marine ecosystems. This imagery will form the basis of Trinidad and Tobago’s first online coral-reef collection and will provide a baseline record for scientific comparison and management.
The Full Picture
Tobago’s location results in unique coral reefs compared to the rest of the Caribbean. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Orinoco outflow on Tobago’s marine environments results in unique coral reefs. These coral reef communities can be found in each bay around the island. The reefs are hosts to a diverse array of marine residents, such as sponge communities that thrive in nutrient rich waters, as well as resident marine turtles and eagle rays.
The Buccoo Reef off southwest Tobago is the only marine protected area in Trinidad and Tobago, unfortunately with little enforcement of the protection and management plan.
The coral reefs in northeast Tobago (Speyside, Charlotteville, Roxborough) are currently being considered for designation as another marine protected area. This Collection will showcase coral reefs throughout Tobago, give an identity to these coral reefs and reinforce the need for active management.
While the scientific evidence is clear on the threats that affect our reefs and the need to protect them, images of coral reefs reveal their beauty and demise, and will be powerful tools to speak to the hearts and minds of people in order to make changes.
We have been experiencing the severe impacts of climate change for over 40 years: Tobago reefs have undergone mass coral bleaching events in 1997, 2005 and 2010. Climate change scenarios predict that with warmer surface temperatures, coral bleaching events are expected to become more severe and more frequent so that there will be limited time to recover.
In addition to warming temperatures, sea level rise and ocean acidification compound the challenges. Hurricane events are expected to intensify and add to the stress levels of Caribbean coral reefs. Without active protection and management, the value of our coral reef services, such as coastal protection and habitat for fish and marine stocks, will continue to decline.
We hope to communicate the importance of protecting this important asset – our coral reefs – through the use of powerful underwater imagery and visual technology. By providing a resource package for education and science, this project is expected to encourage advocates for coral reef conservation and climate change initiatives in Trinidad and Tobago.
so that everyone is aware of where they are,
what they look like and can be inspired by them.
Dr Anjani Ganase
Lead Operator and Underwater Photographer
Anjani is a Marine Biologist with a special interest in coral reef ecology and understanding drivers of marine spatial patterns and the impacts on livelihoods. During her time at the University of Queensland, Australia, she mapped coral reefs around the world using 360-degree imagery technology for the purpose of online engagement and outreach as well as scientific research.
Through the Maritime Ocean Collection Project, she aims to create novel opportunities to engage with people on critical coral reef issues by meshing state-of the art 360-degree photography, Google street maps and cell phone technology to strengthen the connection between people and coral reefs and to showcase their importance and how we impact them.
Jonathan is a Marine Technician with 20 years’ experience in marine science and research in Trinidad and Tobago. Under the Biodiversity and Ecology Research Programme of the Institute of Marine Affairs, he supports research and analysis of coastal and marine ecosystems.
He is a qualified PADI Divemaster and experienced underwater photographer with key contributions in multimedia productions to support public outreach, education and awareness initiatives.
Ryan is a marine scientist and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist with a M.Sc. degree in Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management from the University of Trinidad and Tobago. He is also a founder and Director of the marine-focused NGO SpeSeas.
Ryan’s main goal is to encourage the use of GIS in the management of our coastal and ocean environments to enhance the decision-making process for sustainable use of our natural resources. He is passionate about marine and environmental science and working with youth to help prepare them for future careers in science.
Ryan was responsible for managing the finances and assisting with the coordination of field activities for the project.
Dr Farahnaz Solomon
Farahnaz is a Research Officer at the Institute of Marine Affairs, where she has worked for over 10 years. She has a special interest in the science and management of tropical biodiversity. She believes that an understanding of how marine ecosystems contribute to livelihoods and well-being can stimulate positive approaches to the use of ocean resources, and effect policy.
Farahnaz is an Erasmus Mundus scholar and has a Ph.D. in Marine Ecosystem Health and Conservation from the University of Algarve in Portugal and the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in France. Her Ph.D. work focused on marine population connectivity. With regard to coral reefs her interest includes reef fisheries and fish larval connectivity.
The Maritime Financial Group is an insurance company operating in Trinidad and Tobago for over 50 years, providing life and general insurance solutions to individuals and organizations throughout the country.
Maritime is committed to improving the lives of children in Trinidad and Tobago. These efforts focus on social and environmental issues that are both critical to the development of young people and relevant to the business.
Maritime will use this programme to mesh responsibility for the marine environment with education, in the hope that raising awareness will foster environmental stewardship within this and future generations.
As a progressive insurance company, aware of the impacts of climate change on marine environments, Maritime and its partners will work together to mitigate impacts on jobs, health, coastal communities and our planet.
Underwater Earth is an Australian non-profit, established in 2010, with a global focus – to reveal the ocean to the world using creative storytelling combined with innovative technology.
Underwater Earth pioneered the technology to bring coral reefs to our homes, through online platforms such as Google Street View. They developed the SVII, a unique underwater mapping camera and scooter unit capable of taking 360-degree imagery of the reefscape or any marine habitat and collecting images of the reef continuously for large spatial scales.
This camera system was used in the broadscale-mapping project known as the XL Catlin Seaview Survey. Understanding the power of these images, Underwater Earth also developed the SVX (Seaview X) camera unit; an underwater camera unit system and post-processing package that can be used to take 360-degree imagery of reefs of iconic and notable locations, and uploaded on to Google Street View.
Through the Trusted Seaview Partnership Programme, they make this novel technology available to countries and conservation organizations that do not have the resources.
SpeSeas is an NGO of Trinbagonian scientists, conservationists, and communicators who wish to make positive changes to the way the ocean is used and managed in our country, our region and our world.
SpeSeas uses science, education and advocacy to ensure a better understanding of marine ecosystems among all sectors. Under our banner “To use science, education and advocacy to enhance the integrity and resilience of coastal and marine ecosystems by influencing human behaviour.”
SpeSeas are the official operators of the Maritime Ocean Collection and carried out the collection of 360-images of coral reefs around Tobago.
SpeSeas aims to highlight both the beauty and destruction of our coral reefs with the hope to instil stewardship for the protection of our precious marine environments.
The Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC) began operating in Charlotteville in 2014 with a small team of staff and community-based members. Using engagement, capacity building and empowerment, ERIC seeks to encourage the development of effective and meaningful co-participatory resource management in northeast Tobago through creating connections between livelihoods and conservation.
Over the past six years our team has worked on baseline ecosystem monitoring including reef and forest health, turtle and shark populations, as well as mentoring sister NGOs and providing technical expertise to support sustainable resource use in northeast Tobago.
ERIC is specifically proud of its mutually beneficial relationship with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders committed to conservation of our natural and cultural heritage as well as to the well being of our communities.
Frontier Divers is a locally owned dive shop on the island of Tobago managed by Alvin & Kerry Douglas. Alvin (otherwise known as “BIG DOUGIE”) is a former member and dive instructor of the Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard of thirteen years and has over twenty-one years of dive experience.
As Dougie is also a Master Scuba Diver Trainer, he conducts lectures and consultancy services to public and private institutes, as well as carries out most of the PADI dive courses. Frontier Divers is an avid supporter of marine research in Tobago and provides field support services to marine scientists.
Dougie is passionate about educating and exposing young adults to the marine environment of Tobago and especially enjoys getting them involved in lionfish control activities.
The Institute of Marine Affairs is a multi-disciplinary marine and environmental research organisation, under the Ministry of Planning and Development.
The Institute is mandated to collect, analyse and disseminate information relating to the economic, technological, environmental, social and legal developments in marine affairs and to formulate and implement specific programmes/projects. The IMA aims to use research of marine ecosystems to advise on policies and management strategies that are geared towards conservation and improving livelihoods.
Outreach and education to promote a public understanding of and an appreciation for all aspects of the marine and related environment is also a major objective of the IMA.