My name is Robin, I am a ZSL EDGE fellow, mother, daughter, sister, dreamer and sea-lover! If you have been to the seaside and have been lucky enough to swim by a coral reef, then you know how magical it is to discover a new sub-sea world. The sea is an important part of my life as an islander in the southern Caribbean. My EDGE species is mountainous STAR coral, scientific name: Montastrea faveolata.
Corals are special organisms made up of animals of the class Cnidaria, and photosynthetic algae known as Zooxanthellae (zoo-zan-thelly), together they live peacefully in a mutually beneficial relationship. As a marine conservationist and EDGE Fellow working in Trinidad and Tobago I study corals in partnership with the EDGE Programme at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Together, we hope to save those “wild things” that need urgent action for populations to have a chance at recovery.
My islands are Trinidad and Tobago, they are rich in natural resources such as oil and so it’s not surprising that Trinidad & Tobago exchanged hands many times, between the Spanish, English and French during the mid 1900’s.
Today the islands are best known for steel-pan music, an incredible diversity of people and a colourful carnival that attracts droves of visitors every year to our shores. Like the colours of the carnival, corals too can come in all sorts of colours: green, brown, orange, however many Tobago corals have lost their colour in a process known appropriately as “bleaching”. Due to a climate change induced rise in sea temperature, Tobago’s corals have suffered 2 massive bleaching events in 2005 and 2010.
My 2015 study of Mountainous Star Coral in Tobago will for the first time, link the coral condition to various reef uses through dive surveys, interviewing fisherfolk and documenting attitudes of locals towards corals and coral conservation as we fight to save what remains of our fringing reefs surrounding sweet sunny Tobago.