Long-term Monitoring Project for Trinidad and Tobago

The need for the establishment of a long term monitoring project was identified by representatives from the Wider Caribbean Region based on a Regional Workshop held in Venezuela 29th – 31st March 2005, on the “Assessment of Land-Based Sources of Pollution and Methodologies in Land Based Sources of Pollution”.

The main goals of the study are:

  1. To assess the contribution of land-based sources of pollution in the coastal areas of  Trinidad and Tobago,
  2. To determine the transport and fate of pollutants in coastal areas of Trinidad and Tobago and
  3. To conduct water quality assessments of coral reefs in Tobago in order to add to existing data on distribution and abundance.

Sampling was conducted in the Gulf of Paria at 37 stations during the wet season of 2007 and the dry season of 2008. Sampling for the characterization of inorganic and domestic sources of pollution in the marine environment was completed for the wet season of 2008. The Gulf of Paria component of the project commenced in 2007 in Trinidad. The East coast component commenced in 2010.

Bacteriological water quality testing at popular recreational water-use areas in Trinidad and Tobago

The Marine Chemistry Department embarked on a two- year water quality-monitoring programme at selected recreational water-use areas in Trinidad and Tobago. The aim is to protect persons who participate in recreational water activities at these sites from potential health risks, as well as contribute to the establishment of standards.

Some goals of this project are:

  1. To conduct an environmental health assessment at selected recreational water-use sites in Trinidad and Tobago,
  2. To assess water quality at selected recreational water-use areas in Trinidad and Tobago for a period of at least two (2) years (by determining compliance with international standards or local standards where available),
  3. To detect any trends in water quality at the selected recreational water-use areas over the monitoring period,
  4. To identify possible sources of sewage contamination for the selected recreational water-use areas in Trinidad and Tobago and
  5. To establish a registration system for popular recreational water-use sites in Trinidad and Tobago.

Sampling has been conducted at Cocal, Mayaro and Guayaguayare.

Establishment of a Finger-printing database on petroleum hydrocarbons at the Institute of Marine Affairs

Trinidad and Tobago is extremely vulnerable to oil pollution.  The average reported number of oil spills greater than 1000l, during a five year period (1996-2000) was 240. Consequently, Trinidad was reported as an ‘oil spill heaven’, having a spill every 1.5 days (Agard, J. 2001).

A fingerprinting database can be used to link hydrocarbon pollution to their source(s). Collected samples are analysed and can be matched with reference samples in the database to determine the likely source(s). Fingerprinting by Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) compared to traditional techniques gives a better representation of true oil composition.  Specific target petroleum hydrocarbons are identified and include aliphatics (C10–C32), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their alkylated homologs, isoprenoids and terpane compounds.

This project is ongoing; samples are collected and analysed during oil spill incidents. A methodology of sample extraction and analysis was published in 2005.

Preliminary investigation of heavy metals in fish and the mobile/bio-available phase of sediments from Trinidad and Tobago

This study which is scheduled begin in September 2010 provides information on heavy metal contamination of (edible) commercial fish and shellfish species which constitute an important economic resource for Trinidad and Tobago.

Examination of the distribution of non-residual metals among the various geochemical phases - exchangeable, carbonate bound, iron-manganese oxide bound, organic matter and sulphide bound, is important in assessing the potential impact of metal-contaminated sediments in the environment.

The main goals of this study are:

  1. To investigate the potential mobility and bioavailability of heavy metals in sediments from Trinidad and Tobago and
  2. To determine whether any relationship exists between heavy metals in shrimp, demersal fish and pelagic fish from Trinidad and Tobago, and the mobile/ bioavailable heavy metal fraction in the sediments.

Investigation of contamination of Organotins at major ports, ship repair facilities and marine recreational areas in Chaguaramas

The goals of this study are as follows:

  1. To determine levels of butyltin compounds in water and sediment at selected  ports, harbours, ship repair facilities and recreational areas,
  2. To pinpoint possible sources of contamination in the marine environment,
  3. To provide results for more detailed studies and
  4. To obtain information which will assist in making recommendations for minimizing further organo-metallic pollution.

An investigation of the fate, cycling and movement of nitrogen in a mangrove environment using stable isotope studies in Trinidad

Goals of the project are as follows:

  1. To trace the cycling of nitrogen within the mangrove in its natural environment using natural isotopic abundance,
  2. To determine the delta Nitrogen 15 abundance in water, sediment and  mangrove leaf litter,
  3. To gather information about the detrital food-web by monitoring the path of the delta N15 and
  4. To determine if mangrove leaves act as a bio-monitor for anthropogenic inputs of nitrogen into the environment.