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IMA > Beaches & Bays Articles

What are Rip Currents?

By Christopher Alexis, Researcher, Oceanography & Coastal Processes Department Rip currents usually occur in close proximity to breaking waves and are common within pocket beaches with moderate to high wave energy. In Trinidad, these beaches may be found on the north coast (e.g. Maracas and Las Cuevas) and along the unsheltered east coast (e.g. Mayaro). In Tobago, rip currents may occur on most beaches that are not protected by coral reefs. These currents are dangerous and contribute to drowning occurrences annually particularly during celebratory times of the year. Rip currentsRip currents are powerful flows of water moving seaward that can effortlessly drag unsuspecting bathers quickly out to sea....

Coastal Erosion

Coastal Issues

ALGAL BLOOMS Algal blooms are observed when microscopic plants or phytoplankton, which are normally found in seawater, rapidly reproduce when environmental conditions are favourable. The blooms have been described as unusual green, pink or red patches of water. The discolouration is due to pigments in the cells of the alga. Algal blooms can cause death to marine life by depleting oxygen levels during decomposition, producing toxins that can poison animals or by clogging of gills. Not all blooms are harmful though and many disappear within a few hours with no fatal effect to marine life. Algal blooms have been reported on all coasts of Trinidad and...

Beach Safety

Safety at Beaches

Safety at Beaches The safer months for sea bathing in Trinidad and Tobago are generally from May to October. During this period, except for the occasional storm, the water tends to be calmer. From November to April the sea tends to be rougher. Bathers should take extra care when swimming during these months. On beaches where there are lifeguards, bathers should note the red warning flags denoting danger areas. Red/yellow flags indicate areas where it is safe to bathe. Ask the lifeguard on duty if you are not sure. NEVER bathe alone. Local residents usually know of the occurrence of rip currents and other hazards – ask...

Coastal Dynamics

Coastal Dynamics

What is a beach? A beach is a length of coastline where there is an accumulation of sediment, usually sand, but sometimes gravel or small boulders, alone or in any combination. Beaches can be sections of bays. For example, Chagville ‘Beach’ and Williams ‘Bay’ are sections of the larger Carenage Bay. For the purpose of this guide, unless otherwise stated, the terms ‘beach’ and ‘bay’ are used interchangeably. Beach Morphology There are two parts to every beach: the foreshore, which may slope gently or steeply down to the water and which is in direct contact with the sea as the tides ebb and flow, and the backshore...