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Ulva Lactuca

Ulva Lactuca

Ulva is a genus of green algae (Chorophyta); seven species of which are recorded for Trinidad and Tobago. The most commonly seen of these is Ulva lactuca Linnaeus, known as Sea lettuce. It is found growing on rocks and other solid surfaces in shallow waters and is thus often exposed at low tide. Irregular ins shape sometimes with ruffled edges, it is attached to the substrate by a small, disc-shaped holdfast. The thallus, which grows as a single frond, is a yellowish-green to dark green, two-layered sheet of randomly arranged cells. The cells appear to be empty, but for cup-shaped chloroplasts on the sides nearest...

Grooved goose-neck barnacle

Grooved goose-neck barnacle

Lepas anserifera Another type of barnacle that is commonly found attached to floating debris washed up on beaches, driftwood, and ship hulls is the Goose-neck barnacle. It has a long, fleshy stalk ending in a flat body formed of several connected calcareous plates. Barnacles feed through feather-like appendages called cirri. As the cirri rapidly extend and retract through the opening at the top of the barnacle, they comb the water for microscopic organism. When the tide goes out. The barnacle closes up shop to conserve moisture. As the tide comes in, a muscle opens the door so the feathery cirri can sift for food. You may also...

Fire Coral

Fire Coral

Fire Coral is associated with coral reefs where it occupies shallow water down to the deep reef. It forms colonies that look like coral but despite the name they are actually not true corals. They are more closely related to stinging hydroids and jellyfish. Fire coral is not always easily recognizable: it can form upright, ruffled sheets or small branches, may overgrow surfaces and other marine life, taking the shape of the encrusted object e.g. sea fans. It is readily seen at Mount Irvine, Buccoo Reef, and Speyside, Tobago, and on the reef flat at Salybia Bay, Toco, Trinidad. Contact with Fire coral is usually...

Coconut palm

Coconut palm

Science name: Cocos nucifera A common sight along the seashore worldwide, the slender, leaning trunk grows to a height of 25m. The leaves arise in a crown at the top, each leaf approximately 5m in length with many leaflets. The flowers grow among the leaves and are yellow-white in colour. Female flowers produce single-seeded fruit (coconuts). Each coconut has a fibrous husk which surrounds a woody shell containing the coconut meat, milk and oil. From the trunk to the nut every part of this versatile palm is useful. It is used in cooking, cosmetics, soap, fertilizer, roofing material, mats and even jewellery, among other things....

Science name: Echinaster sentus Thorny starfish Found in shallow water in seagrass beds and rocky areas, its colour varies from red to brown to purple. The tips of the five arms are blunt and covered with short, spaced spines. Sea stars are known for their ability to regenerate limbs. They accomplish this by having most or all of their vital organs in their arms. Photo credit: Jonathan Gomez

Thorny starfish, Spiny sea star

Science name: Echinaster sentus Thorny starfish Found in shallow water in seagrass beds and rocky areas, its colour varies from red to brown to purple. The tips of the five arms are blunt and covered with short, spaced spines. Sea stars are known for their ability to regenerate limbs. They accomplish this by having most or all of their vital organs in their arms. Photo credit: Jonathan Gomez You may also like ...

Rock crab, Zagaya

Rock crab, Zagaya

Science name: Grapsus grapsus A swift, little crab with a flattened body and sharp claws on the ends of its legs to help it hold on as it dashes over the rocks. Difficult to approach, the crab will retreat to a rock crevice at the first sign of movement. Its dark speckled body is well camouflaged against the wet rocks. It is often used as bait by shore fishermen. Sometimes one may come across a discarded rock crab moult of a reddish hue. When crabs moult the skeleton splits around the edge of the body from the rear and the animal crawls out backwards. Photo credit:...

Pink Morning Glory, Goat’s foot

Pink Morning Glory, Goat’s foot

Science name: Ipomoea pes-caprae White Morning Glory Science name: Ipomoea imperati (Vahl) Griseb. A creeping, perennial vine with showy flowers, it is one of the most widely distributed drought and salt-tolerant plants on sandy beaches. The pioneering species grows just above the high tide line and has long trailing stems that sprawl out and help stabilize the sand, making conditions favourable for the establishment of other plants. Two species of Morning Glory are found along the beaches of Trinidad and Tobago: one has lavender pink, funnel-shaped flowers about 5 cm in diameter, and waxy, alternate leaves that are two-lobed and said to resemble a Goat’s footprint;...

Mangrove Trinidad and Tobago - Red mangrove

Taking time to appreciate our Mangrove Forests

Our coastlines, especially the Gulf of Paria, were once lined with large trees with  entangled roots beaming with wildlife, where our grandfathers and fathers hunted crabs to put in the Sunday callaloo, and for oysters sold in spicy sauce around the Queen Parks Savannah.  Back then we did not fully understand he importance of these coastal forests, so as much as 50 % were cleared to build houses, businesses and ports. What are you talking about, you may ask? It’s our mangrove forests. Mangrove forests are spectacular and prolific ecosystems that are usually located on the boundary between land and sea.  Mangrove trees are salt-tolerant trees, also called...