Sunday, 5 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E
In the year 2005, Tobago's corals were afflicted with the effects of a disease known as coral bleaching. Many theories have been presented as to the cause or causes of this problem, and some include: sediment buildup within the island that has been introduced into the water runoff, as a result of the development of infrastructure, temperature and climate changes which may be due to the effects of global warming, and sewage buildup from human population. Current research includes testing the chemical composition of Tobago's coastal sands, particularly samples located in the South Western side of the island because it is here that the majority of the corals are located. One major environmental factor that has influenced development of Tobago's coral reefs is the seasonal discharge of the Orinoco River from nearby Venezuela. The Orinoco flow is greatest during the wet season, June to December, when floodwaters with lower salinity and higher turbidity are transported by the Guyana Current into coastal waters of Trinidad and Tobago. The impact of the Orinoco plume is more severe in Trinidad than Tobago, but it is thought to have minimal effects on coral reefs along Tobago's northern coastlines. However, there is evidence that corals all around have been significantly influenced by turbidity from the Orinoco plume. With this study, the authors hope to determine whether or not sediment pollution is evident in the sand samples, and if they contain heavy metals. If they do contain heavy metals, to what extent are these metals a contributing factor? If sewage is a main contributor, then there should be evidence of increased nutrients in the water and possibly coliform bacteria.
** Current research was supported by a LSAMP (The New York City Louis Stokes Alliance For Minority Participation) scholarship awarded to Jahmillah Khabir