Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 4th 2014 Contents A14
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 4, 2014
Plants and animals in the
Aripero mangrove and Dow River
are now facing the threat of irre-
versible damage, as the oil spill
ravaging the south-western
peninsula has crept further into
the protected area.
Otaheite Fisherfolk Association
president Michael Ramnath,
speaking with the T&T Guardian
in a telephone interview on Thurs-
day, described the situation as an
"environmental disaster" and said
nothing was being done.
"The oil has gone into the man-
grove and contaminated the area,"
"This is a national crisis, where
the mangrove has been totally
contaminated with this black oil
and all the living things inside
there, from the crabs, the fish, the
oysters and the shrimps, have
died. The mangrove roots are
coated with oil."
Ramnath lamented that the
clean-up activities were going at
a "snail s pace. It is very, very
slow. I have never seen so much
devastation to mangrove and
nothing is being done."
On December 17, the first oil
spill was discovered in San Fer-
nando. By the following day oil
began washing ashore in La Brea.
Yesterday marked 18 days that
Petrotrin has been battling to con-
tain the oil spill which has ravaged
the south-western peninsula.
US experts from a Florida-based
firm, Oil Spill Response, have been
assisting in the clean-up effort.
However, on Monday, Petrotrin
chairman Lindsay Gillette
announced the discovery of the
11th oil spill in two weeks.
Ramnath said the situation is
worrying for Otaheite fishermen,
who depend on the Aripero man-
grove for their livelihood. On
Monday, Otaheite fishermen took
the T&T Guardian and other
media personnel on a boat tour
of the area to highlight the con-
dition of the mangrove and the
thick layer of oil creeping towards
it.Thick oil had formed a carpet-
like layer over the sand along the
coastline and oil was seen coating
some of the mangrove roots.
Ramnath said since then the
situation had worsened and oil
had intruded into the mangrove
and Dow River, Rousillac.
"The oil has engulfed the river
"South of the mangrove is a
large lake that is covered with a
thick layer of oil.
"When the guys lower their nets
to drag the bottom of the sea it
(the sea floor) is covered with oil.
When they pull it (the net) up it
is covered with oil, (as well as)
the fish and shrimp, that is what
is left, is contaminated," Ramnath
He said the Aripero mangrove
is also one of the nesting areas
for the Scarlet Ibis and since the
oil began seeping into the area,
no one has seen any Scarlet Ibis
roosting in the mangrove.
"The crabs in the ground are
stuck in their holes. The birds are
feeding on the dead crabs on the
shore and they are dying too," he
"There are small red crabs
which the Scarlet Ibis eats, and
they have died, so the Scarlet Ibis
has migrated. We did not see any
yesterday. Normally you would
see them on the trees and they
would go feeding on the man-
Ramnath said oil had started
affecting fishing boats moored at
Otaheite Bay and he believed it
was heading north because of a
change in tidal currents.
"In the wet season the current
moves east to west (a downward
tide). When the dry season comes
the currents change: it would be
an up-tide. It moves west to east.
"The oil has reached Otaheite
and our biggest fear is if this oil
reaches into the Oropouche lagoon
when the up-tides start to come
in the dry season," he said.
A mantis shrimp covered in oil along the Almond Beach, Aripero, on Monday. Fishermen now fear the oil spill will
also affect the mangrove. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
A white egret stands in the oil polluted waters of Coffee Beach, La Brea.
The area has been hardest hit by the Petrotrin oil spill and
environmentalists fear there will be a long-standing impact on wildlife and
the ecosystem in the region long after the spill has been cleaned up.
PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Otahetie fisherman Balram Ramkharan shows the thick oil along Almond
Beach, Aripero, on Monday. Fishermen say the conditions have worsened
and they now fear the oil spill will also affect the mangrove.
PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Petrotrin oil spill reaches Aripero
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