10 natural wonders of T&T
In honour of World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5, 2017, here are just 10 of the many natural wonders of Trinidad and Tobago.
1. Tobago's Main Ridge Forest Reserve
Long before the call for environmental conservation became popular, Tobago’s protected forest stood as a haven for local flora and fauna.
The Main Ridge, approximately 14,000 acres of ancient forest, is the oldest protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere, dating back to April 13, 1776, and is on a Tentative List for UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
In March 2018, Main Ridge was declared a National Heritage Site by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
2. The Pitch Lake, La Brea
It may be a strange claim to fame for some, but the Pitch Lake is the largest natural asphalt deposit in the world, and it's ours.
It is said that Sir Walter Raleigh, who discovered the lake, was able to caulk and repair his ships using the material.
Fun fact: Many roads in the US are paved with pitch from the Pitch Lake. In 1887, Amzi Barber, an American businessman known as "The Asphalt King", secured a 42-year monopoly concession from the British Government for the Pitch Lake for his company, Barber Asphalt Paving Co. It was from this source that many of the first asphalt roads of New York City, Washington D.C., and other Eastern U.S. cities were paved.
3. The Queen’s Park Savannah
Although not entirely natural, the Queen’s Park Savannah is an important and protected green space in the heart of the capital.
The one-way roundabout has been claimed by many as the largest in the world.
Google Maps records the Queen’s Park Savannah at an approximate circumference of 3.7 km, putting it slightly past Malaysia’s Putrajaya roundabout, which measures 3.5 km in circumference.
However, Conde Nast Traveler discredits the QPS stating that it “isn’t anything like a circle”. But what do they know?
4. Gasparee Caves
The Gasparee Caves are found on the north-west coast of Trinidad and feature spectacular formations as well as the oilbird, a bird species found in South America and Trinidad.
The caves are said to be named after Don Gaspar, who was granted the island by Chacon under the terms of the Cedula of Population.
5. Nylon Pool, Tobago
Old wives tales say the Nylon Pool, a blissful, natural swimming pool in the middle of the ocean off the south-west coast of Tobago, will give eternal youth if you swim in it.
Whether it works or not, it surely leaves all who get the chance to bask in it feeling happier and young at heart.
The Nylon Pool was named by Princess Margaret during her visit in 1962, likening its brilliant blue beauty with that of a swimming pool.
6. Tobago's Coral Reefs
Close to the Nylon Pool lies Tobago's most famous coral reef, the Buccoo Reef - a main attraction for visitors to the island. There have been concerns over the health of the Buccoo Reef lately, due to rising temperatures and increasing levels of marine pollution.
Also within Tobago's surrounding waters lies the largest recorded brain coral in the world, measuring approximately 10 feet (three metres) high and 16 feet (5.3 metres) across.
The brain coral is accessible off the island’s north-east coast, near Speyside, and the reef itself holds numerous beautiful natural treasures that have brought divers and visitors from around the world.
7. Piparo Mud Volcano
The Piparo Mud Volcano caused great destruction and grief in 1997 when it erupted, destroying property and displacing approximately 31 families.
There are several other mud volcanos throughout Trinidad - the Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano in New Grant, the Digity Trace mud volcano and L’Eau Michel mud volcano located in Bunsee Trace, Penal.
8. Saltwater volcano, Rio Claro
T&T seems to have a thing for volcanoes, as local researchers claim to have discovered a salt water volcano in Rio Claro, causing intense interest from the public.
In April, a team of 37 geoscientists and guides visited the geological phenomenon.
Although the site is far from the ocean, from it bubbles a mixture of tar and sea water, which flows down into a salt water river.
Around 100 feet from the salt water volcano is a major oil seep, which also flows down toward the salt water river.
9. Leatherback nesting sites
The coasts of Trinidad and Tobago have been chosen as nesting sites for numerous Leatherback turtles, who return to our shores every year to lay their eggs.
The creatures are said to return to the shores where they were born, repeating the cycle and continuing the annual trek thousands of miles back to our shores.
Leatherback turtles are protected by law, however, there have been recent reports of turtle poaching both in Trinidad and Tobago.
10. The Golden Tree Frog
The Golden Tree Frog was thought to be endemic to Trinidad and can be found on Trinidad’s two highest peaks, El Cerro del Aripo (940 m) and El Tucuche (936 m).
However, the Golden Tree Frog also since been spotted in Venezuela.
Locally, the golden tree frog is protected by law including designation as an Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS) in 2013 by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA). El Tucuche has also been designated as a wildlife sanctuary.
What are some of T&T’s natural wonders that you think should be highlighted?