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Manzanilla being washed away

Sunday, February 2, 2014
Coconut trees lay in the surf of the Manzanilla coastline, uprooted by soil erosion by the sea.

Parts of Trinidad’s east coast are being washed away into the sea, as captured in these photos taken by resident SUNJAY LINGO. Some beach areas in Manzanilla are already disappearing, putting nesting sites for leatherback turtles at risk. Collapsed coconut trees drift in the surf like fallen giants, as the waves have removed the sand in which they grow. 


As the sea relentlessly encroaches onto jetties and houses, it is eroding away residential seafront property and has already taken the Manzanilla fishing depot. Homes of some coastal residents are under threat from nature, as concrete and other structures are undermined and lose stability. According to residents, in the past year alone, the shoreline has receded by about 50 to 100 feet.



EMA meets to determine course of action
Meanwhile, chairman of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Dr Allan Bachan spent most of yesterday in Mayaro investigating the reports of beach erosion. In a telephone interview, Bachan said the erosion was affecting beaches from Manzanilla to Matura and was caused in part by climate change and tidal movements. “There is a very strong undercurrent that is dragging away the sand,” Bachan said.


He said the extent of the damage was “concerning” and was meeting with stakeholders in the areas to determine a course of action. Chief among Bachan’s concerns are the leatherback turtles that seasonally nest in the area. “Beach erosion causes problems for the nesting sites, but fortunately we have seen an increase in the turtle nesting activity along the north coast,” he said.


The erosion on the beaches was undermined some homes along the coast, but Bachan said sea encroachment was nothing new. “It has been happening for some time. What we have now, which is very good, is a more environmentally sensitive population so it is highlighted more,” Bachan said. But while he applauded that sensitivity, he said it was man’s own lack of consideration for the environment that was causing these problems.


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