Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grenadines Underwater Map

Underwater mapping system being developed for the Grenadines

* By Carmel Haynes

Research will lay foundation for Grenadines to be named a World Heritage Site

The sustainable development of this unique island chain is being given a boost through a major collaboration effort between multiple organisations across the countries of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which will result in a first of its kind map of the unique underwater features of the Grenadine island chain.

This mapping expedition will take place from August 16th to September 5th, 2009, when the Sustainable Grenadines Project, conducts a fact-finding cruise through the Grenadine Islands under the leadership of Kim Baldwin, a PhD researcher with the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the University of West Indies, Cave Hill.

This three-week research cruise will identify and document critical marine-life habitats such as reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves through SCUBA diving and the use of a live-action drop camera that can descend to 250 ft. Data gathered through these methods will be combined to create a first-of-its-kind 3-D underwater map of the Grenada Bank. Local knowledge will not be left out as communities across the Grenadines will be asked to identify areas important for conservation and livelihoods through a series of on-land consultations during the cruise. The cruise will travel from the Vincentian mainland to Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, the Tobago Cays Marine Park, Union Island, Petit Saint Vincent and Petit Martinique, Carriacou and Il de Rhonde.

This cruise forms part of Baldwin’s, PhD research project. The Grenadines Marine Resource and Space-use Information System (MarSIS) project is unique in that it brings together data from many sources (including local knowledge) so that a transboundary marine geographic information system (GIS) can be developed. This research will aid planning and management of the Grenadines marine environment in order to preserve it for future generations. Furthermore this research and development of the MarSIS will lay the foundation for the designation of the area as a World Heritage Site.

This cruise is sponsored by The Moorings, Lighthouse Foundation/Sustainable Grenadines, Mustique Company, Tobago Cays Marine Park, CERMES-UWI & PADI AWARE Foundation. The crew consists of two Grenadines fishers, a marine park ranger from the Tobago Cays Marine Park, a local captain and two fisheries biologists from the UWI.

Interested community members and the press are invited to come aboard the research catamaran for a day as we sail and explore the uncharted marine habitats of the Grenadines. For more information on this initiative or to plan a day-trip please contact the Sustainable Grenadines Project in Union Island at 784-485-8779 or contact Kim Baldwin via email at or on the boat cell # 784-454-0606. Interested persons can also stay updated with cruise activities by checking out the website; or by closely following the Grenadines MarSIS BLOG, which will carry a daily sailing log of activities, pictures and drop-camera video footage