Tobago, a small island in the Caribbean, is renowned as the least spoiled island, having a rich rainforest and spectacular colorful coral reefs that attract hoards of snorkelers and scuba divers.
During 1973, Tobago’s biggest coral reef, in the neighborhood of Pigeon Point, got nominated as a marine park, despite having been significantly damaged by boat anchors, as well as snorkelers. Snorkelers can find a vast variety of corals like star, brain and Elkhorn along with other varieties. For viewing corals, visitors are taken around in small boats. Unfortunately, this activity is harming the reefs. A better choice to see the corals would be to go to the Coral Gardens, which have deeper water so you can enjoy the beautiful sight of colorful corals from the water surface.
Tobago has coastlines from the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the latter having stronger currents. That is why it is easier for divers to discover quite a few of the protruding and protected reefs in areas like Arnos Vale on its west coast. This area has big corals, as well as sponges, all this in just forty feet of water depth. It also has many unseen buried alcoves full of marine life. Cove Reef and Flying Reef on its south coast offer great drift diving.
Experienced divers may want to explore wild reefs in Speyside, a town in northeast coast of Tobago. The currents there attract barracudas. The Japanese Garden is another protected site. Located close to Goat Island, it has an abundance of sponges and reef fish. Another popular diving spot of this island is Kelleston Drain, where you will find Manta rays hanging out around plain sloping reefs, at depths of 15 to 60 feet. It also has one of the world’s largest brain coral.
Visitors can go for a snorkeling tour from Scarborough, capital of Tobago. Visitors are taken to Buccoo Reef in a boat with glass bottom. These boats are similar to the one used by Jacques Cousteau, the marine explorer who called this one of the 3 most magnificent reefs in the world. The area just at the back of this reef contains shallow water with white sand. During her visit in 1962, the late Princess Margaret named it the “Nylon Pool.” It is believed that this water possesses rejuvenating properties.
All over the Caribbean, coral reefs are already getting damaged. It is estimated that twenty-five percent of them have already vanished. Even Tobago reefs have not remained unharmed. Maximum damage is caused by the widespread fishing and excessive water coming in from the land, containing contains harmful chemicals plus pesticides. Preventive measures include asking visitors to patronize only those hotels that have been certified for following local environmental laws. The divers should avoid touching any live coral, as even the least amount of contact may destroy coral polyps. They should use just subtle fin strokes in the region of coral beds.
The Good news is, according to researchers, even a badly degraded coral reef can bounce back to life if proper steps are followed for reef restoration with the help of experts, locals and tourists.