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Trinidad and Tobago herbarium specimens join the botany collection

15 March 2017 by Wendy

Pitch lake

Pitch lake

The recent acquisition to World Museum’s herbarium of 131 specimens from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago has been an interesting and welcome addition to Botany’s collection. Prior to acquiring this collection, we had less than 100 specimens from Trinidad and Tobago, the vast majority of these being a collection of grasses.

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas collections at World Museum, collected the herbarium specimens, along with colleagues on the islands, during field work for her research project on wooden artefacts that have been found in Trinidad’s Pitch Lake. Read more…

Tobago: the final stop

27 August 2015 by Paula

The Tobago field collecting team: (left to right): David, Terri and Darren

The Tobago field collecting team: (left to right): David, Terri and Darren

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas, collection concludes her research journey through Trinidad & Tobago:

Day 9-10: Tobago

Tobago: the final stop in the herbarium/strontium collecting tour. Forestry officer Mr. Darren Henry picked me up early on the first day for a quick visit to the Forestry offices to discuss itinerary and best places to find the specific species we’re after, before venturing out to the ‘wilds’ of the island. Read more…

The central South West: ‘five-fingers’, ‘fat pork’ and tamarind sours

20 August 2015 by Paula

Waterloo temple

Waterloo temple

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas Collection, is on the last leg of her research trip to Trinidad before heading over to Tobago:

Day 7-8: The central South West: ‘five-fingers’, ‘fat pork’ and tamarind sours

Our last area was the central South West, one of the island’s more geologically complex regions, with both Tertiary and Cretaceous sedimentary bedrock.  This was among the oldest geology on the island, and generally, the older the geology, the higher the expected strontium isotope values.  We covered a large region over the course of two days, from Waterloo in the north to Moruga on the south coast, finishing off on the important archaeological site of Banwari Trace, home of ‘Banwari Woman’, thought to date to ca. 5000 BC, which would make her the oldest human skeleton known from the entire Caribbean. Read more…

The source: Pitch Lake and environs

11 August 2015 by Paula

Pitch Lake and a view of the shoreline from the centre of the lake during a downpour

A view of the shoreline from the centre of Pitch Lake before and after a downpour. The two photos were taken within moments of each other.

We continue with Joanna on her journey through Trinidad as she reaches Pitch Lake:

Days 5 & 6: The source: Pitch Lake and environs

Pitch Lake: the reason I’m in Trinidad. Our mission over the next two days is to collect samples both within and around the lake to give us a good strontium signal for this unique region. Of course the other Trinidad/Tobago regions are important too – but this is the core of our study. Read more…

The oilfields of the South East and ‘pitch lake’ roads

7 August 2015 by Paula

The southeast crew

The southeast crew: (left to right): Keisha, Leo, Imran, Jameel.

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas collection, continues her rather bumpy journey through Trinidad, we catch up with her for:

Day 4: The oilfields of the South East and ‘pitch lake’ roads

We were joined by forest officers Mr. Imran Mohammed and Mr. Leo Persad for our tour of the South East forest reserves.  This region holds some of the largest forested areas in Trinidad, including the Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. It also has oil reserves running throughout it, and there are many small oil pumps working away. Read more…

Mountains, Maracas beach and more mangos

4 August 2015 by Paula

A mountainous vantage point between Verdant Vale and Morne La Croix

A mountainous vantage point between Verdant Vale and Morne La Croix

It’s day 3 for Joanna Ostapkowicz on her research trip to Trinidad:

“Day 3: Mountains, Maracas beach and more mangos: the Central North West

The North West is Trinidad’s mountainous region, with steep roads heading out to the coasts. The roads cut through mountain rock, sometimes with only bamboo groves keeping the road from slipping down slope. It is here that we found some of the largest examples of our key species – such as this magnificent Andira sp. (Angelin), perched along the Marienne River. Read more…

Curious dogs, venomous vipers and a truck full of samples

24 July 2015 by Paula

The rugged coast along the road to Matelot.

The rugged coast along the road to Matelot.

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas, collection continues her journey through Trinidad, here is her latest update:

Day 2: Curious dogs, venomous vipers and a truck full of samples – a hike in North East Trinidad

This is rainy season in Trinidad: not only did we benefit from another day of overcast skies, but the heavens did open for a short time – and there is nothing like a tropical shower to cool you down after a bit of humid forest trekking. Read more…

Cocoa, mango and the generous Trini spirit

20 July 2015 by Paula

Doux-doux - the sweetest of mangos

Doux-doux – the sweetest of mangos – though Trinidad has a huge variety of mangos, and everyone has their own preference, often hotly contested.

This is the second blog in the series from Joanna Ostapkowicz, curator of the Americas collection at World Museum.

“Day 1: Cocoa, mango and the generous Trini spirit: Herbarium collecting in Eastern Trinidad

Overcast days are a blessing when fieldworking in Trinidad – and indeed any part of the Caribbean: the heat and humidity can knock even the locals back. Read more…

The connection between living trees and Trinidad’s prehistory

17 July 2015 by Paula

A medium-sized specimen of Andira sp., growing in the forest reserves of Tamana, Eastern Trinidad. These trees can grow up to 100 feet in height.

Fig 1. A medium-sized specimen of Andira sp. growing in the forest reserves of Tamana, Eastern Trinidad. These trees can grow up to 100 feet in height.

Joanna Ostapkowicz, curator of the Americas collections for World Museum, reports from Trinidad, where she is working on a research project:

“The 4×4 rattled down the dirt road surrounded by the lush vegetation of Tamana, Eastern Trinidad, coming to a stop when forestry officer Harris Soukiel gave the word that one of ‘our’ trees had been sighted: Andira sp. (common name: Angelin).  Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.