Trinidad & Tobago’s rivers are filled with at more than 40 different species of fish of all shapes, sizes and habits. One of the best-known is the ‘teta’, also called the ‘Anne Marie’, and known to scientists as Hypostomus robinii.
This article originally appeared in the T&T Newsday as part of the TTFNC's natural history series.
Most of us associate crabs with a trip to the beach – scuttling across the sand or hiding in a rockpool. However, here in T&T, these ten-legged crustaceans have even colonised the upper reaches of our forest streams. The mountain, or manicou, crab (Rodriguezus garmanii – formerly placed in the genus Eudaniela) is typically found at between 50-800 metres elevation, and displays several impressive adaptations that allow it enjoy an inland existence.
This article originally appeared in the Newsday as part of the TTFNC's natural history series.
The rivers of Trinidad are home to six very distinctive types of catfish. These include armoured catfish such as the leopard-spotted ‘teta’ (Hypostomus robinii), the enigmatic ‘cascadu’ (Hoplosternum littorale) and the popular aquarium fish ‘pui pui’ (Corydoras aeneus). All tend to be bottom-dwellers and are grouped together as ‘cat’ fish on account of their barbels, which are sensory ‘whisker-like’ structures on their faces used to locate food. In Trinidad the fish most commonly referred to by the name ‘catfish’ is Rhamdia quelen, which unlike the species listed above, is silvery, unarmoured and scale-less.
Rhamdia is found throughout much of Central and South America, from Mexico to Argentina. In T&T, it is especially common in the rivers of the southern slopes of the Northern Range, but is found throughout the country, with the exception of Trinidad’s north coast and the whole of Tobago.
Like many catfish species, Rhamdia possess mildly venomous spiny rays on their pectoral and dorsal fins, which are used for defence against larger predatory fish. The barbels on either side of their face help them locate food in dark or murky waters, such as their preferred prey of small fish. However, their varied omnivorous diet also includes insects, zooplankton, plant matter and crustaceans.
Despite living in Trinidad for over 4 years now, there are still some hikes that I have yet to try, so I was excited when a friend suggested we attempt a new route in the north of the island – to the elusive St Cion Bay.
We began in cool, breezy hills at the western end of the Northern Range – near the village of Paramin, a farming community famous for music, blue devils and cool breezes.
Unfortunately the view from the ridge was non-existent as we were greeted by sheets of rain, even though March is traditionally one of the driest months here. This also meant that the downward hike was treacherous, with slippery rocks and leaves underfoot. We were forced to take a very slow pace, watching our every step – and even so, several of our party ended up on the ground at various points. Thankfully no serious injuries were sustained, and the forest in the misty rain was magical.
I enjoy writing about natural history, science and other interesting things. Links to some of these pieces are posted here.