Since December 17th, the Trinidadian state-owned oil company Petrotrin has admitted to 11 oil spills in the Gulf of Paria, off the western coast of the island of Trinidad. They are, collectively, the worst oil spills in the history of Trinidad & Tobago (a government representative estimated 236,250 gallons were spilled). But exactly how bad the spill is, and how much harm it will do, remains unclear.
The sea off the coast of Point-a-Pierre, where the oil was spilled last month, includes a mangrove forest, home to a wide variety of species found nowhere else. Trinidad is closer to the mainland than other Caribbean islands, and boasts monkeys, deer, the rare silky anteater, crocodiles and a diverse array of birds. "Where there should be an abundance of crabs and snails there are none, except for a few oil slicked survivors," writes Marc de Verteuil of Papa Bois Conservation, one of the issue's most outspoken activists, in an email. "Even the ever-present mosquitos, which should descend by the hundreds, are gone."