Shifting grounds in the ephemeral island in the Bahamas
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Shifting grounds in the ephemeral island in the Bahamas

People of Andros Island
Shifting grounds in the ephemeral island in the Bahamas

Pocketed with large bodies of marshland, mangroves and tidal caves, the island of Andros is home to exceptional seafarers and fishers who able to adapt to an area that is not quite solid ground or fluid sea. 

In particular, they use aquatic caves extensively and Sarah Wise, project proponent, observes that recent ethnographic research on people’s uses of aquatic caves over their lifetime suggests residents have observed changing climate conditions and altered resource use patterns within their lifetimes. Bahamians, especially Androsians, rely on their environment for their livelihood and security; however, emergent environmental conditions such as sea level rise, increased storm events, and coastal development continue to alter the physical geography of the island as well as the way people live their daily lives. From this project, Sarah will investigate how the people of Andros perceive the threat of climate change as well as how they incorporate changing climate conditions into their daily life while raising awareness on the issues surrounding climate change. 

“You can’t worry about storms. They come. They come. They gonna
always come. Ain’t no one dead from no storm. Least not these days.
My boy died messing with one of them holes. Children always falling
in those, drowning. You got to watch them holes, they’s what kills
you here”.


This research suggests that, while there is little awareness of topical issues such as climate change, there is a great deal of interest in environmental threats regionally as well as internationally. Clearly, there is a need for educational outreach efforts regarding climate change and associated threats. While perhaps not yet familiar with the terminology, residents of Andros have certainly observed environmental changes associated with climate change and continue to innovatively adapt to changing conditions. As one elderly man said during an interview,

“We know change, girl. This place always changing. Ain’t nothing you can do about it, except change right along with it.”

The island’s social and environmental history speaks to that change. The land itself has shifted with rising tides and catastrophic storms. Settlements have repeatedly destroyed, resurrected, and moved. Fisheries have collapsed and fishers have altered their fishing patters, gear, and finally targets species. There is tremendous evidence of resilience among Androsians and additional research would greatly benefit our understanding of how residents of small islands perceive and cope with large-scale environmental change.


© Andros Island. Photo : Sarah Wise

  • Region: Central and South America and the Caribbean
  • People/Coummunity: Andros, The Bahamas
  • Proponent: Sarah Wise
  • Date: June 2010 to August 2010
  • Topics: Knowing weather and climate hazards