Human Impact on Marine Life and Global Warming

By: Melissa Santiago

Human Impact to Marine Life and Global Warming

Some of the main threat to marine life are ocean acidification, climate change, and global warming.  But humans pose a great on our marine life as well, whether it is overfishing or by the garbage which we dispose of in our seas.

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (2018), “each year, billions of pounds of trash and other pollutants enter the ocean”. Marine debris injures and kills marine life, interferes with navigation safety, and poses a threat to human health. Our oceans and waterways are polluted with a wide variety of marine debris, ranging from tiny microplastics to derelict fishing gear and abandoned vessels. The article speaks about how too much nutrients can cause alga bloom which is an overgrowth of algae. This is caused by nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus which are needed for plant growth.

 Humans have engaged in activities that produce black carbon particles. Black carbon particles are released into the atmosphere in the form of smoke that is produced by cooking with solid animal fuels, burning trees, and spewing diesel exhaust. When black carbon particles reach the atmosphere, they form a heat-absorbing layer that causes temperatures to rise. Raindrops tend to form around black carbon particles in the atmosphere, and when they fall to the ground, they absorb heat there too, thus magnifying their warming effect.

   Fertilizers used in farming have had far-reaching effects. Their use has injected vast amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous into regional ecosystems.120 million tons of nitrogen are removed from the atmosphere each year and 20 million tons of phosphorous is mined from the ground in order to produce fertilizer to be used for farming. These practices add a tremendous amount of nitrogen and phosphorus to the biosphere than would occur naturally. Runoff from farmland often carries large amounts of fertilizer into rivers and streams that eventually drain into the sea. All of this fertilizer runoff creates rapidly expanding marine dead zones

Technological development has led to the invention of new materials, such as plastics, that were previously unknown to the planet. Many of these new materials are made up of chemical compounds that can remain active in the environment for thousands of years and have lasting impacts on the delicate regulatory cycles and ecosystems. At high concentrations, these chemicals can disrupt animal endocrine systems, alter reproduction patterns, and cause cancer. Organic pollutants and plastic-derived endocrine disruptors have been discovered in low concentrations all over the world, even in areas where they’ve never been used, such as Antarctica and at the bottom of the oceans.

According to Current Biology Magazine’s ‘Not so many fish in the sea’(2017),  “The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which is under the purview of the United Nations, estimates that in 1950 the amount of fish landed worldwide amounted to 19.3 million tons. That figure had increased to 93.4 million tons in 2014, meaning we are pulling about five times as much fish out of our rivers, lakes, and oceans”.

      The long-lived, late reproducing, and low fecundity life histories of many deep-sea organisms increase vulnerability to multiple human pressures and global climate change. Low rates of replacement result in extreme sensitivity to fishing pressure, and weak currents and the absence of wave action result in sometimes fragile organisms that are easily damaged by bottom-contact fishing gear, which now penetrates to thousands of meters depth. Richard (2010) noted, “Deepwater Horizon oil spill, also called Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the largest marine oil spill in history, caused by an April 20, 2010”. The Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico clearly demonstrated not only the increasing range of environments in which extraction occurs but also the ecological aftermath cations of major blowouts for deep-sea fauna. Deepsea mining, while still in its infancy, necessarily destroys habitat, whether it concerns extracting polymetallic sulfides at hydrothermal vent chimneys, cobalt-rich crusts from seamounts, or manganese nodules from abyssal sediments. But the global footprint of climate change represents the single greatest concern regarding human impacts on ocean environments, largely through indirect effects.

  Most deep-sea environments depend largely on surface production, climate change effects on surface processes will alter deep-sea ecosystems globally with evidence of change already happening. Such changes can significantly affect the growth rates, survival, and recruitment of deep-sea organisms with severe consequences for the potential recovery of deep-sea assemblages compounded by other effects of human activities listed above. These consequences can compromise the success of restoration actions in deep-sea ecosystems affected by different anthropogenic pressures. At the same time, the projected increase in temperature and decrease in oxygen and pH in the deep ocean under present climate change scenarios could have additional detrimental impacts on the metabolism of deep-sea organisms, which appear more sensitive than shallow-water counterparts to any change in environmental conditions. The response of deep-sea life to global changes will depend on the ability of these organisms to adapt to altered conditions and to maintain their biological interactions with other living components. This is the reason  we should make a special effort to expand the knowledge of their biology, from their physiology and symbiotic interactions to the factors controlling food webs and the dispersal of deep-sea organisms. The additive effects of human pressures and global climate change are still almost completely unknown and can be addressed only by increasing knowledge on basic and system biology of deep-sea ecosystems and through a better understanding of the complex biological interactions that enable their efficient functioning.


By Jerelle O’Brien

As the end of this project is nearing, I am researching less content and producing more of it instead. In doing all these research and reading blog posts on climate change and the different topics that are focused on in digital humanities, I have taken a heightened interest in these areas and have become more self aware of cases around me where I can see needs improvement. I have also been lured to read posts on social media relating to these things and I never thought I would but this project encouraged me too.

Digital humanities, its projects and its principles combines the age and use of technology to educate and reach people on a wide scale involving matters that are affecting the world now and the future.

So far, I have created three different story maps in an effort to better understand what I want to accomplish for my project. I am still getting used to the software but I am making progress in putting in the information in order to have a complete, wholesome presentation. In my view that would include all things relevant to my topic shown in a way that is easy to comprehend for the benefit of viewers.

These projects and research is something that should be done out of moral obligation and not by force. In present day there are easy ways to get informed, so we must utilize that to stay on top of all things happening around us in order to not fail at life.

Ocean Acidification

By: Melissa Santiago

Ocean Acidification

  The issue of ocean acidification is simple chemistry. There are two important things to when carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater. First, the pH of seawater water gets lower as it becomes more acidic. Second, this process binds up carbonate ions and makes them less abundant ions that corals, oysters, mussels, and many other shelled organisms need to build shells and skeletons. When water (H2O) and CO2 mix, they combine to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). Carbonic acid is weak compared to some of the well-known acids that break down solids, such as hydrochloric acid (the main ingredient in gastric acid, which digests food in your stomach) and sulfuric acid (the main ingredient in car batteries, which can burn your skin with just a drop). The weaker carbonic acid may not act as quickly, but it works the same way as all acids: it releases hydrogen ions (H+), which bond with other molecules in the area. The lower the pH, the more acidic the solution. It’s hard to say what the level of impact would mean for different organisms; a 10% rate could be no problem for some species, but for other more sensitive species it could mean one step closer to local extinction, ( Azevedo, De Schryver, Hendriks, Huijbregts, 2015).

   Like calcium ions, hydrogen ions tend to bond with carbonate but they have a greater attraction to carbonate than calcium. When a hydrogen bond with carbonate, a bicarbonate ion (HCO3-) is formed. Shell-building organisms can’t extract the carbonate ion they need from bicarbonate, preventing them from using that carbonate to grow a new shell. In this way, the hydrogen essentially binds up the carbonate ions, making it harder for shelled animals to build their homes. Even if animals are able to build skeletons in more acidic water, they may have to spend more energy to do so, taking away resources from other activities like reproduction. If there are too many hydrogen ions around and not enough molecules for them to bond with, they can even begin breaking existing calcium carbonate molecules apart, dissolving shells that already exist.

   “The ocean has to be one of the things greatly affected by global warming and climate change since it has to take up about 50% of anthropogenic CO2”(Wikipedia, 2018). This affects the level of oxygen thus the life of organisms in the ecosystem contaminated. The increase in the level of CO2 is a factor that contributes to the acidity of the ocean. The rise in acidity affects the production of organisms shrimps and corals by a process called calcifications. Corals reefs provide an ecosystem for one-quarter of marine life. The death of coral reefs leads to fish migration. Fish migration is the moving from one part of a water body to another. There are many factors which contribute to fish migration but the rise in the temperature of the sea water

due to global warming has now become one. This migration would then affect fishermen and everyone who benefits from marine life directly or indirectly.

  Azevedo (2015) explain, “Calcifying species are indispensable for ecosystems worldwide: they provide nursery habitats for fish, food for marine predators, and natural defenses for storms and erosion. These species are also particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification triggered by increased fossil fuel emissions”.

  Fossil fuel emissions are the gases that are spewed out of most cars, airplanes, power plants, and factories that are burning fossil fuels (coal, oil or gas).  Since the industrial revolution, fossil fuel consumption has risen exponentially to create many climates change-related issues, including ocean acidification. Deforestation is a two-fold issue.  Burning down forests is similar to burning fossil fuels, it emits a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Forests are important because large expanses of plant life (even in the ocean) are known to be ‘carbon sinks’,  taking in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Historically, carbon dioxide levels have been balanced; the CO2 being produced was, in turn, being absorbed. Deforestation not only creates more CO2, but it also destroys one of the very things that helps absorb it.

For the coming week I plan on doing research on how human actives are affecting our Home.


By Jerelle O’Brien

I have begun my work on my story map for my research topic. I am using the knight lab software so far which makes it easy to understand what you are doing. As of now, I am experimenting with the options presented to me so that I can gain more understanding of the process and what I want my map to look like.

Software’s such as knight lab aids in the development of projects to present information in a meaningful way and to promote quality journalism, storytelling and content.

With the use of story map, I can achieve the presentation of my idea and research to help,  guide and inform others. My goal is so that others can see, in one viewing, the progressiveness of the impacts of natural disasters on the Caribbean’s food and water security over the past 10 years. And that from this, a light can be sparked in the mind of every viewer so that they can realize the detrimental effects of climate change and will feel the need to do something. Suggestions needs to be made and aims to climate resiliency needs to be fully accomplished. Because, if something isn’t done to slow this down, there will not be a far future and the future to come, will not experience any of the benefits that we know today.

In my ethics class, we learnt about the principles for environmental protection and one of the key ones which can be applied is ‘Intergenerational equity’. This rule demands that each generation be awarded equal benefits and insists one generation may justly enjoy certain  benefits only if those advantages can be sustained for subsequent generations as well. This means that, unless we can reverse the action to prevent the impedance to an advantage or future generations’ experience of certain advantages are secure, then the action should not be done.

Climate Change

By: Melissa Santiago

For the fourth week working on Marine Life and Global Warming I mainly focus on finding more information on the different factors that affect our marine life and also global warming.

Oceans cover about 70% of the earth and support an incredible variety of life, including the world’s largest mammal, the Blue Whale. The oceans are a significant source of oxygen for our planet and are instrumental in the capture and storage of carbon dioxide. Marine species provide important ecosystem services such as the provision of food, medicines, and livelihoods. They also support tourism and recreational activities around the world. This is all changing due to the impact that climate change, ocean acidification, and human activities are having on marine life and global warming.

Climate Change

   Climate change is the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time. It includes precipitation, temperature and wind pattern. Some of the factors that affect climate change are the burning of fossil fuels and converting of land from forests to agriculture. The dominant product of fossil fuel combustion is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gas is a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. Carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other substances are climate forcers because they force or push the climate towards being warmer or cooler. They do this by affecting the flow of energy coming into and leaving the earth’s climate system. Small changes in the sun’s energy that reaches the earth can cause some climate change. But what if instead of this climate changes occurring in a long period of time it occurs in a few years how will the things of this planet be able to adapt? To answer this question, life on this planet is not responding too well to this sudden change in the climate. Some species may not adapt fast enough, which might lead to their extinction.

 The change of the location of areas with high primary productivity  is caused by change in temperatures. Primary producers, such as plankton, are the main food source for marine mammals such as some whales. Species migration will, therefore, be directly affected by locations of high primary productivity. Water temperature changes also affect ocean turbulence, which has a major impact on the dispersion of plankton and other primary producers. Due to global warming and increased glacier melt, Thermohaline circulation patterns may be altered by increasing amounts of freshwater released into oceans and, therefore, changing ocean salinity. Thermohaline circulation is responsible for bringing up cold, nutrient-rich water from the depths of the ocean, a process known as upwelling (US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration, 2013).

   Polar bears are one of the marine mammals that are most at risk due to climate change (Alastair, 2019). The biggest issue for polar bears related to climate change is the melting of ice as a result of increasing temperatures. When the ice melts, polar bears lose their habitat and food sources. Although polar bears have been known to eat more than 80 species of animals, most of their diet consists of seals, which are also endangered by global warming. There has been an increasing number of polar bear drownings because they become exhausted by having to swim farther to find ice or prey. Marine mammals have evolved to live in oceans, but climate change is affecting their natural habitat (Wikipedia, 2019). The rate at which climate change is occurring is too fast and doesn’t allow the animal time for them to evolve; adapt to the changes in the environment.Short-term climate change impacts on aquaculture can include losses of production and infrastructure arising from extreme events such as floods, increased risks of diseases, parasites and harmful algal blooms. Long-term impacts can include reduced availability of wild seed as well as reduced precipitation leading to increasing competition for freshwater. “World Bank estimates suggest the annual damage to countries within the Caribbean community caused by climate change will rise to US$11 billion by 2080 – a staggering 11 percent of the region’s collective GDP” (Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, 2017).  One of the many impacts of climate change is on food safety, for example through changes in the growth rates of pathogenic marine bacteria, or on the incidence of parasites and food-borne viruses. Climate

For the fifth week i plan on working on
Ocean acidification. How it’s affect the Caribbean region.

Project update- week 5

By Alaina Mathew

This week I decided to narrow down my topic by removing a certain area of study. Initially, I intended to map out houses, businesses and farming grounds that were affected by Hurricane Maria. I have come to realise, however that it would not be possible to map every house that has been damaged by the hurricane, since Salisbury is a large community. Moving forward, I will be focusing on mapping local businesses and farming grounds affected by the hurricane. I also began telling my project story through storymap using knightlab. I faced many problems as it was very difficult to pinpoint specific budings in the village of Salisbury since it’s a large area to cover. Even locating churches and restaurants posed a major issue. I came to a realisation that the Storymap DH tool was not able to execute my topic in the way that I desired. Initially, I had the intention to map multiple locations on each slide, under different categories. I was unable to do this because storymap creates an animation with a movement from locations (kind of like a timeline). This is when i decided to execute my project with a different tool. With the help of Dr. Esprit I was able to map my locations using Google maps. I created a rough draft of what i wanted in order to familiarize myself with the tool. It was much easier to operate and navigate than storymap. I was able to get clear images of the community of Salisbury, enabling me to pinpoint specifc locations without having to estimate distances. I was also able to add layers based on the category that i was focusing on. For example (one layer for businesses damaged by the hurricane, and another layer for farming grounds affected.) I intend to finish it within a few days.

For the upcoming week, and the next, I intend to interview a few local farmers and business owners on the economic strain on farming and businesses since Hurricane Maria. In this way, I will be able to receive information from the direct source (primary source). I will also try to complete the storymap, and find alternative methods to present my data.

Carisealand Project update

By Shalian Shaw

For the past week I found it a bit tedious to work on my project. After visiting the office of the Forestry, Wildlife and National Parks Division, I now had the task of analyzing the information I was given and picking the information I may use in my project.

While analyzing, I identified the answer to one of my questions “How does the damaging of forests during natural disasters impact human survival ?”. One example of this is the deforestation caused by intensified natural disaster, due to climate change, puts many areas at risk for landslides. Because of this many people have to relocate.

For one of my other questions “Have any new species been observed in animals and plants in the past few years in Dominica?” I have not really found any information.

While researching I stumbled upon some info for another question “What examples are there of how wildlife adapted to the changing climate ?”. Although I did not quite find all what I was looking for. From the information that I was presented with I also realized that I may have to visit the office or perhaps even the archives for other important information that I did not obtain.

I also started gathering pictures throughout the last week, which was a relatively  easy task.

In the upcoming week I aim to continue learning more about the tools and continue assembling my project. I also intend on possibly revisiting the office or the national archives.

Food Maps Update 3

by Kieron Clunes

As I proceed further into my data gathering, my steady progress has been called to a halt. For the past few weeks I have been looking at the DEXIA client database of farmers. This database was at the very heart of my project as it provided me with not only the physical locations of the mass client farms under the Dominica Export Import Agency, but it also provided me with the relevant contact for the farmers in charge. If an interview was to be included in my project, this information would have been very vital to my cause.

However, I have just recently found out that there may be a great possibility that this information, i.e. the farms, their physical locations, owners and contact information, is out of date. Using the dates of publisment of the last few news articles on the website as the driving factor to my revelation, I have placed myself in a position where I must go out again in search of a more reliable source of information. I intend to make a visit to the main DEXIA building in search of my data and I hope to find more than I anticipated.

Food Maps Update 2

by Kieron Clunes

As I end the second week of my “Food Map” project, I can confidently say that I am beginning to get a hang of using the ArcGIS Mapping software. I’ve already completed many mini test projects to further confirm that this software will be able to complete the task I’ve set out for myself.

I’ve also learnt that the data I seek may already be collected and that I may have access to it. The Dominica Export Import Agency (DEXIA) is a public sector institution and is responsible for the development of Dominica’s market for agricultural and agro-processed products. After doing some research, I have found the client database that belongs to DEXIA provides the exact information that I need with the inclusion of extra data that may help develop my project further. I intend to look more into the information provided to me in hopes of finally being able to implement this data with the ArcGIS software.

Project update #4: A forestry visit

By Shalian Shaw

During the past week, I did as much work as possible relating to my project. I engaged in some research pertaining to my project topic. I also visited the office of the Forestry, Wildlife and National Parks Division to investigate the changes of our forests over the past few years which may be a result of climate change.

At the office I was presented with two reports concerning the wildlife and biodiversity of Dominicas forests. One was “The impact of climate change on forest reserves and water sources.” . This contained some information which I already knew, but also had some information which was new to me. Particular things which interested me were the protected areas and why they were protected. For example the emerald pool is protected because a Parrot Research Team checks the developments of nesting parrots in that area. The other was a report on Dominica’s terrestrial biodiversity. This provided a lot of information about plants and animals endemic to Dominica. It included pictures of all the flora and fauna and it was fascinating to see some animals I had never even heard of before.

Once again while conducting my online research I found it quite difficult to obtain a vast amount of information about Dominica and by extension the Caribbean. After searching through numerous pages and even changing the search words I came up with very little, which was again frustrating. Most articles pertaining the effects of climate change on the biodiversity of forests and wildlife were based on studies done in the US.

In the upcoming week I aim to continue my research. I have to also try to learn more about the tools and start assembling my project. I intend on gathering pictures and selecting relevant information from what I have gathered.