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.


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.

A silent sufferer? – By Kodie Jean-Jacques

Oftentimes, members of the Dominican populace posit that Dominica isn’t a real place. Though this may be said jokingly, over the past week, I discovered that this far-fetched belief may hold some truth especially as it relates to the poverty margins.

In doing research on my topic throughout the week, I was taken aback by how many people lived in poverty. According to the UNDP,  in Dominica, 29% of households and 40% of the general population lived in poverty as per 2003. 11% of households and 15% of the general population lived in indigent poverty. An average of 50% of Dominica’s children live in poverty.

This survey was taken before the passages of the devastating natural calamities – Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria. As a result, it can only be inferred that the poverty rates would be even higher now.

Why many people jokingly postulate that Dominica is surreal in nature is that that members of the broad middle class seem to be strangely unbothered and accepting of the disturbingly inadequate living and working environments. It’s truly a bitter-sweet feeling to know that inhabitants of this beautiful island are so poor, yet they seem to really enjoy life.

However, in this project, I will be primarily focussing on poverty within the St. George area which is approximately 20%. Quoting from a journal published in 2009 by Kairi Consultants Ltd.  titled “Country Poverty Assessment – Dominica : Reducing poverty in the face of vulnerability”. “As a result of difficulties encountered in finding formal employment in Roseau, there were many references on the part of both men and women, to considering participating in the underground economy to make ends meet.”

In this same journal, a recorded conversation between a mother and her teenage daughter  notes the mother saying: “…go and sell what God give you so you can pay for the exam.” Though this conversation may seem harsh, I assure you that teenage girls are mandated to perform sexual deeds for money quite frequently. Money for food….money for clothes…..money for school….money for basic necessities….

In this next week, I plan on looking into the environmental justice aspect of the project even though I have been having problems in obtaining such information.

Our planet, Our problem.


B. Melissa E. Santiago

For the second week focused on our project, I interviewed three individuals who are affected by the effect that global warming is having on our marine life. These individuals all have a different lifestyle and all are impacted in different ways by this.

The first individual I spoke to was a fisherman from Portsmouth. One of the things I learned from him was that there is a difficulty in catching fishes other than “bala-w”. That wasn’t the only concerning thing but also the size of the fish being caught. This fish can be found everywhere because of it demand due to its cheap price; at the moment it’s being over fished which can lead to a fast decrease in its population. He spoke about how they have to travel greater distances to catch fishes but with the boats local fishermen here have its very dangerous.

Fg.1. Balaw

The second individual I interview was a hotel and restaurant owner who spoke about the struggle to get a variety of fish which his customers are accustomed to being served at his restaurant. He told me that he hasn’t been able to get any lobsters for about two weeks now. This being one of his best-sellers and a tourist favorite.we also spoke about the effect that hurricane Maria and tropical storm Erica had on his business and how much fish he managed to get around that time. He said he was able to get more fishes after maria than he is now

The third person I spoke to is a landlord at Picard. Who consumes mainly fish and has also been struggling to get it. This individual isn’t benefited economically by marine life but is still being affected by the changes our marine life is having.

I interviewed this person to show that not only are fishermen and coastal region inhabitant being affected by the effect that global warming is having but everyone in our society. This is our problem, and we all have to try to find a way to stop harming our planet so much. Whether we affect it when we use too many fertilizers which then run off to our oceans when rainfall and contaminates our waters or by simply turning on our A.C when we could go outside and enjoy the breeze. This is our planet making these issues our problem and furthermore, our children’s problem that We have created. What Marine life will they enjoy if we destroy all?

I believe we need to educate people more about the problem that global warming is causing and how we can help stop or at least slow it down. This information I found when searching about Dominica’s marine life and what is affecting it.

” There are few things we have a lot of in Dominica: sunshine, salt water and more recently sargassum seaweed and driftwood. Sargassum seaweed seems to be building up in the area and impacting our nesting beaches. The influx of seaweed and is likely caused by climate change shifting the ocean’s currents, sending offshore algal blooms from Brazil (caused by nutrient runoff) into Caribbean waters. The beaches last nesting season were inundated with sargassum, making it very difficult for both nesting turtles to build a nests and for hatchlings to emerge from their nests after hatching.”
https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/dominicaturtles

This is a story about five men who were charged for slaughtering a
“a young female nesting leatherback sea turtle” in 2010.This shows that there are rules put in place to protect our endangered species.

http://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/crime-court-law/man-charged-for-slaughtered-turtle/

https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/dominicaturtles