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studying resiliency on a shrinking island

by Camy Kelly

Nov 30 2018

Field Journal 8

The Island of Tangier located off the shore of Crisfield, Maryland, is a small and rather poor, but happy community. However, this island is in danger. It is extremely close to sea level, and on top of this, tides have been rising, which is slowly washing away the island that the locals have come to love for generations. I have never been to Tangier before, and we did go during a storm and a high tide I will admit, but this does not change the fact that the island is in danger. From looking at maps from over the years, this island that once was whole has lost an extreme amount of land due to what the locals call erosion, but what I call climate change and sea level rise.

We were challenged on the trip to put our feet into the shoes of the locals though and see how erosion could be contributing to the loss of land. On the west side of the island there was sea wall put in to guard the land from the wind that was hitting it in a really strong way, and that was where they were losing the most land. So all signs point to it being natural and caused from wind and larger waves.

However, things that pointed to sea level rise from climate change most likely, was the fact that all over the island, even inland, there were puddles that were just sitting there. Along with this, the tide was level with the dock on Port Isabel (CBF’s residential environmental education facility) which was extremely abnormal. Another thing is the fact that when we went canoeing, we did not have to drag the canoes anywhere, we could simply pull them off of the rack and they would be in the knee deep water that was overtop of grass and dirt. This indicated towards sea level rise more than anything, because that does not happen simply because of erosion. Though I put myself into the shoes of others I still am confident that the island is sinking due to sea level rise.