Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 547–558 | Cite as

At the Sea’s Edge: Elders and Children in the Littorals of Barbados and the Bahamas

  • Brent W. Stoffle
  • Richard W. StoffleEmail author


Littorals in the in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas and the Bath Plantation, Barbados are comparative in many ways. These edges of the sea have provided critical services to local people during the time of slavery and since. More than food and medicine, the littoral is the nightly sea bath, where children are instructed, and the last ecosystem effectively used by the elderly. Independence and self-respect derive from use and protection of these littoral by individuals and communities. Local patterns of conservation and use are argued to be essential in the ecological structure and functions of the littoral. Development projects and marine protected areas alike are seen as potentially breaking local ties with the littoral causing trophic skew and damaging local society. If development occurs, mitigation solutions potentially derive from legally recognizing local people as partners in the co-management of their traditional littoral.

Key words

Marine protected areas social impact assessment traditional coastal communities co-adaptation environmental conservation 



The Bahamas interdisciplinary study was funded by an NSF biocomplexity grant entitled “Coupled Natural and Human Dynamics in Coral Reef Ecosystems” which was awarded September 2001 as number OCE 0119978. The overall research team was headed by Dr. Daniel Brumbaugh of the American Museum of Natural History. The College of the Bahamas team was headed by Jessica Minnis, Chairperson, School of Social Science, at The College of the Bahamas. Her students included Kendra Arnett, Chervain Dean, Tarah McDonald, Ward Minnis, Tavarrie Smith, and Yasmin Skinner. The University of Arizona team was headed by Richard Stoffle who was joined during the last two field session by Chuck Bollong. Their students included Graduate Assistant Alex Carroll and Clinton Carroll, Fletcher Chmara-Huff, Jill Dumbauld, Richard Gilmour, Arin Haverland, Cory Jones, Shawn Kelley, Noreen Lyell, Aja Martinez, Nathaniel O’Meara, Kathryn Payne, Terra Pierce, Peter Poer, Daniel Post, and Kathleen Van Vlack.

The Barbados study, conducted by Brent Stoffle, was funded by an AT&T Community Development Grant, the Latin American and Caribbean Initiative at the University of South Florida and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The study was supervised by professors Trevor Purcell, Susan Greenbaum, Kevin Yelvington, Cheryl Rodriguez, and Michael Conniff.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami Facility, NOAA, NMFSMiamiUSA

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