Despite international focus on how to facilitate adaptation to climate change, a good deal of adaptation will, inevitably, be enacted by households and communities at the local level. This paper provides an account of adaptation among villages in a south Indian fishery. Pulicat lagoon is presented as a system of dynamic environmental trends and shocks. An analysis of livelihood diversification, illustrates that some households are more adaptable to environmental change than others. Unexpectedly, it is not the poorest who are the least able to adapt, but rather fishers who have become locked into an overly specialised fishery.