Thursday, September 4, 2014

BZS Reef Watch - Methods Manual

The Reef Watch - Methods Manual is available as a pdf at this link: LINK

Thursday, April 24, 2014

BREAM team receives a Catlin Marine Grant award to carry out 3 years of reef erosion studies

Catlin Marine Grant Awards Funds to Three Local Charities

…funds will continue scientific research into Bermuda’s coral reefs, and tackle waste on Bermuda shorelines

Hamilton, Bermuda, April 24, 2013.

The Bermuda End-to-End today announced three recipients for its new Catlin Marine Grant, a three-year initiative to support charitable programmes aimed at raising awareness of, and preserving and protecting Bermuda’s marine environment.

“We are very excited to announce three local charities who will receive support from this new award,” said Graham Pewter, CEO and President of Catlin Bermuda. “The goal for the three-year life of the Catlin Marine Grant is to encourage projects which have measurable outcomes and are sustainable over time.

“It was our wish, in creating this $100,000 grant, to support meaningful initiatives within the local charitable and scientific community. We are pleased to be able to fulfill this.”

The Catlin Marine Grant evolved from the reef-mapping work undertaken by the Catlin Seaview Survey, a series of worldwide scientific expeditions launched by Catlin in 2012 to document the composition and health of the world’s coral reefs.

“A total of nine charities made applications for funds from the Catlin Marine Grant,” said Anne Mello, Chair of the End-to-End Charitable Trust. “We were able to settle on three deserving projects, run by established organizations, which together meet the goals of the grant.”

The three awardees were: the Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis and Monitoring Programme (BREAM) at the Bermuda Zoological Society; the Bermuda National Trust; and Keep Bermuda Beautiful.

The largest award – which will span three years – will support BREAM, a scientific research effort to build detailed information about Bermuda’s coral reefs. Over the past several decades, there has been a dramatic decline in the health of coral reef systems globally. Bermuda is one of the few remaining locations with relatively healthy reefs, which serve as an important indicator of global reef health and provide a setting where reef plants and animals survive.

In the past 5 years the BREAM team have mapped all coral reefs across the Bermuda Platform to a Geographic Information System database, and made its data available to the public.

“The BREAM study dovetails well with the goals of the Catlin Seaview Survey,” said Mr. Pewter.

Funding from the Catlin Marine Grant, he added, will develop local capacity to monitor the growth potential of Bermuda’s reefs, to determine local threats to reef growth and find ways to better manage these threats. The concentration will be on the outer rim of the reefs surrounding Bermuda.

Two smaller grants were awarded to:
The Bermuda National Trust to pay for 10 new special waste bins for fishing lines, as part of its Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Programme. Currently, there are 12 bins in use that control fishing line waste at popular onshore fishing locations.

Keep Bermuda Beautiful, to support its “Washed Ashore Project” which consists of beach surveys to measure marine plastic stranded on Bermuda’s shorts and to create marine science educational materials to be used in Bermuda’s schools.

The Catlin Marine Grant new initiative stands alongside the funds raised for other Bermuda charities by Catlin End-to-End participants in the May 3, 2014 Island-wide event. Each year, the event raises up to $250,000 to support local good works.

About the Catlin Seaview Survey:
The Catlin Seaview Survey is a pioneering scientific expedition revealing more than ever before the impact of environmental changes on the world’s coral reefs. The Survey aims to significantly expand the data available to scientists about global coral reef systems. The Catlin Seaview Survey launched in late 2012 with its groundbreaking scientific study of the Great Barrier Reef and in 2013 work was undertaken on Bermuda’s reef system.

The 360-degree panoramic images taken by the Catlin Seaview Survey are being used to create a vital scientific baseline study of the reef that can be used to monitor change, as well as being used to reveal it to the world through Street View in Google Maps - in partnership with Google. More information about the Catlin Seaview Survey can be found at: .

About the Catlin End-to-End:
The Catlin End-to-End’s mission is to be Bermuda’s premier annual charitable pledge event, committed to promoting the happiness and well-being of our island community through all-inclusive activities. The event is organized by the Bermuda End-to-End Charitable Trust and sponsored by numerous local businesses. The 27th event will take place May 3.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Reef Watch 2013 - the printed press so far

Underwater survey: Reef Watch teammates Caroline Stockdale, left, and Bermuda Sun reporter Sarah Lagan, survey a reef located at a reef system about eight miles North East of Spanish Point. Photo from the Bermuda Sun - by Chris Burville

Click the headlines to see the original articles!

Royal Gazette

By Jessie Moniz Hardy
Published Aug 19, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm)

By Alyssa Brewer
Published Aug 28, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 27, 2013 at 11:17 pm)

Bermuda Sun

Sarah Lagan, Sub-editor/Writer
 Wednesday, August 28, 2013 8:40 AM

 Sarah Lagan, Sub-editor/Writer
 Wednesday, September 04, 2013 9:25 AM

Sarah Lagan, Sub-editor/Writer
Friday, September 06, 2013 8:55 AM


August 19, 2013

August 26, 2013 

September 6, 2013 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reef Watch: Empowering citizens to monitor Bermuda's reefs and fishes

Bermuda’s coral reefs are vital to the persistence of our economy and wellbeing. Living coral reefs act as a self-healing protective sea wall, blocking storm waves from destroying our fragile limestone shoreline and the coastal infrastructure we built along its edge. Our tourism industry relies on the beauty and charisma of our island; contributed substantially by the many recreational and aesthetic opportunities provided by the coral reefs around us. An economic evaluation of the lagoonal reef, which represents half of the entire reef system, found that $750,000,000 to $1,250,000,000 are contributed to Bermuda’s economy annually by the reefs of Bermuda. It is strongly in our interests to ensure that the coral reef system that protects and sustains our lives is itself protected from the extensive harm that can be caused by bad human behaviour such as overfishing, dredging, shipping traffic and the global environmental threats of climate change and ocean acidification.

Creole wrasse flit over a healthy coral reef in the North Lagoon.
[click photo to enlarge]
 Not only are our reefs critical to our survival, they are also extremely fragile. Coral reefs around the world have been in decline since the 1980s. Bermuda is literally one of three coral reefs left in good shape in the Caribbean, and the other two are now showing signs of decline.

On the left is a healthy South Shore reef. On the right is an
unhealthy reef in Bermuda located near a shallow polluted bay.
Notice that the healthy reef has lots of structure and holes
for fish to hide in, while the unhealthy reef is very flat
and covered in algae, and with few places for fish to live.
[click photo to enlarge]

Bermuda’s coral reef ecosystem covers an expanse of 750 sq. km. Despite this substantial extent, monitoring of coral reef status and fish abundance used to only be assessed at a small number of isolated locations, primarily at the east end of the island. It is impossible to manage a large complex system like our coral reef when we have no idea of neither its baseline state nor its continuing status through time.

In order to directly address the lack of information about the state of our coral reefs and associated marine ecosystems, I started the Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Mapping Programme in 2004. Since then my team of Bermudian and international scientists and I have mapped and quantified the distribution and ecological condition of coral reefs, seagrass beds and other marine habitats across the entire Bermuda reef platform from the shore to a depth of 130ft. The data collected by BREAM is unique, in providing not only the only accurate map of the distribution of reefs as both submerged rocks and as critical habitat, but also in providing the much-needed baseline by which future resource management and conservation action can be guided and assessed for success.
By surveying reef sites across the entire Bermuda reef platform,
BREAM can determine the distribution of healthy and unhealthy
reefs - the first step in managing impacts and restoring
damaged areas. We also have assessed fish populations at all 180 sites.
[click map to enlarge]

Moving forward it is vital that Bermuda’s fishes and marine habitats are continually monitored for ecological health. It is also of extreme importance that we make Bermudians aware of both the vitality of Bermuda’s reef system, and its extreme fragility. The best way to do so is to empower Bermudians to be able to accurately assess the condition of coral reefs and fishes themselves, so they are no longer solely reliant upon research scientists nor the government to provide the reef health information that so directly affects all of our lives.

Together we can build a growing movement of interested citizen scientists who look after our favourite playground, striving toward a clean, healthy and abundant ocean. 

For Reef Watch, my BREAM team have developed an inexpensive, simple, non-invasive method for the monitoring of fish species and assessment of coral health. Fish sightings can be recorded directly on the REEF WATCH slate that has been specifically designed for underwater use and includes a colour guide to the target fish species.

A map of the 53 sites we will help Reef Watch citizen scientists
survey for fish and reef health.
[click map to enlarge]

All submitted data will be made available on the BZS website ( ) and from this  BREAM Blog (Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis and Monitoring Programme My team of Bermudian reef scientists will evaluate the volunteer results and compare the health metrics from their reef surveys with our past BREAM data from each reef site; making it possible to compare many different reefs at any one point in time, as well as a single reef over time.

Stay tuned to the Reef Watch page [here], and watch the BREAM blog for more updates after Cup Match on how to join the Reef Watch team of ocean scientists . Together we can protect the reefs and fishes, so they can keep our island beautiful and safe.

Dr. Thaddeus Murdoch
Chief Scientist - BREAM
tmurdoch [at]