Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Coral Spawning Slicks Take Over South Shore

We were out surveying coral reefs on Monday and saw many MASSIVE slicks of coral spawn along the South Shore. Each slick was composed of what must have been millions of coral larvae. With the calm winds of the past few days hopefully the larvae will stay around the island and make it back to the reefs where they can start the next generation of coral reefs!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gone diving - not much time for blogging

A juvenile Four-eyed Butterfly Fish living on an Oculina coral head.

Sorry for the slow rate of change on the weblog.

We are out doing research dives most days until after 6pm.

Will put out updates as often as possible.

Thanks for reading our blog. More soon!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

BREAM in the news again

The BREAM programme was described in the Royal Gazette newspaper today.

Here is the link - here

Many thanks to Amanda Dale for writing a great article about the BREAM programme, and to Chris Burville for taking such sporty photographs!

BREAM: Who we are and What we do


The Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Mapping Programme

BREAM represents the marine side of the Bermuda Biodiversity Project (BBP) at the Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS).

The Bermuda Biodiveristy Project is the umbrella name for all research at the BAMZ facility, including projects conducted in conjunction with other organisations. The BBP goals are to initiate and coordinate a comprehensive local and international effort to catalogue all of Bermuda's flora and fauna, forming the basis for the sustainable use of the Island's living resources.

The BZS was created to enhance the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo for the benefit of Bermuda, its residents and visitors. The Bermuda Government provides continuous support of the physical plant and operational needs, while the BZS, a not-for-profit organisation, supports the development, education and research programmes at BAMZ, and organises special exhibits and activities for the community.

The aims of BREAM are:

A) To support multidisciplinary studies of Bermuda’s coral reef complex in order to enhance the research and management of our unique marine environment. This is accomplished in several ways:

* through direct, targeted studies by the resident team to address management/research needs;
* by encouraging collaborative ventures with other local or visiting scientists;
* by providing logistic support to other researchers;
* by securing funds for specific projects to be undertaken either by the resident team, or in collaboration with overseas scientists;
* and by sharing all information with the scientific community through databases, publications, workshop and conferences.

B) To properly document and orchestrate data collection, management and sharing through the development of a GIS framework in order to promote improved local, regional and international understanding of coral reef systems. This is accomplished by:

* collating all available historical information; by establishing standards for data collection;
* by sharing information;
* by encouraging the adoption of policies by the Environment Ministry through which local and visiting research studies can be tracked to ensure that a copy of all findings is secured locally.

C) To integrate the resource managers, the scientific community and the users in the management processes to define common goals and to recognize the significant pressures and conflicts that are placed upon our marine environment. This is accomplished through:

* specific workshops held locally with representatives of all stakeholder groups, building upon the framework of the Bermuda Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

D) To promote a range of public awareness programmes, with the goal of promoting care of our unique coral reef ecosystem. This is accomplished both directly through:

* publications;
* media articles;
* local television;
* via the Education team of the Bermuda Zoological Society

Monday, August 11, 2008

A bed of nails??? What are we up to now?

By Brittany Huntington, Doctoral Student, RMSAS Univ. of Miami and BREAM summer graduate intern, funded by ACP

These terracotta tiles imbedded with nails are actually part of a larger experiment we are currently undertaking to explore the impact of herbivorous fishes on the recruitment and settlement success of young corals.

Bermuda is unique in the world for protecting its herbivorous fish communities through a now 30-year-old ban on fish pot. As a result, there are conspicuous bands of large-bodied parrotfishes and surgeonfishes roving over the reef of Bermuda and grazing down the standing macroalgal biomass on the reefs.

While healthy stocks of herbivorous fishes have been hailed as the key to preventing macroalgal phase shifts on coral reefs worldwide, little is known about how healthy, robust populations of the herbivores will impact the survival of young coral recruits.

By manipulating the fish access to our terracotta settlement tiles, we hope to better understand the role of large-bodied parrotfishes and the grazing fish community at large on the settlement and survival of coral recruits. This experiment will last just over a year in duration, ending in the fall of 2009.

We hope results from this study will emphasize the need to look at herbivorous fish influences on coral communities across the multiple coral life stages and potentially make an argument for protecting not only the herbivorous fishes themselves, but also the predators of this herbivore guild to help maintain controlled populations up the trophic system.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Clod cards are what??

By Brittany Huntington, Doctoral Student, RMSAS Univ. of Miami and BREAM summer graduate intern, funded by ACP

What are these? Fossilized marshmallows? White chocolate petite fours? No no…this is real science people!

This abundance of ice cube shaped trapezoids are nicknamed “clod cards”: a simple yet effective way to measure water movement as a proxy for current and flow exposure at underwater sites (developed by Doty et al., 1971).

The mechanism is straight-forward. These plaster of paris ‘clods’ are all identical in composition, shape and size. Each clod should therefore dissolve slowly underwater at a constant rate.

By weighing the dry clod cards before deployment, leaving them underwater for a fixed time period (usually between 24-48 hours) and then collecting them and re-weighing each clod, we can determine the precise weight of plaster of paris lost from each card. Clods losing more weight were exposed to greater water flow than cards exposed to less water flow.

I am a visiting graduate student to Bermuda for the month, working with Thad on patch reef dynamics. By comparing the loss of clods at two depths (2m and 4m) on patch reefs across my study region, I can better understand the relative gradients of flow that may exist across the patch system, impacting connectivity and community of corals found on these reefs. These babies should be deployed in the next few days once they are done drying. Stay tuned for results…Brittany Huntington, Doctoral Student, RMSAS Univ. of Miami