Showing posts from November, 2008

BAMZ GIS day - hurrah for maps!

BAMZ hosted the local Bermuda GIS day on Monday, as part of World GIS day.

Pictured are John Arthur, Mapping Officer; John Halkett, Land Surveyor; Alison Copeland, Bermuda Biodiversity Action Plan Coordinator; Mandy Shailer, GIS/Research Officer; Peter Hopkin, Senior Land Surveyor and Richard Lowry, Planner.

Mandy Shailer, the GIS/Research Officer for the Department of Conservation Services, did a great job organizing the event. The public got to see the latest mapping technologies in use on land and in the water, and also got to have some yummy GIS cake - sweet!

My place of worship: Church Bay

In Bermuda, it is a myth that you have to travel by boat to see beautiful coral reefs. From the richly diverse coastal habitats and patch reefs of the north shore to the topographically appealing reefs of the south shore, there are countless near-shore snorkel spots that you can explore, no life jacket required! My favourite near-shore snorkel spot would have to be Church Bay, as it offers fantastic reef formations and a wide diversity of marine life.On an average day, Church Bay can be quite rough, so it’s best to visit on a day with calm winds.Although there are interesting reefs along the coastline, snorkel past these to the central boiler reefs.Here you will find friendly trunkfish, trumpetfish, schools of chub and bream, several species of parrotfish, and dozens of other types of reef fish.The corals are also brilliant, and you will see many massive boulder corals, brain corals, and large waving sea plumes, rods, and fans.If you keep your eyes peeled, you may also find a few long…

EnviroShorts DVD launched at BAMZ on Saturday

The award-winning environmental documentary series EnviroShorts gets its official launch on DVD this Saturday, November 22nd, from 2 - 4 pm. And former TV news reporter Sangita Iyer (pictured above), who created the 13-part series which aired on Channel 7 and Channel 9 last year, will be signing copies of the DVD for members of the public.The BREAM project and our research on Bermuda's coral reefs was one of the topics Sangita covered in the series.Royal Gazette articles about EnviroShorts can be read here and here.

Putting a dollar value on the goods and services provided by reefs and mangroves in Belize

Satellite image of Belize coast, barrier reefs and atolls, an environmental news website, reports on a study that found that:

Coral reefs and Mangroves worth $395 to $559 Million per year in Belize

Click the title to see the report, or click this link

How to make coral “popsicles”: a useful research tool!

Jessie Hallett, BREAM intern
The “popsicles” pictured here may resemble a cool summertime treat, but they are actually useful devices that we are using to design and implement various ecological experiments involving corals.They are also extremely easy to make!

They were created by first cutting ½” PVC pipe into one inch long tubes.Using marine silicone sealant, a small loop of fishing line was glued to the inside of each tube.Then, a branch of coral (in this case, we are using Madracis auretenra, or yellow-finger coral) is also glued into the pipe with the sealant.The sealant should be used above water, but once everything is set in place the corals can be returned to water.To hold the corals upright, we also made metal trays by cutting holes into ¼” mesh fencing, resulting in a semblance of a test tube rack.

With these trays and coral popsicles, it will be easy for us to set up an experiment in the lab or in the field. Since the number of corals and trays used are easy to…

Bountiful Patch Reefs off North Shore

Within a couple of km of North Shore, in what many folks consider to be unappealing waters, are found hundreds for finger corals reefs that are actually thriving with life. These patch reefs, paradoxically fairly near both land and one of the large ship channels that cuts across the lagoon, are characterised by high coral cover and a high number of coral species.

Turbidity (suspended sediments) are also high in this area though, and head corals show signs of stress from constant smothering by sand. The finger corals (comprising 5 species of the genera Madracis and Oculina) provide refuge to thousands of tomtate (white) grunts, which in turn provide food for gray snappers and other predatory fish.

BREAM surveys have shown that many other species of fish also rely on these locally under-appreciated reefs as juvenile habitat, indicating the vital role these coral reefs play in maintaining the resilience of Bermuda's fish stocks.

Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

Bermuda, in it's Environmental Charter (link pdf), committed to do many things, including:

Action 11: Abide by the principles set out in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and work towards meeting International Development Targets on the environment.

Following is the text of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,
which can also be found at United Nations Environment Programme website (here)

Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Having met at Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992, Reaffirming the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, adopted at Stockholm on 16 June 1972, and seeking to build upon it, With the goal of establishing a new and equitable global partnership through the creation of new levels of cooperation among States, key sectors of societies and people, Working towards international agreements which respect the interests of all and protect …

Green Calcareous Macroalgae

A mixture of several types of green calcareous macroalgae
dominate the seabed in this photograph.

Green Calcareous Macroalgae are a group of plants that grow in sandy and silty areas on the sea floor where water flow from currents or waves is very low. Several genera of plants are found in Bermuda, including:
Udotea, which looks kind of like a ping ping paddle,
Penicillus, otherwise known as Merman's Shaving Brush,
Halimeda, which look like little trees,
Acetabularia, otherwise known as Mermaid's wine glass.

These plants often grow in meadows in deeper harbours and sandy basins between the coral reefs in the lagoon. While they receive little attention they provide an important habitat for juvenile and adult fishes, as well as provide substrate for epiphytic (meaning "living on a plant") plants and animals. Additionally animals that live in the sand (termed "infauna") are generally abundant around calcareous macroalgae beds.

Fortunately, benthic surveys by Dr. Sarah…