Showing posts from 2009

Happy Holidays from the BREAM team

Banded cleaner shrimp (c) Ian Murdoch

Photo Wednesday - Deep Blue RV Endurance

A snorkeler floats suspended at the bow
of the Bermuda Zoological Society's RV Endurance
[click photo for larger image] (c) T. Murdoch

The BREAM mission

BREAM: 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…

Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, on regarding climate impacts to Bermuda

Dr. Ewart Brown was interviewed on Sky news network today - discussing the importance of the worlds larger countries in controlling climate change and the peril facing Bermuda's coral reefs otherwise.

See and hear Dr. Brown's inverview on Sky News at this LINK

We at BREAM are constantly assessing the condition of coral reefs, fishes and other marine animals, so that Bermuda may better manage both global and local environmental impacts to our splendid marine environment.

Conservation Services has a new WEBSITE


Surveys of Protected Diving Areas underway

The propeller of the ship wreck of the "Cristobal Colon", which is now a
Buoyed Marine Protected Area for divers near North Rock, Bermuda.

The BREAM team has been busy since mid-October braving high winds and stormy seas to survey all of the Buoyed Dive Site Protected Areas, as part of a project funded by the Department of Conservation Services, the Bermuda Zoological Society, the Atlantic Conservation Partnership, and the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK Govt.

We are using the AGRRA protocol to assess the corals, other benthic animals, and fishes, and the REEF fish survey protocol to gain additional information about fishes at each location.
Yellow dots in the map above show the locations of the
Buoyed Protected Dive Sites we are presently surveying
(click image to enlarge)

This information will be added to the BREAM database which already holds data from over 160 coral reef and seagrass sites. The information we collec…

Bermuda Sun: Renowned naturalist's voyage into Bermuda's waters

10/9/2009 10:27:00 AM Renowned naturalist's voyage into Bermuda's waters
A queen conch fish is not the kind of creature to get everyone's pulse racing.

Compared to a hump back whale, a tiger shark or a manta ray, the tiny shell-dweller barely registers a blip on the interest level of most amateur ocean ­explorers.

But when you've classified, described and photographed almost every known fish in the ocean, coming across something you haven't seen before is a genuine thrill.

Ned de Loach wrote the book on scuba diving - literally.

His encyclopedic 'fish identification' manuals, compiled along with Paul Humann, are bibles for divers everywhere.

A soggy well-thumbed copy of the regional edition - a consultative manual that put a name and a face to the mysterious creatures that lie beneath the ocean's surface - can be found on most dive boats around the world.

Mr. de Loach has been diving for forty years - taking pictures of sea creatures and documenting their beha…

Bermuda looks to a 'Sustainable Fisheries Strategy'

From Royal Gazette, Oct. 1st 2009 [link]

By Tricia Walters
Photo by Tricia Walters Forward thinking: Director of the Department of Environmental Protection, Dr. Fred Ming and Marine Resource Officer, Dr. Tammy Trott.
The sea is not a limitless resource, nor can it absorb any and everything we humans put in it. As the world's population grows so too does competition for limited marine resources, resulting in a cycle of adverse changes to our oceans. Some of the worst culprits are overfishing and pollution, together with emissions of excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air, which in turn raises the temperature of the ocean, while also making the seas more acidic. A diverse array of fish species is an essential part of our aquatic environment and the health and size of our fish stocks is an indicator of environmental quality. Historically fishing was a means of survival, and while some still earn their living this way, fishing has also be…

From Royal Gazette: Expert warns against eating sickly fish

Expert warns against eating sickly fish

By Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch
Fish Pathologist Dr. Wolfgang Vogelbein at a press conference about recent fish die-offs. Photo: Mark Tatem An overseas fish expert yesterday called the recent fish die-off concerning. But he urged people to use common sense when it came to eating fish, saying the majority of those caught are safe. Wolfgang Vogelbein is a highly regarded fish pathologist and professor of marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the College of William and Mary. Dr. Vogelbein said: "It's always the big question, 'are the fish safe to eat?' I think common sense should be used. People who fish know what a healthy fish looks like. "Those are safe to eat. But a fish which has ulcers on it [such as a lack of scales and blood on the skin] should not be." He added that he enjoyed rockfish for lunch yesterday. But he said the die-off…

Offshore Coral Husbandry for Research and Conservation Action

Two coral racks located in 9-m depth, holding 20 corals each.

This close-up photo shows the wire and bar used to make the racks,
and some of the corals we are studying.

BREAM researcher Jessie Hallett is deploying juvenile corals
epoxyed to small tiles on this coral rack. Once the corals are held
on the racks for a short period to recover, they will be used in
an experiment on a nearby reef.

BREAM has built and deployed mesh racks for holding reef corals, out at our research area in the North Lagoon. We are using these racks for two reasons: (1) to carry out experiments on coral growth under different environmental and experimental conditions, and (2) to use as "holding pens" for corals in need of relocation after ship groundings, shoreline development or other human activities. Corals grow better when water flow is un-impeded, and corals placed on the racks 2 months ago seem very healthy thus far.

Breaking News: Govt. looking into cause of dead fish

Royal Gazette: September 15. 2009 01:56PM

Residents are being advised not to panic over the numbers of dead fish that have washed up on Bermuda’s shores in recent weeks.

Hundreds of e-mails have been circulated by persons concerned about the die-off, with many warning against eating local fish.

Government is to hold a press conference today, however Environmental Protection director Fred Ming told The Royal Gazette: “I think it would be wise not to eat any fish that looks like it is lethargic [unresponsive] or has lesions or any signs on the body of damage. Do not eat them because we don't know what's involved.”

Dr. Ming said people should be cautious, but there is no need to panic. At this point, he doesn't discourage anyone from swimming or fishing.

“We don’t know what is causing this and what we have done is assign a team of scientists, technicians and so forth representing the department, conservation services and BIOS. We have been out on one outing and we will send peopl…

BREAM team prepares for 60 ft reef surveys

Rob Fisher setting up a transect line on Bermuda's forereef terrace

A fundamental impediment to marine resource management in Bermuda is the lack of critical baseline data of the benthic and fish populations present across fore-reef habitats, and within current marine protected areas of the Bermuda Platform. These reef habitats are large, covering over 300 sq. km., and of global significance as preliminary surveys indicate that the Bermuda fore-reef contains some of the healthiest coral and herbivorous fish assemblages remaining in the Western Atlantic.

As part of the BREAM mandate, and with the BZS research vessel "Endurance" and with financial assistance from the Department of Conservation Services (link), the Atlantic Conservation Partnership, and the Overseas Territories Environment Programme (link), we are going to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the entire fore-reef habitat at 10-m depth intervals across 3 depth zones, and of all spatially-bounded managed …


Prior BREAM research intern Matt Strong is hosting a Lionfish Tournament next weekend:


Price:$15 per individual & $30 per boat
Date:Sunday, August 23, 2009 Time:7:00am - 3:00pm Location:Pier 41 Marina - Dockyard

Lion Fish Tournament Aug 23rd

Safely catch as many Lion fish as you can;
spear them, hook them, net them. Basically get them how ever you can legally and safely. All Lion Fish Catches accepted - no size or number limits

Tournament time:
Sun-up to 3 p.m.

From 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.
Weigh-in and Awards/Prize Giving
Lion Fish- Handling, Preparation and Tasting
Big Tune by Harrington Sound...


We will have two information sessions and lion fish collection permit courses on Aug 15th at 11am and on Aug 18th at 7…

BREAM researcher Jessie Hallett in the Mid Ocean on July 31st

Mid Ocean News link here

Published: July 31. 2009 12:00AM
How our wetlands have shrunk over past 200 years

By Alex Scrymgeour
BERMUDA has lost 57 per cent of its wetland areas in the last 200 years. With continued coastal development and people continuing to dump trash illegally at marshes and other wetland environments the problem is only getting worse.
Click Here to Visit our SponsorLast night, Jessie Hallett, a researcher with the Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS), gave a lecture in the main hall of the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo (BAMZ), discussing how marine and wetland habitats of Bermuda have changed in the past two centuries.By comparing a 200-year-old detailed map of our reef and wetland areas to those of today she showed the impact on Bermuda's fragile environment.Speaking with the Mid-Ocean News earlier, Ms Hallett and Dr. Thad Murdoch, head of the Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Mapping Programme (BREAM) at BZS, talked about the upcoming info…

RESCHEDULE!! BAMZ Lecture: 200 years of change: New Perspectives from Old Maps

Not Monday - TUESDAY!!!!

FREE: Public Welcome
Date:Tuesday, July 28, 2009 Time:7:00pm - 8:00pm Location:Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo - Classroom
Flatts Village, Bermuda

Come hear Jessie Hallett, BREAM researcher, describe how she used the 200 year old Hurd Map of Bermuda to determine how marine and wetland habitats of Bermuda have been changed in the past 2 centuries

Eagle Ray researcher Matt Ajemian in the news!

BREAM supported research graduate student Matt Ajemian, in part funded by the Eric Clee Environmental Fund at the Bermuda Zoological Society, was in the news today!

Link to Bermuda Sun article from Wednesday July 8th

Bermuda holds secrets to the elusive Eagle Ray

Sarah Lagan

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Research:  Scientist Matt Ajemian (right) is assisted in the weighing of the captured Eagle Ray which is seen below being netted in to the boat. *Photos by Sarah Lagan
The Eagle Ray is a species of fish shrouded in mystery and it is one man's mission to unearth the many secrets of these enigmatic creatures from our own island.

PHD student Matthew Ajemian is visiting Bermuda from the University of South Alabama seeking an insight into the ray's movements and behavioural patterns.

He is returning to complete the next phase of his research focusing on the ray's interaction with Bermuda's Calico Clam, now scarce here but once seen in their droves.

Harrington Sound ha…

Every marine biologist's favourite song? It just might be!

Summer is here and BREAM is out on the water more than ever!

Jessie Hallett, BREAM Research Assistant,
exploring patch reefs in Bermuda's North Lagoon

This summer BREAM has several graduate students, funded by BZS, ACP and OTEP, taking part in a range of research projects.

Matt Ajemian, from the University of South Alabama and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, is returning for his third year of BZS-funded PhD research into the population assessment and feeding ecology of spotted eagle rays. His primary advisor is Dr. Sean Powers.

Brittany Huntington is returning for her second year of ACP-funding with her PhD project which examines patch reef ecology and interactions between parrotfish and corals. Brittany goes to the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, and is in Dr. Diego Lirman's lab.

Katherine Yates joins us for the first time, on an OTEP-funded project to survey the forereef habitats of the Bermuda platform and develop a reliminary spatial management plan for the reefs, as part of her Masters project…

Reef related news from IUCN

BREAM scientists surveying reefs for disease (c) 2007 T.Murdoch

Latest News from the International Union for Conservation of

Manage corals - Minimize climate change
Protecting the oceans makes economic sense

Report on Seafan Nudibranch Outbreak 2005

Bermuda's Environmental Charter

Bermuda's Environmental Charter (link pdf)

Photo Friday - Big ol' Lobster

A nice big lobster we saw recently on a coral reef survey.

Bermuda Government Announcement - Closure of Blue Striped Grunt Spawning Area

The Department of Environmental Protection within the Ministry of the Environment and Sports has advised the public that an area of North Shore will be closed to all fishing activities between May 1st, 2009 and June 30th, 2009 inclusive. The area being closed is a known “fish aggregation area” and is being closed for the conservation and protection of the Blue-striped grunt (Haemulon sciurus), and in accordance with the Fisheries Act 1972. The closed area being roughly rectangular in shape is enclosed by a line running in a north-easterly direction from St. Catherine’s Point, St. George’s to the Southern channel marker #12 (32 degrees 23.6 minutes North, 64 degrees 40.1 minutes West) thence by a line running along the southern boundary of the Southern channel to the Southern channel marker #16 (32 degrees 23.9 minutes North, 64 degrees 40.7 minutes West) thence by a line running in a south-westerly direction to a point 32 degrees 23.4 minutes North, 64 degrees 41.4 minutes West then…

Extreme Low Tide - updated

The tops of purple sea fans (Gorgonia ventalina) were exposed to the air for hours yesterday during flat calm sea conditions and an extremely low spring tide. The beacon at Eastern Blue Cut is in the background.

While dramatic, the surprisingly low low tide was a normal spring event. Tide predictions for Sunday show a very low tide was expected [see link]. Regardless, the tops of soft corals out on the reef, as well as seagrass meadows across Bermuda (see below), were exposed for hours to bright sunlight and little wind. This will probably result in some mortality and subtle ecological effects that will take some months to restore to normal.

The brown substrate in the forground is a subaerially exposed seagrass meadow.
This bay pictured above is normally under 3 ft of water,
but was exposed during the spring tide at the end of April.

Out doing marine science

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. We have been out working on research projects and doing reef restoration projects.

In the photo above - BREAM research assistant Jessie Hallett is transplanting corals at a ship grounding site. We then monitor the corals for survival through time.

From Bermuda News: Turtles survive horrific boat strikes

Turtles survive horrific boat strikes

By Amanda Dale
Royal Gazette
Monday March 30, 2009

Tough turtle: Mark Outerbridge and Patrick Talbot remove barnacles and algae from a boat struck Green Turtle which was found in Jews Bay on Wednesday. The turtle is missing a large portion of shell but is still alive.
Photo: Mark Tatem

Boat users are being urged to slow down after two more injured turtles were recovered from the water this week.Both Green Turtles are both lucky to be alive, according to Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) head aquarist Patrick Talbot.

The first was found floating in Jews Bay and the second was recovered from St. George's Harbour."We are amazed they are still alive," said Mr. Talbot.The turtles are now being rehabilitated at BAMZ, but need daily care to clean out their wounds.

The first, estimated at between 20 and 30 years old, was spotted by a member of the public on Wednesday in Jews Bay. The turtle was severely injured and Bermuda Turtle Project coord…

Mangroves: Back to Bermuda’s Roots

By: Jessie Hallett - BZS

Two views across The Lagoon at Ireland Island showing the fringing mangroves and neighbouring seagrass habitats. These natural areas are critical habitat for juvenile snappers and grunts which eventually leave and live as adults out on the coral reefs.

While we tend to think of marine habitat restoration as something modern – I have found two instances where healthy mangrove forest were created over decades and centuries ago.

During the last few months, I have been comparing extant marine and coastal habitats around Bermuda to those that were present two hundred years ago. I have been doing this by comparing recent aerial photos of the coast and reefs to the same areas charted by Thomas Hurd between 1788 and 1797. Throughout my work, I have been striving to determine what changes have occurred to these habitats, whether the changes have benefited the environment or not, and whether they are natural or anthropogenic. While in many cases, the environmental change…