Friday, December 9, 2011

Bermuda's deeper forereef dominated by corals

BREAM is working up the data from the 24 deep reef video surveys we carried out last year using the RV Endurance and the drop-camera system we designed and built with funding provided by the UK Overseas Territories Environmental Programme. Preliminary results, and photographs such as the one above, indicate that coral cover is high, diseases are rare and the 150-sq km habitat between 30-40m depth remains in good ecological health.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bermuda Environmental Charter

The Environmental Charter of Bermuda is a commitment between the United Kingdom and the Government of Bermuda to recognize the critical importance of a healthy environment to the welfare and future survival of Bermudians.

The United Kingdom Overseas Territories Conservation Forum posts the Environmental Charter for all overseas territories on it's website:

The text of the Bermuda Environmental Charter is below:


Guiding principles

For the UK government, for the government of Bermuda∗ and for the people of Bermuda.

1.) To recognise that all people need a healthy environment for their well-being and livelihoods and that all can help to conserve and sustain it.
2.) To use out natural resources wisely, being fair to present and future generations.
3.) To identify environmental opportunities, costs and risks in all policies and strategies.
4.) To seek expert advice and consult openly with interested parties on decisions affecting the environment.
5.) To aim for solutions which benefit both the environment and development.
6.) To contribute towards the protection and improvement of the global environment
7.) To safeguard and restore native species, habitats and landscape features, and control or eradicate invasive species.
8.) To encourage activities and technologies that benefit the environment.
9.) To control pollution, with the polluter paying for the prevention or remedies
10.) To study and celebrate our environmental heritage as a treasure to share with our children.

The government of the UK will:

1) help build capacity to support and implement integrated environmental management which is consistent with Bermuda's own plans for sustainable development.

2) assist Bermuda in reviewing and updating environmental legislation.

3) facilitate the extension of the UK's ratification of Multilateral Environmental Agreements of benefit to Bermuda and which Bermuda has the capacity to implement.

4) keep Bermuda informed regarding new developments in relevant Multilateral Environmental Agreements and invite Bermuda to participate where appropriate in the UK's delegation to international environmental negotiations and conferences.

5) help Bermuda to ensure it has the legislation, institutional capacity and mechanisms it needs to meet international obligations.

6) promote better co-operation and the sharing of experiences and expertise between Bermuda, other Overseas Territories and small island states and communities which face similar environmental problems.

7) use UK, regional and local expertise to give advice and improve knowledge of technical and scientific issues. This includes regular consultation with interested non-governmental organisations and networks.

8) use the existing Environmental Fund for Overseas Territories, and promote access to other sources of public funding, for projects of lasting benefit to Bermuda's environment.

9) Help Bermuda identify further funding partners for environmental projects, such as donors, the private sector or non-government organisations.

10) Recognise the diversity of the challenges facing the Overseas Territories in very different socio-economic and geographical situations.

11) Abide by the principles set out in the Rio declaration on environmental and development (See Annex 2) and the work towards meeting International Development Targets on the environment (See Annex 3).

The government of Bermuda will:

1) bring together government departments, representatives of local industry and commerce, environmental champions and other community representatives in a forum to formulate a detailed strategy for action. (See Annex 1).

2) ensure the protection and restoration of key habitats, species and landscape features through legislation and appropriate management structures and mechanisms, including a protected areas policy, and attempt the control and eradication of invasive species.

3) ensure that the environmental considerations are integrated within social and economic planning processes; promote sustainable patterns of production and consumption within the territory.

4) undertake environmental impact assessments before approving major projects and while developing our growth management strategy.

5) commit to open and consultative decision-making on developments and plans which may affect the environment; ensure that environmental impact assessments include consultation with stakeholders.

6) implement effectively obligations under the Multilateral Environmental Agreements already extended to Bermuda and work towards the extension of other relevant agreements.

7) review the range, quality and availability of baseline data for natural resources and biodiversity.

8) ensure that legislation and policies reflect the principle that the polluter should pay for prevention or
remedies; establish effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

9) encourage teaching within schools to promote the value of our local environment (natural and built) and to explain its role within the region and global environment.

10) promote publications that spread awareness of the special features of the environment in Bermuda; promote within the territory the guiding principles set out above.

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.



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 co-operation among States, key sectors of society and people,
Working towards international agreements which respect the interests of all and protect the integrity of the global environment and developmental system,
Recognizing the integral and interdependent nature of the Earth, our home,
Proclaims that:

Principle 1
Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

Principle 2
States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

Principle 3
The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.

Principle 4
In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.

Principle 5
All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world.

Principle 6
The special situation and needs of developing countries, particularly the least developed and those most environmentally vulnerable, shall be given special priority. International actions in the field of the environment and development should also address the interests and needs of all countries.

Principle 7
States shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystem. In view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command.

Principle 8
To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.

Principle 9
States should cooperate to strengthen endogenous capacity-building for sustainable development by improving scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, and by enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies, including new and innovative technologies.

Principle 10
Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to
information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.

Principle 11
States shall enact effective environmental legislation. Environmental standards, management objectives and priorities should reflect the environmental and developmental context to which they apply. Standards applied by some countries may be inappropriate and of unwarranted economic and social cost to other countries, in particular developing countries.

Principle 12
States should cooperate to promote a supportive and open international economic system that would lead to economic growth and sustainable development in all countries, to better address the problems of environmental degradation. Trade policy measures for environmental purposes should not constitute and means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade. Unilateral actions to deal with environmental challenges outside the jurisdiction of the importing country should be avoided. Environmental measures addressing transboundary or global environmental problems should, as far as possible, be based on an international consensus.

Principle 13
States shall develop national law regarding liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. States shall also cooperate in an expeditious and more determined manner to develop further international law regarding liability and compensation for adverse effects of environmental damage caused by activities within their jurisdiction or control to areas beyond their jurisdiction.

Principle 14
States should effectively cooperate to discourage or prevent the relocation and transfer to other States of any activities and substances that cause severe environmental degradation or are found to be harmful to human health.

Principle 15
In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

Principle 16
National authorities should endeavour to promote the internalisation of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution, with due regard to the public interest and without distorting international trade and investment.

Principle 17
Environmental impact assessment, as a national instrument, shall be undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent national authority.

Principle 18
States shall immediately notify other States of any natural disasters or other emergencies that are likely to produce sudden harmful effects on the environment of those States. Every effort shall be made by the international community to help States so afflicted.

Principle 19
States shall provide prior and timely notification and relevant information to potentially affected States on activities that may have a significant adverse transboundary environmental effect and shall consult with those States at an early stage and in good faith.

Principle 20
Women have a vital role in environmental management and development. Their full participation is therefore essential to achieve sustainable development.

Principle 21
The creativity, ideals and courage of the youth of the world should be mobilized to forge a global partnership in order to achieve sustainable development and ensure a better future for all.

Principle 22
Indigenous people and their communities, and other local communities, have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices. States should recognize and duly support their identity, culture and interests and enable their effective participation in the achievement of sustainable development.

Principle 23
The environment and natural resources of people under oppression, domination and occupation shall be protected.

Principle 24
Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States shall therefore respect international law providing protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development, as necessary.

Principle 25
Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.

Principle 26
States shall resolve all their environmental disputes peacefully and by appropriate means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Principle 27
States and people shall cooperate in good faith and in a spirit of partnership for the fulfilment of the principles embodies in this Declaration and in the further development of international law in the field of sustainable development.


Annex 3

The International Development Targets have been agreed by the entire United Nations membership, following a series of summit meetings held by the UN and its specialised agencies over the last ten years or so. The meetings discussed progress in poverty reduction and sustainable development and set targets for measuring that progress.
The target for the environment is as follows:
There should be a current national strategy for sustainable development in the process of implementation, in every country by 2005, so as to ensue that current trends in the loss of environmental resources are effectively reversed at both global and national levels by 2015.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A comprehensive map of all BREAM survey sites

Points indicate reef and seagrass locations surveyed for benthic biota and fish populations by BREAM since 2004

After we mapped the coral reefs and other benthic habitats to a Geographic Information System (GIS) we went out and surveyed the coral reefs, seagrass beds etc to determine their condition, the abundance of the various animals and plants that lived there, whether there were disturbances such as disease and other general measures of ecological health. For a full list of parameters surveyed see the post below.
The map shows the location of each survey site we have assessed. Each site usually took 2-4 hrs to survey, with a team of 3 to 6 divers. All of the data collected was brought back to our office at BAMZ and processed and put into what is now a massive database.

We use this information to develop spatial models of the distribution of important animals such as groupers and brain corals. Also many of the areas we surveyed had never been surveyed before, so the data we collected will act as the "baseline" upon which future surveys can be compared. This will tell us whether the reefs or seagrass have gotten healthier or less healthy through time.

These surveys will also prove useful in indicating what will be lost if the cruise ship channels are re-dredged or widened. That said video surveys need to be done before dredging occurs if we are to really have an accurate measure of coral reef status before and after the impact occurs. AGRRA surveys allow us to get a comprehensive view of many key health indicators, but video surveys are more accurate. The trade-off is video surveys only can assess a smaller range of parameters,

Monday, October 3, 2011

A list of all the data we collect when we survey a coral reef

Coral Species assessed
Agaricia fragilis
Diploria strigosa
Diploria labyrinthiformis
Favia fragum
Porites astreoides
Porites porites
Montastraea frankesi
Montastraea faveolata
Montastraea cavernosa
Isophyllia sinuosa
Stephanocoenia intercepta
Dichocoenia stokesi
Millepora alcicornis
Madracis auretenra
Madracis decactis
Scolymia cubensis
Siderastrea radians
Oculina varicosa
Meandrina meandrites

Fishes assessed
Angelfish / French
Angelfish / Gray
Angelfish / Queen
Angelfish / Rock Beauty
Bermuda Species / Barred Hamlet
Bermuda Species / Beaugregory/Cocoa Damselfish
Bermuda Species / Blue Angelfish
Bermuda Species / Bluehead Wrasse
Bermuda Species / Chub
Bermuda Species / Clown Wrasse
Bermuda Species / Diadema
Bermuda Species / Gray Triggerfish
Bermuda Species / Lionfish
Bermuda Species / Puddingwife
Bermuda Species / Saucereye Porgy
Bermuda Species / Scrawled Filefish
Bermuda Species / Seargent Major
Bermuda Species / Sharpnose Puffer
Bermuda Species / Slippery Dick
Bermuda Species / Threespot Damselfish
Bermuda Species / Townsend Angelfish
Bermuda Species / Trumpetfish
Bermuda Species / Whitespotted Filefish
Bermuda Species / Yellowhead Wrasse
Bermuda Species / Yellowtail Parrotfish
Butterflyfish / Banded
Butterflyfish / Foureye
Butterflyfish / LongSnout
Butterflyfish / Reef
Butterflyfish / Spotfin
Grunt / Bluestriped
Grunt / Caesar
Grunt / French
Grunt / Porkfish
Grunt / Sailors Choice
Grunt / Smallmouth
Grunt / Spanish
Grunt / Tomtate
Grunt / White
Leatherjacket / Black Durgon
Leatherjacket / Orangespotted Filefish
Leatherjacket / Queen Triggerfish
Other / Almaco Jack
Other / Ballonfish
Other / Bandtail Puffer
Other / Bar Jack
Other / Bicolor Damselfish
Other / Blue Chromis
Other / Blue Runner
Other / Creolefish
Other / Creole Wrasse
Other / Glass Goby
Other / Great Barracuda
Other / Hairy Blenny
Other / Hogfish
Other / Jolthead Porgy
Other / Porcupinefish
Other / Painted Wrasse
Other / Sand Diver
Other / Saucereye Porgy
Other / Scrawled Cowfish
Other / Sharksucker
Other / Slender Filefish
Other / Smooth Trunkfish
Other / Spottail Pinfish - Bream
Other / Spanish Hogfish
Other / Spotted Goatfish
Other / Squirrelfish spp.
Other / Trumpetfish
Other / Yellow Goatfish
Other / Yellowtail Damselfish
Other / Yellowtail Parrotfish
Parrotfish / Blue
Parrotfish / Greenblotch
Parrotfish / Midnight
Parrotfish / Princess
Parrotfish / Queen
Parrotfish / Rainbow
Parrotfish / Redband
Parrotfish / Redtail
Parrotfish / Stoplight
Parrotfish / Striped
Seabass / Black
Seabass / Coney
Seabass / Graysby
Seabass / Nassau
Seabass / Red Hind
Seabass / Rock Hind
Seabass / Tiger
Seabass / Yellowfin
Seabass / Yellowmouth
Snapper / Cubera
Snapper / Gray
Snapper / Lane
Snapper / Mahogany
Snapper / Mutton
Snapper / Schoolmaster
Snapper / Yellowtail
Surgeonfish / Blue Tang
Surgeonfish / Doctorfish
Surgeonfish / Ocean Surgeonfish

 Benthic Parameters
Coral abundance
Coral species presence/absence
Coral species density
Coral diversity and evenness
Coral cover overall,
Coral cover by species,
Coral cover by coral functional group
Cover by benthic group
Size/frequency distribution for all coral species
Total mortality
Partial mortality
Diseases (Black Band, Yellowband, White Plague)
Parrotfish bites on corals
Damselfish Territories on corals
Coral Recruitment
Reef Rugosity
Algae thickness
Substate type

Other benthic biota
Calg Alg
Sponges and Gorgo etc
Hermit crab abundance
Herbivorous Snail abundance

Fish abundance
Species richness
Species diversity
Species evenness
Functional groups and guilds
Critical habitat – juveniles vs adults

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Official BREAM theme song!

The "Not the Um Um" Players - belting out the BREAM song... apparently written in honour of the Friends of Fish and their efforts that get fishpots banned in Bermuda back in the 1990s.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Previous BREAM news articles in the Royal Gazette re-linked

Below are restored links to BREAM news articles in the Royal Gazette from 2000 to 2009 that were lost when the newspaper changed their website.

Bermuda's reef healthy despite global warming

coral reefs to continue thriving while others have succumbed to the effects of global warming and El Nino.
DATE: May 22, 2000

Giving the ocean a medical

A new project launched by the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo will help pinpoint the healthiest areas of the ocean that surround the Island. Today is World Oceans Day and along with the Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Mapping (BREAM)...
DATE: June 08, 2004

Bermuda could be a 'Noah's Ark' for reefs

Bermuda's coral reefs are in such good shape compared to the Caribbean that they could be used as a "Noah's Ark" to re-populate destroyed reefs elsewhere. That was the positive news from Dr. Thad Murdoch of Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS), who is...
DATE: July 01, 2008

Coral reefs are Bermuda's 'crown jewels'

The Island's coral reefs are its "crown jewels" and should be protected at all costs, say two leading scientists. Dr. John Ogden and Dr. William Precht have spent the past few days diving Bermuda's reefs to report on their health at a global summit,...
DATE: July 04, 2008

The coral that lies beneath the waves

A TEAM of scientists was on the island this week in the lead-in to a prestigious conference discussing coral reefs around the world. Hosted by the Bermuda Zoological Society, the group spent much of its time diving on various reef sites. Their...
DATE: July 04, 2008 |

The importance of taking a vast 'snapshot' of Island's coral reefs

Scientists have produced an aquatic road map of our underwater realm, which will not only help divers and marine users but assist in the protection of our coral reefs for future generations. The Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Assessment and...
DATE: August 18, 2008

Island featured on Google Earth site

People around the globe can now dive into the beauty of Bermuda's aquamarine waters from their laptop. The Island's marine treasures are featured in the latest version of Google Earth, launched yesterday on the World Wide Web. Bermuda is one of 11...
DATE: February 03, 2009

 Scientists moving coral away from King's Wharf

Coral is being moved from a 100-year-old wreck to a new home to prevent damage by cruise ships. A team is removing the coral on the wreck of a tug that was used to build the King's Wharf, in Dockyard, and which is next to the new cruise ship pier.

DATE: March 20, 2009


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Mapping Programme

Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Mapping Programme
Chief Scientist: Dr. Thaddeus J. T. Murdoch, Ph.D.

The B.R.E.A.M. programme was started in 2002 with the mandate to collect the scientific information needed to better enable the management and conservation of Bermuda’s marine organisms and habitats. The programme amalgamated many of the marine components of the Bermuda Biodiversity Project, which was started in 1996 by Dr. Wolfgang Sterrer, Curator of the Natural History Museum, and managed by Dr. Annie Glasspool. Since 2002 some of the major accomplishments of the members of the B.R.E.A.M. programme include:
  • Mapping all coral reefs across the Bermuda Platform to a depth of 50 m
  • Baseline surveys of fish and benthic community structure at 55 seagrass meadows and within over 200 coral reef sites from inshore to 30-m depth
  • Producing a comprehensive biodiversity database accessible locally via the BNHM and globally through the REEF organization. and AGRRA
  • Documenting the history and extent of a massive seagrass die-off event in the lagoon, in which over 400 ha of seagrass was lost
  • Training over 30 undergraduate and graduate interns from Bermuda and the world
  • Successfully acquiring research funding from major funding sources in the United States of America and the United Kingdom
  • Presenting over 20 local and international lectures and posters
  • Invited to host  a week-long field trip to 10 visiting scientists, as part of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in 2008
  • Produced research reports and publications and a book chapter documenting the marine ecology of Bermuda.