Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Reef Watch Report presented to Minister for Health and Environment

Dr. Thaddeus Murdoch presenting a copy of the 2014 Reef Watch Report to the Hon. Jean Atherden, Minister for Health, Seniors & the Environment.
The Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS) is pleased to announce that the 2014 REEF Watch Report is now available to the public, and has also been officially presented to the Hon. Jean Atherden, JP, MP, Minister for Health & Environment.

The report is a culmination of the data collected during REEF Watch 2014, which was held on Saturday, June 28, and supported by lead sponsor, Hiscox. During the one-day event, members of the community were invited to participate in an island-wide effort to monitor the health of Bermuda's reefs in support of the Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis and Monitoring (BREAM) programme, led by chief scientist, Dr. Thaddeus Murdoch.

Not only was the event a huge success as a fundraiser for continued reef protection and support of BREAM, it also provided scientists with an amazing amount of data that would normally take months to gather - including counting more than 4000 individual fishes classified into nine main categories based on their important jobs on the reef. More than 20 teams participated in the day's events, surveying 40 different patches of reefs located across Bermuda's north lagoon.

The surveys were conducted utilizing hula-hoops to help measure coral health and the amount of seaweed and mobile reef inhabitants, like lobsters, found on the lagoonal reefs.

Dr. Robbie Smith participating in one of the 40 reef surveys that were conducted in June. ~ Photo by N. Pollard
"It was great to spend time with all the Reef Watch participants and to hear about their snorkeling experiences during REEF Watch Day 2014," Dr. Murdoch said. "I am really pleased with the information they collected. Their efforts confirmed for a second year that our reef corals and plant-eating fishes remain healthy. Worryingly, our commercial fish, such as grouper and snapper, were in very low numbers across most reefs again this year. It is important that all parts of the reef are healthy if they are to protect us from big storms like Hurricane Gonzalo, and to continue to provide food for future generations of Bermudian residents."

Predatory fish, like groupers and snappers, are important in controlling numbers of coral-killing damselfish that live on the reef. Parrotfish, doctor fish, and chubs eat underwater plants that fight for space with reef corals. Damselfish are native members of the reef community, but when left unchecked, can cause damage to corals by growing turf algae gardens on coral skeletons. A healthy reef has lots of predatory fish and plant-eating (herbivorous) fish, and few damselfish.

A healthy Bermuda coral reef, with lots of corals, plant-eating fish and predatory fish, and not much sea weed, near Chub Beacon, west of Sandys Parish.
© 2014 TJT Murdoch 
Analysis of the 2014 REEF Watch survey indicates some good news and some bad news. While herbivorous fish were highly abundant on more than 50% of the reefs surveyed and only rare on the inshore reefs, where they do not naturally live. However, we found that there were too few predators on reefs - predators were only found to be "abundant" on 10% of reefs, and "highly abundant" on only 7% of reefs. Conversely, over 80% of reefs were seen to have very low to no predators.

Probably a consequence of too few predatory fish being seen on the reefs, damselfish were seen to be very abundant on more than 50% of reefs, and abundant on another 30%. Only 17% of the reefs were seen to have the low numbers of damselfish that are normally expected to see if fish populations and coral reefs were in a healthy condition. This pattern of too few predators and too many damselfish was also seen in 2013.

A full copy of the 2014 REEF Watch Survey Report can be found online
for download at: BZS REEF WATCH REPORT .
Information on REEF Watch 2015 will be available in the Spring.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Reef Watch - 2014 Annual Report

The 2014 annual report of the BZS Reef Watch project can be accessed at this:link to pdf file

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.