Catlin Seaview Survey To Study Bermuda Reefs

July 31, 2013

The Catlin Seaview Survey, sponsored by re/insurer Catlin Group Limited, announced a significant expansion of its study of coral reefs with a new campaign in Bermuda in September.

The programme – which will significantly widen opportunities for ocean, coral and climate scientists to understand the changes occurring within the region – starts in Belize and moves on to Mexico, Anguilla, St. Vincent, Guadeloupe, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas in the coming months. The Catlin Seaview Survey will also explore the coral reefs off Bermuda in September.

Catlin Seaview Survey said, “Coral reefs in the Caribbean and Atlantic, like elsewhere, are under growing environmental stress. Being highly sensitive to environmental change, corals are considered the ‘canary in the coal mine’ when it comes to impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. Exploitation, pollution, warming waters and increased storms linked with climate change has caused the massive loss of corals across the Caribbean over the past 50 years.

“The loss of coral reefs has long-term implications for Caribbean economies given their dependence on reefs and other marine ecosystems for goods, services and economic welfare. According to the World Resources Institute, the value of shoreline protection provided by Caribbean reefs is between $700 million and $2.2 billion per year. Within the next 50 years, coral degradation and death could lead to annual losses totaling $140 million to $420 million.”

“We are committed to understanding the future risks posed by climate change,” said Stephen Catlin, Chief Executive of Catlin Group Limited. “It is not only important that scientists have access to this valuable data, but insurance companies such as ours must understand the impact that significant changes to our environment will have on local economies.”

Coral reefs globally are in an unprecedented state of decline due to pollution, overfishing and climate change. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict increasing frequency and severity of mass bleaching events over the coming years. As the Catlin Seaview Survey embarks on a race against time to survey the coral reefs of the world, the Caribbean serves as an ideal launching point to take the campaign global because of the stress already experienced by its reefs.

“The Caribbean was chosen to launch the global mission because it is at the frontline of risk,” said Richard Vevers, Project Director for the Catlin Seaview Survey. “Over the last 50 years, 80 per cent of the corals in many places in the Caribbean have disappeared because of coastal development and pollution. They now are also threatened by invasive species, climate change and ocean acidification – it’s the perfect storm”.

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