Bermuda Mourns The Loss Of Dr. Neil Burnie

November 11, 2014

The island is today mourning the loss of Dr. Neil Burnie, the well-known veterinarian and colourful character with an unmatched passion for Bermuda’s marine wildlife.

Dr. Burnie died following a tragic marine accident today [Nov 11], getting into difficulty while free diving off the waters of Horseshoe Bay.

The Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre said that Dr. Burnie was free diving helping to recover lobster traps lost in the recent hurricanes, and was discovered on the sea bed in an unresponsive state.

Dr Neil Burnie Bermuda (4)

Immediately following his death, tributes began to pour out online, with many remarking that the island had lost one of its beloved figures.

Well-known throughout the island, Dr Burnie would go from swimming with sharks, to playing his saxophone on stage, to working at Endsmeet, where he cared for many of the island’s animals.

Dr. Burnie’s larger than life character and marine exploits captured the attention of an international film crew, leading to Dr. Burnie being selected to star in the Ocean Vet television series, which was filmed in Bermuda.

Photo courtesy of Ocean Vet, taken by Choy Aming

neil-burnie-shark-swimming

According to the Facebook page of the Ocean Vet television show, the series “follows the exploits of veterinarian Dr. Neil Burnie, a man on a mission to protect Bermuda’s precious marine wildlife.”

The Ocean Vet promo said Dr. Burnie had “truly infectious” enthusiasm and a “hands-on approach to some of the most dangerous marine animals makes for compulsive viewing.”

Calling him an “eccentric character, full of life,” Ocean Vet said “his love for the natural world developed whilst growing up in his native England. He fulfilled his dream of becoming a vet before wanderlust took him globe-trotting – busking, fly fishing and diving the worlds shallow seas.”

Dr Neil Burnie Bermuda (8)

Premier Michael Dunkley extended his condolences, saying, “I have known Neil for many years, and this is an especially tragic loss. Neil will always be remembered as a person who had an immense love for our natural world.

“He was passionate about preserving our oceanic wildlife and our environment and his advocacy will be truly missed. He was a man who embraced all that life had to offer, an adventurer at heart, and a man who touched so many lives.”

“On behalf of the Government, I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to Neil’s family, friends and colleagues.”

Dr. Ian Walker, Principal Curator of the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo [BAMZ] said, “I was shocked and saddened to hear about Neil’s tragic death today and know I speak for the entire aquarium family [BAMZ, BZS and ACP] to say our love, thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.

“Neil had a zest for life that was unparalleled and he lived life to full. He was an excellent veterinarian and also used those skills and his showmanship to tell an amazing story about Bermuda’s marine environment.

“Bermuda lost a great ambassador today and many Bermudians lost a great friend. We will miss him and the close relationship that he had with the aquarium. I will miss him as a friend and for the kind and big-hearted person that he was.”

OBA Chair Senator Lynne Woolridge said, “It is with great sadness that we learned today of the death of local vet, ocean activist, musician and well-known local character, Dr. Neil Burnie.”

“Dr. Burnie touched many lives in Bermuda, through his years as a Government and private vet and as an avid ocean explorer, educator and activist for its protection. He will be greatly missed.

“On behalf of the One Bermuda Alliance, and all the people of Bermuda, I offer our condolences to his family and many friends and trust they may in time find solace in the enduring mark he made on the lives of so many, and in the zeal with which he lived his life.”

The Progressive Labour Party also extended their condolences to the family of Dr. Neil Burnie, saying “The tragic loss of this contributor to our community should be mourned by all Bermudians. We extend our prayers and best wishes to his family.”

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Category: All, Environment, News

Comments (26)

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  1. Bermewjan says:

    This is shocking news! He was so full of life and fun – a huge loss to everyone who knew him!

  2. d says:

    Beautiful man with a beautiful heart for all living things.

  3. Alan Gordon says:

    Dr Burnie:

    Thank you for saving our dog Miriam and buying her some extra years of joyful companionship with us.

  4. BeeMan says:

    So Sad. My thoughts are with his family at this time.

  5. Miguelito says:

    Neil…Thanks for shining your brilliant light on us. We’re gonna miss you. R.I.P.

  6. janet grayston says:

    I was deeply saddened to hear of the untimely death of Dr. Neil Burnie, a man with so many talents. My contact with Dr. Burnie was with my many dogs over the years whom he treated with great kindness and love and a touch of humour.
    Bermuda has been richer for knowing him and will be at a loss for losing him. Thank you, Dr. Burnie. RIP

  7. IJS says:

    Dr. Neil Bernie, I will miss seeing you at the vets office. such a happy go lucky men who brought a smile to my face each time I came in with my pets. You will be remembered by all Bermudians for playing in your son’s band at concerts May you rest in Peace my friend. To your wife and son you have my deepest Condolences and may God continue to bless you.

  8. On behalf of my wife Reming, the Bordens and myself I do take this opportunity in extending our condolence to the family and friends and co-workers at Endsmeet of Dr. Neil Burnie. Gone yes, but never to be forgotten…

  9. postal says:

    MY DEEPEST CONDOLENCES TO MR. BURNIE FAMILY.FROM THE FLATTS POST OFFICE

  10. yella says:

    Dr. Burnie will be agreat miss to all of Bermuda my condolences to his family and the Endsmeet Family he will be a great miss he will never be forgotten. R.I.P. Neil

  11. Jeremy Madeiros says:

    Still shocked at hearing the sad news about Dr. Neil Burnie, and my sincere condolences to his family and friends. Bermuda has lost a unique, multi-talented person and a great advocate for Bermuda’s animals and marine environment.
    Larger than life………….without a doubt
    Ecentric ………………..absolutely!

    RIP Neil-may you find clear waters to swim in.

    Jeremy Madeiros

  12. Allspice says:

    He saved the lives of two of my dogs and in the process gave me more gory detail about how bodies work than I was ever expecting. He was always charming and engaged as he told me about the exciting highlights of my dog’s surgery then moving on to the story of how he stopped in at Endsmeet to perform minor surgery on himself after a fishing accident.

    He made Bermuda more interesting and I shall miss him.

  13. Bermuda123 says:

    Neil was a wonderful person and a wonderful vet to our pets over the years. This is a tragic loss. Our condolences to all his many friends and family.

  14. Sunshine says:

    Condolences to his family. Such a tragic loss to everything he cared about. RIP

  15. always watching says:

    There are no words to express my familys sadness for this tremendous loss. We will miss you terribly.

  16. JCS says:

    Neil didn’t just treat animals at Endsmeet, he treated their humans as well. I will never forget Neil’s kindness when my beloved cat had to be put to sleep. You will be missed and never forgotten Neil.

  17. BermyL says:

    What an incredible man! You will be truly missed. Thank you for the big and small ways in which you touched so many of us.

  18. Tony nield says:

    I remember working at Ag Fish and Parks when he was the Government vet. What a great guy and a real privilege to have known him and shared a few beers after work on a Friday in the Lab.

    I hope his family will get some comfort from all these messages.

    Tony Nield Kent

  19. Independent says:

    Rest In Peace Dr. Burnie

  20. Natalie Stapff says:

    Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.- Mark Twain
    Dr. Neil Bernie was a great advocate for animals, musician, and person, and he will be greatly missed. Prayers go out for his family and friends. May he rest in peace.

  21. Gillian Edwards says:

    I can not believe it and wished i could take back time and Neil still be with us .A great great person and loved by my whole family .So shocked .We will not forget you .

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