BZS Reef Watch Report Presented To Ministers

May 8, 2014

The Bermuda Zoological Society has officially presented the 2013 Reef Watch Report to Trevor Moniz, Minister for Health & Environment and Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Minister of Public Works.

The report is a culmination of the data collected during Reef Watch 2013, a one-day event held on August 31 last year, and supported by lead sponsor, Hiscox.

The event invited members of the community 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.

According to Dr. Robbie Smith, a representative from the BZS Scientific Committee, “Reef Watch is a valuable project for three key reasons. As an initiative developed by the BZS it connects concerned citizens in a meaningful way to their environment.

“It is remarkable that people are very happy to first be trained to gather valuable data about the state of our reefs and then be willing to spend their time and money to accomplish a challenging task.

“All the participants praised the value of their experience as it was both fun and expanded their understanding of ecology of our reefs. The collected data provides a unique window into the status of so many different reefs all in the same time period.

“This is a valuable complement to past studies on these reefs by the BREAM project, at time when support for coral reefs studies has diminished. The Reef Watch results will help focus follow-up studies.

“Reef Watch again proved the power of partnerships in Bermuda to accomplish a significant task. So many people committed time, energy, and resources to establish Reef Watch and make it successful.

“With Hiscox- as a lead sponsor, the efforts of the BZS, Dr. Murdoch and the Bermuda Aquarium helped create an armada of environmentalists who went out to do good work. Dr. Murdoch’s concise synthesis of the results clearly show how much was learned and why this important community outreach project should continue.”

From the data collected, the report shows that Bermuda’s reefs are still in fairly good condition; however, there are specific areas that are showing signs of concern. These areas are typically in locationswith the greatest human interaction and impact.

“Reef Watch is a unique opportunity for every one to visit and better understand our coral reefs,” explained BZS President, Richard Winchell. “Everyone had fun on the day, valuable data was collected and significant funds were raised by participants and company donors to support ongoing coral reef research. We wish to thank the Hiscox team for adopting the Reef Watch project and making it such a success, and to Dr. Murdoch for compiling and analyzing the data into this insightful report on the health of Bermuda’s coral reefs.”

“Hiscox were delighted to be the sponsor of the inaugural Reef Watch day organized by the Bermuda Zoological Society,” shared Jeremy Pinchin, CEO of Hiscox.

“The reefs which surround the shores of Bermuda are of incalculable value to the economy of the island. Value not only through their innate quality and that of the marine life they sustain, but in protecting the shores of the island from the vagaries storms.”

“It is easy in our hectic day-to-day life to forget how fragile these environments are and how quickly the action of people, whether through local or international activity, can degrade these reefs. The impact of damage to the reefs of Bermuda would severely impact the economy of the island, not just as a tourist destination but also a business location. Such a loss would impact every Bermudian in a significant way.”

“Damage to the reefs can occur very quickly and it is through the work of scientists such as Dr. Thad Murdoch, we can monitor and, hopefully, rectify damage to our reefs before that damage can become irreversible.”

“I applaud the work of the Zoological Society and BREAM and urge the Bermudian people to support the upcoming Reef Watch event.”

“Hiscox looks forward to continuing its involvement in this outstanding initiative.”

More than 100 people participated in last year’s event, including families, surveying 35 reefs and covering more than 500 sq. kms. of the Bermuda lagoon. One hundred percent of funds pledged by participants are allocated to coral reef research and conservation

Plans for Reef Watch 2014 are now underway, with the event scheduled for June 28. Those interested in putting together teams can register online at Teams must have their own boat, but will be provided with training in conducting reef surveys. Teams are also encouraged to raise at least $500 by soliciting friends and family.

The full report can be viewed here [PDF].

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Category: All, Environment