Reef Watch 2014 Hailed A Marine Success

July 3, 2014

On Saturday, June 28, the Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS], along with lead sponsor Hiscox, hosted the second annual Reef Watch Citizen Science initiative, which supports the work of the Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis and Monitoring [BREAM] programme, led by chief scientist Dr. Thaddeus Murdoch.

A spokesperson said, “Throughout the day, volunteers carried out reef surveys, documenting coral health and counting different types of marine animals. Preliminary analysis of data provided by nearly 100 Reef Watchers suggests that Bermuda’s corals are healthy, although there is a concern about how few predatory fish, like grouper and snapper, were seen.

“Predatory fish naturally keep in check the numbers of native prey fish that can cause damage to reef corals, such as damselfish. When predators are overfished, then damselfish become too abundant and damage reef integrity across vast areas. Unfortunately, predators were rare and damselfish were seen in high numbers in 2013 and again this year.”

A family poses during Reef Watch 2014 [photo courtesy Nigel Pollard]


Jeremy Pinchin, Hiscox CEO, said, “In working with BZS last year, Hiscox shared the vision of how we could inspire the citizens of Bermuda to get involved in the protection of Bermuda’s reef systems by collating scientific data and, at the same time, raising funding for the continued research required to ensure a healthy living reef system.

“The Bermuda reef systems are a special, precious and sadly increasingly unique environment of huge ecological and economic value to Bermuda. It was a huge privilege for Hiscox to play a small part in this important work and again be the lead sponsor for this wonderful project.”

“Each boat was asked to raise funds for coral reef conservation through pledges. A pledge level of $500 per entry was set as the goal for fundraising. This goal, however, was far exceeded with $24,573 raised. Teams rose to the challenge to achieve a higher goal and competition between boats was furious.”

A Reef Watcher keeps a record of fish seen on her reef site [photo courtesy Nigel Pollard]


“A daily – then hourly – e-mail campaign to all Reef Watchers let them know the success of their efforts until finally a winner was declared. Team Coral Coast, of Coral Coast Clothing, was the top team in raising $4,740. They were followed closely by Team Reef Rummer, which raised $4,203.

“Prior to Reef Watch Day, participants were given training on how to survey reefs and identify what a healthy reef looks like. The Reef Watch handbook, handed out to participants, provided a detailed and colourful guide to the natural features of Bermuda’s coral reef habitats, how to find each boat’s geo-referenced survey reefs, and how to complete benthic surveys using a hula hoop.

“Closing out the day’s events, BZS president Richard Winchell said, “The BZS is grateful to everyone who supported Reef Watch. Together, we are all making a difference. By simply observing what we see beneath the surface, and sharing what we see with researchers we all contribute to a better understanding of our shared marine environment”.

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Category: All, Environment

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  1. X man says:

    Great Job — now all we have to do is eliminate the dreaded Lion Fish’.