Making a change: Volunteers help monitor the coral reefs at the second annual Reef Watch. *Photo supplied
Making a change: Volunteers help monitor the coral reefs at the second annual Reef Watch. *Photo supplied

While Bermuda’s coral reefs are relatively healthy, there are concerns about a lack of fish such as grouper and snapper.

This is one of the conclusions following the recent Reef Watch initiative that recruits citizen scientists to monitor the health of our waters. 

Predatory fish keep down numbers of prey fish that can damage the reefs. When the predators are overfished damselfish flourish and damage vast areas of reef. 

This was the second annual Reef Watch organized by the Bermuda Zoological Society with the support of main sponsor Hiscox. The initiative aims to help the work of the Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis and Monitoring (BREAM) programme led by Dr Thaddeus Murdoch.

Throughout the day, volunteers worked in teams to survey the reefs around the island documenting coral health and counting different types of marine animal. This year nearly a hundred volunteers took part. 

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.”

Aside from the valuable information gathered throughout the day, the event also raised some $24,573 through volunteer fundraising. Team Coral Coast of Coral Coast Clothing raised the most of the teams at $4,203. 

Closing out the day’s events, BZS president Richard Winchell stated, “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.”