Helping hand: Right, Mark Outerbridge, wildlife ecologist at Conservation Services, and summer staffer Ronald Burchall, catch Bermuda’s Killifish as part of the Lifeboat Project. *Photo by Simon Jones
Helping hand: Right, Mark Outerbridge, wildlife ecologist at Conservation Services, and summer staffer Ronald Burchall, catch Bermuda’s Killifish as part of the Lifeboat Project. *Photo by Simon Jones

A last ditch bid to save one of Bermuda’s most unique species has been hailed a huge success.

Last year conservationists moved 50 juvenile killifish from Evans Pond in Southampton, where the population appeared to be struggling, to a pond on Riddell’s Bay Golf Course.

And the latest estimates suggest that this ‘Lifeboat population’ is now in excess of 400.

The Lifeboat Project has been spearheaded by the Department of Conservation Services’ wildlife ecologist, Mark Outerbridge, who told the Sun he was greatly encouraged by the news.

He said: “These killifish are endemic to Bermuda, in other words they found nowhere else in the world, and have been living here for thousands of years.”

He added: “We have been conducting a week-long census at Riddell’s Bay Pond over the last week.

Significant

“They show clearly that population numbers have increased significantly.

“We have seen an eight-fold increase since we relocated those original 50 killifish from Evans Bay in May 2012.

“That’s great news and shows this Lifeboat Project has been a success.”

Mr Outerbridge conducted a series of mark-recapture sessions between August 19 and 26 to work out the killifish population at Riddell’s Bay. 

He used traps baited with herring to catch the fish and recorded size and sex before returning them to the pond.

The first batch of killifish captured were also marked before they were released.

Mr Outerbridge then used a recognized formula to work out the pond population based on the total numbers caught and how many of the marked fish were subsequently
recaptured.

Surveys taken last Wednesday, Friday and earlier this week indicated the pond population to be 311, 470 and 417.

Mr Outerbridge added: “I’d like to thank the Riddell’s Bay general manager, Dennis Paul, as well as the board members for allowing us to establish this lifeboat population back in May 2012.”