Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reef Watch

It’s no secret that Bermuda has a dynamic underwater ecosystem. The island’s reefs have long been favored by divers and marine enthusiasts longing to catch a glimpse of tropical fish of all kinds—not to mention, over 300 shipwrecks sunk in our waters. But according to a recent report issued by the World Resources Institute, Bermuda’s reefs are in serious danger. In the report titled Reefs at Risk Revisited, Bermuda appears on a list with six other at-risk islands including the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mayotte, Samoa, St. Eustatius and St. Kitts/Nevis, all of which have a high exposure to threat and a high dependence on its reefs. “While relatively high adaptive capacities are likely to help these islands buffer potential impacts on reef-dependent people,” reads the report, “ultimately the extent of their vulnerability to reef loss will depend on how effectively resources and skills are directed toward reducing reef threats and dependence.” Which really just means Bermuda and its sister islands should stop being so dependent on the reefs for food and employment. But of course it’s not all our fault. Dr. Tony Knap of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) says we’ve also got the rising temperatures of the Earth to blame. “Our biggest threat is the increasing acidity of the ocean and sea levels increasing brought about mainly by the expansion of the ocean caused by warming,” said Dr. Knap in response to the report. The BIOS director added, “Our danger is that if we lose the reefs, we’ll be washed away,” a sullen thought indeed but one that shines a bright light on a growing environmental threat.

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