Underwater Gardening

Bermuda has the most northerly coral reefs in the Atlantic and they are critically important to the islands, harbouring bio-diversity, delighting divers and snorkellers but also protecting the soft limestone of the island’s shores. They play a critical part is making the unique pink beaches that Bermuda is so famous for.

Bermuda’s reefs have recently be categorised as ‘high risk’ by the World Resource Institute, partly due to historical coastal development (in particular the American bases and Castle Harbour airfield, where damaged reefs have still not recovered), but also because of threats such as shipwrecks, invasive lionfish, climate change and a lack of awareness in tourism. The NGO Living Reefs Foundation is working to reverse some of the damage through ‘coral gardening’.

Emma Blackmore of Living Reefs explains, “Coral gardening involves growing juvenile coral in a lab, transplanting them onto a metal frame and moving them out into the ocean.” The idea is that with care and monitoring, the corals will grow into “a fully fledged coral reef that can sustain marine life”.

The technique has been used to great effect elsewhere in the world. With reefs absorbing a huge part of storm energy, the stakes are high to ensure that the reefs remain healthy.

The luxury resort Tucker’s Point have been working with the NGO to allow their guests to ‘adopt a coral garden’ – each room has a metal frame with corals attached which guests care for by removing sediment and brushing. Recently, 11thHourRacing has also been partnering to help the gardens grow.

To find out more, visit http://www.livingreefs.org.

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