Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Fifty Years of Impacts on Coral Reefs in Bermuda

Fifty Years of Impacts on Coral Reefs in Bermuda

Book Title

Proceedings of the Colloquium on Global Aspects of Coral Reefs: Health, Hazards, and History

Document Type

Book Chapter



Publication Date



Robert N. Ginsburg


[Chapter Abstract]

The high latitude coral reefs of Bermuda have been impacted by two major kinds of events since the early 1940s. The first was the dredging operation in Castle Harbour which led to the construction of Kindley airfield (now the Bermuda Air Terminal.) The associated sedimentation, turbidity and altered hydrology caused a mass mortality of corals, especially of the major reef-building genus Diploria. While there has been post-dredging recruitment of corals, D. strigosa, a species sensitive to sedimentation, has been particularly slow to recover and is less prevalent at this site than elsewhere in Bermuda. Ship groundings comprise the second class of event: since 1940, thirteen major ship groundings have occurred on the reefs which have destroyed an estimated 1% of the outer reefs. Studies of the recovery and recruitment of corals at a major grounding site indicate that these processes occur very slowly in Bermuda. It is estimated that 100-150 years would be required to restore coral coverage and species diversity, with species of Diploria being particularly slow to recover. Recent episodes of coral bleaching in Bermuda are considered to have had very little effect on coral populations and reefs.


Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami



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Life Sciences | Marine Biology


Fifty Years of Impacts on Coral Reefs in Bermuda
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