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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online
To refer by e-mail to this file use "bermuda-online.org/fauna" as your Subject
Advance information on Bermuda - from our files exclusively.
Of more than 1600 resident terrestrial plants and animal species, only 27% are native.
Bulletin of Marine Science. Bermuda Natural History Museum. The issue prior to July 14, 2000 had an inventory by Dr. Wolfgang Sterrer on the number of species (at least 8,299) of flora and fauna then in Bermuda, of which 4,597 are marine and 3,702 are terrestrial.
Bermuda's new Protected Species Act 2003 became law on 1st March 2004. Endemic animals are shown below by name and description. Except for birds, no prior legislation existed. The new act called for a proactive approach to the protection of local species threatened with extinction, and their habitats. Protected species include 27 plants, birds, animals and marine organisms, plus 21 cave organisms, as threatened and 'listed' according to international criteria. Recovery plans for the other species include the Bermuda Cedar, Palmetto and Yellowwood, plus fern and flowering plant species. Wildlife includes the Cahow, Longtail, White-eyed Vireo, Skink, turtles, whales, a species of snail, the tiny Cave Shrimp and other crustaceans. The Bermuda Protected Species Act 2003 allows for the listing of threatened species and recovery plans for active intervention, in order to enhance population levels. The Protected Species Recovery Plan project is funded by the UK Overseas Territory Environmental Programme (OTEP).
Bermuda does not have alligators, badgers, buffalo, chipmunks, crocodiles, deer, ferrets, giraffes, hedgehogs, lions, moles, mongooses, moose, raccoons, skunks, snakes, squirrels, stoats, tigers, weasels or zebras. A recent attempt to bring in skunks for domestic purposes was defeated.
Animals are mostly imported originally or more recently, but a few are endemic or native. All the following were imported originally, except those shown otherwise
1978 Bermuda Postage Stamp
Eumeces longirostris. It is Bermuda's only endemic, non-flying, non-swimming terrestrial vertebrate. It was described as endemic and unique to Bermuda in 1860 by P. H. Pope, the Smithsonian herpetologist. Its fossil bones, dating back 300,000 years or more, have been found in local limestone caves. Now quite rare in most parishes, largely restricted to pockets of coast and isolated islands. An adult can grow up to seven inches long. It is a protected endangered species. It is quite different to those imported from the Caribbean.
People from Scotland who are familiar with the national dish called Cullen Skink can rest assured that they are not eating a Rock Lizard or any other kind of skink of the type mentioned above or below.
Caribbean and other species here are the:
In mid-2011 Government sought your help in tracking two recently introduced species of lizard. The Asian and Mediterranean geckos are easily distinguished as they have a mottled tan, brown or grey skin with distinctive bumps all over the body. Also the pupil of the eye is orientated vertically.
This type is commonly seen and apprehensive to many people, especially tourists from the USA (more than 80% of all visitors), Canada, UK and Europe. It has long legs and huge sac, but is harmless. Other spiders include colorful ones with tiny shell-like backs. They are also harmless. Once, particularly when Bermuda cedar trees were common (until the 1950s), there were other spiders including very small black and white ones with a hard shell.
Megachile spp. Extremely rare in Bermuda, known to inhabit Nonsuch Island. A native of the western USA. In Bermuda, most are approximately the size of the common honeybee, although they are somewhat darker with light bands on the abdomen. They also have different habits. Leafcutter bees are not aggressive and sting only when handled. Their sting is very mild, much less painful than that of honeybees or yellow jacket wasps. Leafcutter bees are solitary bees, meaning that they don't produce colonies as do social insects.
Two species, Eleutherodactylus johnstonei and Eleutherodactylus gossei (first is shown in 1979 Bermuda Postage Stamp graphic here) sing loudly at night. They are one of the most characteristic night sounds of Bermuda between April and November. They are not indigenous - both were introduced accidentally sometime prior to 1880, most likely on orchids imported from the Lesser Antilles. They can be found elsewhere in temperate and sub-tropical regions.
They are so small they can sit on a thumbnail. They have tiny suction discs on long, slender toes. They can be heard island-wide when the weather is warm enough but are most common in the Parishes of Devonshire, Paget, Pembroke and Warwick. Their song is the sound of males trying to attract females. The first of the two is more common and smaller. The other has almost disappeared. Both are brownish, nocturnal, living in trees near the ground and by day hiding under stones and leaf litter.
Many visitors are not used to the whistling song, a loud bell-like chorus, of these tiny and harmless creatures. Some visitors say it disturbs their sleep but others love it because it adds a unique sound to the atmosphere. Some newly-weds say it keeps them awake and explains their sleepy eyes the next morning. Whistling frogs do not require standing water for breeding but pass through their tadpole stage within the egg itself. Clusters of eggs are laid in damp situations among rotting vegetation or under stones.
Tree frog captured by digital camera. Photo kindly lent by Bertram Forbes
Afforded a certain amount of protection under Bermuda's Protection of Birds Act 1975. Overall, only 23 birds breed in Bermuda, but there are over 200 different types of migrant birds that visit every year.
Extract from a Bermuda Post Office "Bermuda Wildlife Definitive Part 1" series of 1978
Fulica americana, common.
Phaethon lepturus catesbyi. Graphic to the left from a 1978 Bermuda Postage Stamp. Yellow billed, white-tailed tropic bird, not indigenous but native. It is a national symbol and many souvenirs and pieces of jewelry are made with its image, some locally in gold and silver. The white-tailed tropic bird - or longtail as Bermudians know it - is Bermuda’s traditional harbinger of spring and one of the most beautiful features of our coastline during the summer months. Nesting from April to October in holes and crevices of the coastal cliffs and islands - mostly in the Castle Harbour islands - where it is safer from human disturbance and introduced mammal predators, it is the only native seabird to have survived in numbers comparable to its primeval abundance on Bermuda. Once, up to about 1978, at least 3,000 nesting pairs used to breed along most of the coastline but the numbers have declined steadily due to coastline development, increased disturbance from an expanding population, and predation by illegally-stray stray dogs, cats, crows and oil pollution at sea. Also, they compete compete with pigeons for nests. Other factors include global warming and its higher sea levels that flood lower nest sites. Hurricanes Felix and Adrian in September 2004 destroyed many nests and filled others with rock. There is a longtail housing crisis. To try to solve the problem of weather, nature and global warming, longtail igloos were invented in 1997 as an emergency measure to provide alternative nesting sites. They are made of SKB roofing material and provide good insulation and shelter from the sun. They are light but strong with a concrete covering that provides camouflage and holds the nest in place. 35 longtail igloos are now in place on Nonsuch Island and seem to be working well. Longtails have such small feet that they are unable to walk on land and hence do all their nest searching on the wing. It is this constant searching back and forth along the cliffs, combined with their aerial courtship display, which involves touching the tips of the long tail feathers together in paired flight, that makes them so conspicuous on our coastline. The single purplish-red speckled egg is laid in April and hatches in late May. The chick takes approximately 65 days to fledge and departs to sea on its own in late July or early August. Longtails do all of their feeding far out on the open ocean where they plunge from a height onto unsuspecting fish and squid like a gannet. During the winter months, the population disperses throughout the Sargasso Sea and remains out of sight of land. Evidently, the birds sleep on the wing or on the water if it is calm.
1978 Bermuda Postage Stamp.
Pterodroma cahow. Graphic to the left from a 1978 Bermuda Postage Stamp. A native, it was once prolific but consumed with gusto by early colonists. It was considered extinct until quite recently. It is rare and protected. It is believed to have been in Bermuda for 300,000 years. Heard only during the winter months, the cahow earned its Christmas bird name from mariners who became involuntary early temporary colonists after their ships going elsewhere were damaged on the reefs. It is said that they were so frightened by the nocturnal cries of this once abundant bird that they referred to Bermuda as the Isles of Devils. When the first settlers arrived in 1609 and 1612, it is believed there were half a million cahows. They were so easy to catch and eat they were hunted to what was thought to be extinction. In 1951, Dr. Cushman Murphy of the USA finally arrived in Bermuda from a museum in New York City, after having been pestered for years by Samuel Ristich to do so. Ristich had served in Bermuda with the US Army Air Corps and had found a cahow. When Murphy came down, he found five living cahows, believed to have been extinct since 1650. As a direct result of Murphy's visit and unique find, Dr. David Wingate started his breeding program for cahows on Nonsuch Island shortly afterwards. Dr. David Wingate discovered 16 pairs still living on Nonsuch Island in 1951. In 2002, more than 65 breeding pairs were identified. They fly over the sea but return to Bermuda to begin courtship activities in late October. They mate for life and produce only one egg each year. The female lays a single white egg in January and in early March a chick covered in dense grey down emerges. Young chicks leave Bermuda in late May or early June and spend their first eight years of life on the open ocean before returning as adults to breed. Like most petrels, cahows are nocturnal and land only to breed. They nest in a soil burrow the bird excavates.
1978 Bermuda Postage Stamp.
Pitangus sulphuratus. Noisy, aggressive, yellow breasted and striped headed shown in right graphic, known in American books on birds as the Great Kiskadee. It has contributed to serious declines of the native species chick-of-the-village, Northern cardinal and catbird. It is a very large, big-headed flycatcher, near size of a Belted Kingfisher, somewhat like that bird in actions, even catching small fish. It has rufous wings and tail. The bright yellow under parts and crown patch and strikingly patterned black and white face identify it. The local variety were imported from Trinidad in 1957 as worker-birds in hope they would be beneficial. Their hoped-for function was to control - by consumption - the Anolis lizards which had incurred a bad reputation from their diet of ladybirds. But they did nothing to control the lizards. They are now among the most common birds in Trinidad. They are also natives of southern Texas and Louisiana, south to Argentina and residents of the lower Rio Grande Valley. They very rarely stray north to Arizona from western Mexico. Its bright pattern is unique in North America.
It is omnivorous. It feeds mostly on large insects, such as beetles, wasps, grasshoppers, bees, and moths; but also eats lizards, mice, baby birds, frogs, tadpoles, and small fish, many berries, small fruits and some seeds. It forages in various ways, often going from its perch flies out from its perch to catch flying insects in the air. It will perch on branch low over water and plunge into water for fish, tadpoles, or insects. It often eats berries in trees and shrubs.
Both female and male mates actively defend nesting territory against intruders of their own species and are quick to mob any predators that venture too close. The nesting site is usually among dense branches of a tree or large shrub, 6-50' above the ground, usually 10-20' up. The nest is a large bulky structure, more or less round, with the entrance on the side. Nest is built of grass, weeds, strips of bark, Spanish moss, and other plant fibers, and lined with grass. The female usually lays 4 eggs, sometimes 2-5. They are creamy white, dotted with dark brown and lavender. Both adults help to feed the young in the nest.
Without knowing it beforehand, with the kiskadees Bermuda allowed in a veritable bird gang of terrorists. Those 200 original yellow-breasted kiskadees have become the prolific and noisy Mafioso of Bermuda's bird lands, trees, shrubs and telephone wires - and a major threat to the lives, feeding and nesting habits of Bermuda's beautiful bluebirds and other birds as well as to soft-skinned local fruit, crabs, fish and other choice edibles. Also, they were the major reason for the extinction of the endemic Cicada (known locally as Singers) by the late 1990s.
Comes frequently and some of the species are naturalized.
Plain brown, common. Introduced in 1870.
Sialia sialis. Native. Once very common, it nested in hollows of cedar trees, on coastal cliffs and even under eaves of houses. As a cavity nester, it became especially vulnerable to nest site competition from the English house sparrow. With the Bermuda cedar spoilage in the 1950s and its repercussions, the population declined by more than 80%. An artificial wooden nest book program was introduced which has had limited success, but still a firm favorite among many Bermudians and other residents. Loves concrete bird baths with lots of water and can splash around in them for ages. This Bermuda postage stamp honors them.
1978 Bermuda Postage Stamp
Not native, can be seen at the Bermuda Aquarium.
Yellow crowned night herons (Nyctanassa violacea), once brought in to keep down the land crab population, were re-established from 46 birds imported from Florida in the 1970s. They are now native.
Zenaida macroura, common. Similar to a wood pigeon.
Cardinalis cardinalis. Bermudians know it as Redbird. First introduced to Bermuda from Virginia in about 1700 as a cage bird, but once released became such a farm pest that bounties were offered for its capture. It became so abundant that during the 19th century many thousands locally were trapped for resale abroad as cage birds. Not all that common today, despite being officially protected. A favorite for many, it has bright red plumage and a loud cheery song. Likes bird feeders and has a preference for sunflower seeds.
1978 Bermuda Postage Stamp.
Podilymisus podiceyps. Common.
Introduced in the 1950s. An invasive which feeds on the fruits of the hugely invasive Indian Laurel tree and spreads even more invasive seeds throughout Bermuda.
Vireo griseus bermudianus. Known to Bermudians as Chick of the Village in imitation of its cheery song which is sung throughout the year. An endemic sub-species characterized by shorter wings and duller plumage compared to its American first cousin. An insect-eating bird of the forest canopy, it was originally associated with Bermuda’s once-large, long-gone cedar and palmetto forest. The almost total destruction of the Bermuda cedar tree in the 1940s and 1950s by accidentally introduced insect pests nearly caused its extinction, but it has recovered.
1978 Bermuda Postage Stamp.
Various species, as outlined in http://www.tamug.edu/cavebiology/fauna/PhotoGallery/Bermuda/Bermuda-crustaceans-1.html
There are many types of sea fish, all similar to what are found off Florida and in the Caribbean, but none are indigenous to Bermuda. There are also blackish pond fish, killifish (see below), several of which are unique to Bermuda.
In sea fish, wahoo and yellowfin tuna are two of the most important species. They are also an important component of the offshore recreational fishery. Traditionally caught during their spring and fall "runs", these species pass by Bermuda during annual migrations that take them throughout the central Atlantic, although small individuals may remain in the area through the summer. It is thought that the Bermuda Seamount is an important feeding stop for these species during their long migratory journeys.
Fishes of Bermuda publication. 1999. Updated in 2013.
In 2013 this species was declared by the Smithsonian Institution to be endemic to Bermuda but closely allied to its Caribbean cousin
Odontosyllis enopla, (glow worms). Two superb accounts.
1. They are often scarce except in summer, can shine several times a year, including in August, especially at Ferry Reach. They produce a fine light display in shallow sandy waters, especially in its mating ritual. It is at its best on the third night after the full moon on a warm summer night and 53 minutes after sunset. Glowworms inhabit protected bays, living in silky mucus tubes amongst the sediment of rock-strewn seabeds. Often overlooked except on summer nights they dazzle onlookers with their magnificent natural light show. Female worms leave the safety of the rocky bottom and swim to the surface where they swarm in circular patterns, releasing a bright green luminescent substance intended to attract males. The rings of bright green light are amazing, but the light show gets even better when excited males make a frenzied dash towards their female targets. Upon making contact, males and females release an explosion of glowing gametes into the water in their sexual frenzy. The display lasts about 10 minutes. Males and females squirm and sperm in an orgasmic sudden green flash. The shallow bays of the panting sea creatures light up. Then suddenly they shudder, gasp and are still. Sites for the show, not near electric lights, have included the small bridge at the end of Ferry Reach Park, St. David's, Flatts and Ely's Harbour. Viewing is best three nights after a full moon. Fewer and fewer worms join in on succeeding nights.
2. They only spawn at full moon, the girls literally 'light up' at the prospect of finding a mate, and dozens of tourists hang out in boats to watch them at it. This is the weird and wonderful world of Bermuda's famous fireworms. They generally "dance and mate" between early August and early September. The female fireworm emits her strikingly beautiful green light as she whirls frantically in circles to attract a mate. She releases her glowing eggs when he darts up and reaches the 'bull's eye' of her circle, producing a bright flash himself as he releases his sperm. According to scientific studies, it's a common occurrence for several males to be attracted to a single female, which results in them all rotating in a tight circle as the males discharge their sperm into the water. Spawning begins at full moon and reaches a peak three days afterwards. The females appear at the water's surface between 51 and 63 minutes after sunset in a display that only lasts a few minutes. The mesmerizing fireworms are actually marine relatives of the familiar earthworm and their Latin name – Odontosyllis enopla – translates as the toothed and necklaced worm." The creatures are only ten to 20 millimeters long and inhabit the sandy bottoms of Bermuda's bays and inlets, with Ferry Reach being one of the best spots to see them, according to seasoned worm watchers. The males are smaller than the females but have larger eyes, in keeping with their sensitivity to the light given off by the females. According to They are "equally stimulated by the beam from a flashlight. The green glow emitted by the fireworms – found throughout the tropical western Atlantic – is the product of bioluminescence, a light produced by a chemical reaction in a living organism. They only produce their dance of light during mating activities – although some scientists have observed that they also glow in response to being startled. Little is known about what exactly triggers the mating ritual which can be predicted with extraordinary accuracy and much mystery still surrounds these fascinating creatures. It's even been suggested that they were responsible for the strange patches of light seen by Christopher Columbus four hours before he first made landfall in America.
The largest and most complete collection of Bermuda shells to be found anywhere in the world was donated in October 2001 to the Natural History Museum at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. They were collected by retired banker Jack Lightbourn and his late colleague and friend Arthur Guest since 1965. There are about 7,700 species in all in the collection, with several endemic.
One particularly interesting live shell is the Atlantic Trumpet Triton found in local waters. A Bermuda 40c stamp was issued to note it in philately
A marine bivalve mollusk of the genus Macrocallista, especially M. nimbosa, having a smooth, thick, rounded shell marked with violet-brown or lilac spots or streaks. Not to be confused with scallops, these were once reared in Harrington Sound, in a Bermuda Government project. A protected species since 1978. They are under the sand.
The Atlantic calico scallop, Argopecten gibbus, is a species of medium-sized edible saltwater clam, specifically a scallop, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Pectinidae. Sometimes known as Zigzag scallops, featured on a recent 45 cent Bermuda stamp, once reared in Harrington Sound, in a Bermuda Government project. They have been a protected species since 1978 in Bermuda but are eaten readily in other places.
In 2014 the Smithsonian Institution declared this species of fish was endemic to Bermuda.
Residents and visitors should note that under the Fisheries (Protected Species) Order 1978, the Queen Conch (Strombus Gigas) and the Harbour Conch (Strombus Costatus) are illegal to import, an offence to purchase and possess and illegal to obtain and take from Bermuda waters.
The Queen Conch - the first of several endangered native species to receive Government protection. Strombus gigas was abundant in Bermuda until the late 1960s but by the end of the Seventies, populations had reached very low levels. At present, most of the Queen Conch in the Island's waters are 'old individuals', with substantial algal and coral growth. Few juveniles have been seen, raising concern for the species' survival. Although the species has been protected from removal from the water since the Fisheries Act 1978, it has only recently been listed under the Protected Species Act 2003 as "endangered". The Queen Conch is now the first subject of a series of action plans to conserve Bermuda's marine and terrestrial threatened species. Despite a complete ban from fishing and/or taking since 1978 under local laws, there has been no conservation programme for this species to date.
Cardisoma Guanhumi. An illusive and rare species in Bermuda. The female can be nearly a foot long in width. One this size was caught in October 2001.
It is quite common along the upper slope of South Shore beaches, but most are smaller.
It makes holes in the sand.
The crab is nocturnal and can be found poking and digging around in the sand at night or on a very cloudy, blustery day at ebb tide.
Its habitat in Bermuda (where it has been seen in the mangrove swamp area of Hungry Bay, Paget, is somewhat different to that of say, northern Florida.
There, it usually includes glass worts (Salicornia sp.), salt meadow hay (Spartina alterniflora), sweet bay, (Magnolia virginiana), youpon (Ilex vomitoria), fiddler crabs (Uca sp), and an occasional raccoon (not present in Bermuda).
Considered a highly prized food in the Caribbean, in stew pots, but not eaten in Bermuda. It is fortunate that one of its foods in the Caribbean, the poisonous fruit of the Manchineel tree, does not grow in Bermuda.
Often but erroneously referred to as the Bermuda Sand Dollar, the Keyhole refers to three species of sand dollar in the genus Mellita that are dispersed along the east coast of the United States from Virginia to Brazil and also found along the coasts of Bermuda, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. Mellita isometra is found along the east coast of the United States, Mellita tenuis is found along the gulf side of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Mellita quinquiesperforata is found from near the Mississippi Delta to Brazil. See it in shallow waters below tide lines in sandy bottoms, burrowing for protection from waves and predators, and to obtain food. It feeds on fine particles of organic matter they filter from the water. A flat version of a sea urchin, reaching up to three inches in diameter and disk-like in shape. It differs greatly from the closely related cousin, however: the underside is usually flat or concave with the mouth directly in the center and the anus to one side. Its mouth is made up of five teeth arranged in a circle that form what is called, "Aristotle's lantern". Its skeleton is called a test and covered with an epidermis, spines (used in burrowing), tube feet (used for locomotion), and cilia. On its upper surface, petalloids (used as gills), specialized tube feet, are arranged in a pattern favoring five flower petals. Five oval shaped holes, called lunules, pierce the tests in keyhole urchins. There are two pairs of lunules, one pair toward the top and one large longer hole in between the second pair toward the bottom. Coloration of the keyhole sand dollar varies, including tan, brown, and occasionally grayish or green hue. The Sand dollar pass through several life stages. After eggs have been fertilized they develop into swimming larvae. It drifts in the sea water as plankton for four to six weeks, filtering tiny organisms. Juvenile keyhole urchins grow into adults, and live on the ocean floor. Natural enemies of the keyhole sand dollar are bottom feeding fishes
At least two species of killifish are endemic to Bermuda. Prior to 2005, very little was known about them. The Lover’s Lake killifish (Fundulus relictus) is found in saltwater ponds in the east end of the island. The Bermuda killifish (Fundulus bermudae) lives in both brackish and saltwater ponds from Hamilton Parish to Somerset. They are sometimes referred to as ‘mangrove minnows.’ The two species look identical, and grow to around 10cm long. The females are olive green, dark grey or light orange-brown with a light colored belly. Males are dark colored, and often with a yellow or gold belly. Both sexes may have vertical dark colored bars. In the breeding season. the males display an ocellus or eye spot, which is a dark spot circled with white on the dorsal fin. Killifish are a key part of the ecology of Bermuda’s ponds. They eat a variety of small prey, including mosquito larvae. They in turn are eaten by resident and migrant water birds (particularly herons) and larger fish such as freshwater eels and marine fish like snappers. Fundulus relictus and Fundulus bermudae are considered endangered, and were added to the Bermuda-protected species list in January 2012 as level 2 protected species. A Protected Species Recovery Plan for killifish was published in December 2012. The plan details the threats to killifish and actions needed to improve the conservation status of both species. Fundulus bermudae were first illustrated in Beebe and Tee-Van's 1933 "Field Book of Shore Fishes of Bermuda. " A favorite place is a fresh to brackish water pond, especially when fringed with mangroves.
Beautiful but potentially deadly poisonous fish. It found its way to Bermuda from the Pacific in 2001 and was reported in a local newspaper on December 28, 2001 when one was caught off a local beach. It is about 12 inches long and was introduced to the Atlantic. There have since been many sightings on Bermuda beaches. There are lots of different species. If you get one in your swim suit, you will be stung badly.
Really crayfish. Not indigenous. Very expensive. Biggest ever caught in Bermuda was in 1932, with a weight of 16 lbs. Second biggest was in 1983 of 15 lbs and with an arm span of five feet eight and a half inches. It is against the law to catch any from April 1 to August 31 each year and at other times only by residents specifically licensed to do so.
These dangerous stinging jellyfish are present on the ocean or a beach at certain times of year and should be avoided like the plague.
While coral reefs are common elsewhere, Bermuda is one of the northernmost areas in the Western Hemisphere. (But by no means the northernmost place in the world for coral reefs, as is commonly but mistakenly claimed, as there are cold-water and other coral reefs on the coastlines of Spain and Portugal throughout the northeast Atlantic, stretching north in the Irish sea, then due north, northwest and northeast all the way up to Norway).
Cold-water corals form a rich habitat for deep-water species hunted by fishing trawlers mostly from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, France and Norway. Coral reefs alone cover an area twice the length of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Only in all the islands of Bermuda, the islands of the Bahamas including Harbour Island and at least five places in Scotland is the sand pink, but not because of the warm water corals. It is untrue to say that Bermuda's beaches have coarser sand. In fact, the sand in Bermuda is exceptionally fine. Bermuda's coral reefs, from where the forams come, are in better condition than many Bahamas reefs. Many Caribbean reefs have the disease known as YBD. By comparison, there has been only one recorded case of YBD in Bermuda recently. Local coral diseases are mostly BBD, less infected, the majority of them brain corals.
Corals are the critical organisms in coral reefs formation because their calcium carbonate (limestone) skeletons create the framework of reefs that build up over thousands of years into a massive structure that supports the living corals and a great variety of other plant and animal life.
The coral Skolymia cubensis, not recorded until the 1970s, is now relatively common.
Corals thrive in areas where strong wave action aerates the water, increasing the supply of food and oxygen. Waves also prevent silt from accumulating and suffocating the coral.
Very important to the marine ecosystem. They link mangrove communities to coral reefs. The four species in Bermuda are Thalassia testudinum (turtle grass); Syringodium (manatee grass); Halodule wrightii (shoal grass, common) and Halophila decipiens (rare).
Three species have been recorded in Bermuda, Hippocampus reidi; Hippocampus erectus; and Hippocampus zosterae. Not endemic, now endangered or vulnerable, on the World Conservation Red List of Threatened Animals.
Newly discovered (2008) Botryocladia flookii seaweed, a type of seaweed that had never before been studied or catalogued, was named after Chris Flook, the collector of specimens and the Bermuda Lionfish Project coordinator for the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo.Dr. Schneider and Dr. Lane, visiting scientists, published their findings about this in a 2008 copy of the scientific journal Phycologia. Dr. Lane is a professor of biology at the University of Rhode Island and has been to Bermuda many times. Dr. Schneider has been coming to Bermuda since the 1970's. Dr. Lane said Bermuda waters offer types of seaweed not found in the Caribbean. He noted that no original research had been done on the subject in more than 50 years which is why he and Dr. Schneider are working on cataloguing Bermuda's various types of seaweed. "It's a red seaweed commonly known as sea grapes. It is found in deeper water as well as at the low tide mark at coves. As far as we know this is the only place on the planet it is found."
They usually stay beyond - not inside - the reefs but Bermuda's history records several deaths by swimmers in the 1900s. Unlike in Britain, they are not protected. When caught locally, their liver often becomes shark oil in home-made barometers.
In endangered caves, including
Only three of the seven known species in Bermuda have been traced recently.
Commercially usable sponges were once common in in the waters of Harrington Sound but have died out completely.
Copidaster lymani, are now native.
In late 2013 the Smithsonian in Washington DC declared this species was endemic to Bermuda.
Bermuda is a sanctuary for whales - humpback, blue, northern - and dolphins in its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone under the Fisheries (Protected Species) Order of the Fisheries Act.
Updated: August 19, 2014.
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