Bermuda reefs could be ‘canary in the coal mine’ warning for acid seas

Bermuda’s coral reefs could act as an early warning system for other reef systems as they could be the first to see damage caused by increasing acidification of the oceans, Rotarians heard this week.

Hamilton Rotary heard from Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) oceanographer, Dr. Andreas Andersson who said that because of the high latitude location of the Island and the cold temperatures during the winter, Bermuda’s coral reefs are more susceptible to corrosion than the Caribbean’s.

“As the oceans continue to absorb carbon dioxide from human activities and become increasingly acidic, the coral reef of Bermuda will experience critical conditions before its counterparts in the Caribbean.

“Hence, the coral reefs of Bermuda may act as the ‘canary in a coal mine’ in terms of the effect of ocean acidification on corals and coral reef ecosystems,” he said.

Investigators at BIOS are currently researching the effects of ocean acidification locally and globally and are trying to develop an ocean acidification research centre.

According to Dr. Andersson, carbon dioxide levels would not slow down, but rather continue to build which could kill off the reefs, affecting human and marine life.

Tauria Raynor, The Royal Gazette, 9 May 2009. Full article.

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