Island of Coral Resilience Shows Hope – and Limits – for Reefs’ Future


In 2014, leading coral scientists put out a blunt report: reefs in the Caribbean were in such bad shape they were at risk of vanishing within two decades. And that was before the most recent global coral-bleaching crisis hit the region hard in 2015.

As the Caribbean’s reefs were dying, some 1,000 miles to the north in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, scientists in Bermuda were on edge. They were receiving sea temperature reports that could spell trouble for the tiny island’s reefs.

But no worry was necessary, it turned out. Bermuda’s reefs experienced little bleaching. In fact, the northernmost reef in the Atlantic Ocean is still among the healthiest in the wider Caribbean region.

“We typically are reprieved from some of the big global issues around coral bleaching,” said Samantha de Putron, a marine biologist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). “We go out and see some of the corals starting to go, and then typically, it’ll be two weeks and the temperatures naturally come down.”

Today, Bermuda’s reefs are still going strong – reason for hope given the continuing global coral catastrophe, BIOS president William B. Curry told an international ocean conference held on the island in May.