Bermuda benefits from reinsurer Catlin’s coral reef record

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  • Sea change for ocean science: Pictured at their Bermuda offices are Catlin Bermuda CEO Graham Pewter and Catlin Group CEO Stephen Catlin. The company yesterday launched the Catlin Global Reef Record, a free-access database. 

(Photo by Akil Simmons)

    Sea change for ocean science: Pictured at their Bermuda offices are Catlin Bermuda CEO Graham Pewter and Catlin Group CEO Stephen Catlin. The company yesterday launched the Catlin Global Reef Record, a free-access database. (Photo by Akil Simmons)


Bermuda stands to benefit greatly from a scientific initiative launched and funded by Catlin Group, which is giving the re/insurer global recognition.

The freely available Catlin Global Reef Record went live yesterday with data and tens of thousands of images captured by the Catlin Seaview Survey in the past few years.

The Record gives scientists comprehensive data on the state of the world’s coral reefs, including Bermuda’s.

Catlin, which employs 75 people in Bermuda, is not only helping to shed light on the health of the Island’s coral reefs, but it is also working with Government to increase ocean science education in schools.

Catlin is currently surveying the shallow and deep reefs around Bermuda. Images taken just a few days ago confirm coral bleaching taking place in our waters.

Speaking yesterday from his company’s offices above the Washington Mall, Catlin Group CEO Stephen Catlin said the idea behind the initiative is to carry out “impartial environmental research” with “properly collected, verifiable data” that the scientific community can then use to determine what is really happening in the oceans.

He believes it also benefits the re/insurance industry.

“I do think it is helping people in the business to have a more broad view of risk and to think outside the box,” Mr Catlin said.

He noted the Catlin Seaview Survey was born out of the 2009 Catlin Arctic Survey, which measured the thickness of Arctic ice.

“One of the unintended benefits of the Survey, is people are coming up to me all around the world saying, I can’t thank you enough for this research’,” he said.

Only a fifth of the way through the Survey, Mr Catlin noted it already has four times the amount of data than National Geographic’s records.

Calling Bermuda “A sentinel of climate change”, Catlin said corals are considered the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.

“While Bermuda’s reefs are proving to be resilient to change, conditions in the Atlantic are changing rapidly, which exemplifies the need for the Catlin Global Reef Record to establish important baselines in partnership with the scientists of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) and other local scientific partners,” Catlin stated.

“The Catlin Seaview Survey kicked off its latest expedition on September 18 and is currently surveying the shallow and deep reefs around Bermuda. Among the scientific findings, the team has found that reefs 40 to 60 feet below the surface are currently undergoing a small amount of coral bleaching — confirming an alert originally announced by NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch (CRW) Satellite Bleaching Alert (SBA) system.

“The area is under a Level 1 alert, which indicates that high water temperatures have been sustained for more than four weeks, causing algae growing inside the corals to become toxic. Some areas close by are under a Level 2 alert, which means mortality is likely. Scientists from the project will be testing how effective the SVII camera and image recognition procedures are at detecting and measuring the amount of bleaching on Bermuda’s reef systems.

“This could represent a powerful technique for rapidly responding to stress events such as mass coral bleaching and mortality,” said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.

“Enabling rapid yet highly accurate techniques such as these will almost certainly improve our ability to understand and respond to the threats posed by warming seas.”

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Published Sep 24, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm)

Bermuda benefits from reinsurer Catlin’s coral reef record

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