Bermuda’s reefs have endured the impact of 400 years of human settlement and resource extraction. Although the reef system has benefited from pro-active regulation and control of fishing and pollution since the twentieth century, the nearshore environment and lagoon reefs are threatened by ongoing and planned activities. Coastal development, including cruise ship ports, marinas and shipping channel expansion are significant potential threats through reef removal and sedimentation. The dense human population on Bermuda has produced chronic chemical and nutrient pollution in nearshore bays and harbours. Sewage has reduced water quality in some enclosed bays but is generally not a major threat. Coral bleaching has occurred repeatedly since the 1980s, in response to elevated seawater temperatures, but these events have not resulted in significant mortality. Corals diseases are prevalent at low levels of infection in a large number of species but do not appear to have caused significant mortality. The invasive lionfish (Pterios volitans) is present and the population is growing but culling and harvesting efforts are conducted. There is great concern for the potential impacts of climate-related changes, in particular ocean acidification. Bermuda’s corals grow at reduced rates compared with Caribbean conspecifics and there is evidence that some corals are already growing slower, under the current condition of declining aragonite saturation state in reef waters. The potential for reduced coral and reef growth, in combination with rising sea level, may compromise the effectiveness of the reef as a natural barrier to storm waves, resulting in greater coastal erosion.

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-5965-7_13