Bermuda Benthic Mapping, Monitoring and Assessment Programme

The Benthic Mapping, Monitoring and Assessment Programme (BMMAP) was initiated in 2006, by the Department of Conservation Services. The implementation of this programme was prompted by the general lack of baseline information regarding the distribution and condition of Bermuda’s benthic communities and related physical and chemical marine environmental parameters. This knowledge is essential to conserving Bermuda’s extensive marine ecosystems. A primary goal of the programme is to acquire data that allow recognition of and possible causal association of any ongoing changes in the benthic environment.

BMMAP has three components:

1. The benthic habitat assessment, mapping and monitoring: an annual programme where we survey approximately 170 sites across the Bermuda platform each summer for 5 years, and then in year 6 we will re-survey the sites from year 1 and so on.

 Benthic habitat monitoring sites (2006 - 2008)

Benthic habitat monitoring sites (2006 - 2008)

2. Seagrass monitoring studies: a quarterly programme at 17 permanent sites. This is to look at seasonal variability in the environment and the seagrass. Seagrasses are excellent bioindicators of changes in environmental health because they respond quickly to changes in the marine environment.

 Water quality and seagrass monitoring sites

Water quality and seagrass monitoring sites

3. Water quality monitoring programme: water samples are collected and physical water characteristics are measured monthly at the same 17 sites where we do the seagrass monitoring. Continuous temperature data loggers are installed at all these sites. The water samples are sent to Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University where the chemical parameters are analysed.

To date, the BMMAP programme has produced the most comprehensive publicly available data set for both marine benthic communities and physical and chemical oceanographic parameters of the Bermuda platform.

Other data and results from the programme are available upon request from the Department of Conservation Services.

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