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Understanding the Caribbean Coral Reefs of Bermuda by Laura Jeeves

Understanding the Caribbean Coral Reefs of Bermuda by
Article Posted: 12/01/2016
Article Views: 270
Articles Written: 4010
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Understanding the Caribbean Coral Reefs of Bermuda

Travel & Tourism
The clean, clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean that lap the shores of Bermuda are absolutely teeming with life. The surrounding reefs are part of an intricate ecosystem that supports an incredible diversity of life - from the microscopic zooplankton, to a huge range of endemic fish species, sharks, dolphins and whales.

The vibrant, colourful Caribbean coral reefs are renowned throughout the world and many of my clients visit Bermuda specifically for the superb diving and snorkelling opportunities. (Along with the abundant marine life there are several hundred submerged wrecks that have come to grief in the 200sqm of water that surround the islands.)

Fascinating Formations

The three different types that occur are:

Fringing – These are formed closest to land along the shore and can extend quite far out into the ocean.

Barrier – Evolving from the above type (according to Charles Darwin, at least) this is a zone of coral that begins offshore around the edge of a shallow lagoon.

Atoll – A ring shaped formation that encircles a lagoon. In theory, the whole of Bermuda is actually situated within an atoll.

Bermuda is surrounded by the most northerly of the Caribbean coral reefs, with the particularly warm waters (courtesy of the Atlantic Gulf Stream) providing the perfect conditions to support their growth. Many of them are quite large, with the majority being fringing.

Not All Caribbean Coral Reefs Are the Same

If you're snorkelling or diving around Bermuda you can explore three distinctly different zones.


Formed in the lagoons of the island, with depths of around 10-20 metres, parts of these can often be quite close to the shore. Because of the calm conditions and reduced wave action they are often affected by sedimentation; they consist predominantly of soft corals that can withstand the conditions and deflect or resist the high volume of silt. They are the hardest to see while snorkelling, as the water can be quite cloudy from the amount of sedimentation.

The Rims

Often vast in size, these are so named because they develop as a 'rim' around the outer edges of a lagoon. (The well-known North Rock is an example.) They can be anything from two to ten metres beneath the surface of the water, so offer excellent visibility for snorkellers and divers. In most cases they're made up of brain and star corals – the former of which looks like a brain and the latter which looks like a star. Simple to recognise and remember!

The Terraces

Very easy to see in the deep, open water, the Terraces form the outer protective barrier around the island, preventing large waves and strong currents. Appearing beyond the Rims, they're also made up mainly of hard star and brain corals. For snorkellers and divers, these are the most dramatic and accessible sites to visit.

Top Local Tips

Home to some of the most impressive and accessible Caribbean coral reefs, these sites are a few of my top tips not to miss while you're visiting Bermuda:

  • Blue Hole – an incredible multi-level site with visibility to a depth of 55 feet
  • South West Breaker – quite shallow, great visibility and fantastic for beginner divers
  • North Rock – shallow, accessible and absolutely vast (also a protected marine reserve)
  • The Basilica and Cathedral – ranging from shallow (15ft) to very deep (55ft), this popular site is probably the most accessible being close to the harbour.
After so many years visiting this wonderful destination, I'm convinced there's no better place to discover the fascinating world that exists just beneath our oceans.


Author Plate

John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. If you're interested in exploring the magnificent Caribbean coral reefs around Bermuda, John can help find your perfect accommodation. An expert in luxury accommodation in Bermuda, Croatia, Sicily and many other destinations around the globe for over 30 years, John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.

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