Bermuda

Author: Alison Copeland. Biodiversity Officer, Department of Conservation Services, Government of Bermuda 

About the territory

The name ‘Bermuda’ comes from the Spanish explorer Juan de Bermudez, who is credited with discovering the islands in about 1505. The islands were settled in 1609 by the English crew of the ship Sea Venture which wrecked on the Bermuda’s reefs on their way to America.

Bermuda is located in the subtropics of the North Atlantic at latitude 32° 19’ North, longitude 64° 46’ West. The islands lie 1,476 km (917 miles) Northeast of Nassau, Bahamas and 1,052 km (654 miles) East of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina which is the closest point of land.

Bermuda consists of around 193 coral limestone islands and islets extending along the edge of an extinct submarine volcano. The eight main islands are connected by bridges or causeways to form a chain about 35 km long. The total land area of Bermuda is 54 km2.

In 2010 the population of Bermuda was 64,237 (Dept. of Statistics, 2011). Tourism and international business are the main sectors of the economy. Out of all the UK overseas territories it has the most recorded non-native species and suffers from significant problems caused by invasive species (Varnham, 2006).

References:

Biodiversity

Bermuda has at least 8,299 recorded species, 4,597 of which are marine and 3,702 are terrestrial. Of these 110 marine species (2.4 %) and 137 terrestrial species (3.7%) are considered endemic (Sterrer 1998).

References:

  • Sterrer, W. 1998. How many species are there in Bermuda? 1998. Bulletin of Marine Science 62 (3): 809-840.

Policy / strategy background

The Department of Conservation Services and the Department of Parks have ongoing programmes for removing invasive plants and re-planting these areas with nursery-grown natives.

Non-governmental organisations such as the Bermuda Zoological Society, Bermuda National Trust, Bermuda Audubon Society and Save Open Spaces are active in developing and promoting methods of controlling invasive species and assisting native species.

Link to OTEP brochure [http://www.ukotcf.org/OTEP/docs/brochure_bermuda.pdf]

Bermuda Skink (endemic)

Problems with invasive non-native species

In Bermuda about 95% of our flora is introduced as well as much of our terrestrial fauna, with invasive species causing extensive ecological problems. For example, invasive Casuarina trees (Casuarina equisetifolia) over-shade native plants and increase soil erosion, while various species of introduced birds predate the endemic wildlife like the Bermuda Skink (Eumeces longirostris) and displace native birds from nesting sites. The pressures of habitat loss and extensive development have made these problems more acute, as very little natural habitat remains.

Bermuda is particularly vulnerable to the introduction of invasive species through our importation of food and other consumer products. These shipments can inadvertently introduce dangerous species into our environment. Additionally, people smuggling plants, animals, seeds or fruit back from their vacations could accidentally introduce an invasive species that will seriously damage Bermuda’s environment.

Casuarina stand (invasive)

Case Study - The Brazil Pepper Tree

The Brazil Pepper Tree (Schinus terebinthifolius), which is locally often referred to as Mexican Pepper, is arguably Bermuda’s worst invasive species. It was introduced as a garden plant prior to the 1950’s and has since successfully invaded all parts of the island and every terrestrial habitat. Brazil Pepper has been so successful that it has displaced many native plants and drastically altered the habitats it has invaded. 

Brazil Pepper Tree with ripe fruit


Thin strip of image show tree trunk and bark