BREEF News

Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition

Join the BREEF Young Reporters for the Environment programme by participating in the 2021 Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition! #givenatureavoice

For Registration and Entry submission details please visit https://forms.gle/fr1rV4qFVCh5vMPE9

Entries are due by March 26,2021. The winner will be announced during the BREEF Youth Environmental Leadership Summit ( March 30-31).

Click here to view acceptance criteria

The Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) programme aims to empower students aged 11-25 to take a stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and give them a platform to call attention to these issues through the media of writing, photography or video. There are more than 350,000 young reporters in 45 countries across the world. Through the Foundation of Environment Education, BREEF runs the YRE programme in The Bahamas.

BREEF is the National Operator for the Young Reporters for the Environment Programme in which is being supported by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme.

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Drilling will stop on controversial oil well 150 miles from South Florida after company finds the well too dry

Chris Perkins, South Florida Sun Sentinel

A company will stop drilling a controversial oil well it started in December about 150 miles from the South Florida coast, after saying it did not find a valuable oil source.

Bahamas Petroleum Company began drilling the exploratory well off the west coast of Andros Island on Dec. 20, despite wide criticism from Bahamian conservation groups as well as a group of U.S. Representatives led by Alcee Hastings.

After six weeks of drilling, the company said it found oil, but a not a commercial quantity of it. BPC plans to plug and abandon the well in the next few days and move its drillship, Stena IceMax, away from the site.

The Port of Palm Beach was used as a hub for a supply ship assisting the Stena IceMax during its drilling.

The project drew concern in Florida over the possibility that a spill could cause major problems fortourism, fishing, diving, coral reefs, wildlife and the environment, particularly in South Florida and the Florida Keys.

The drilling shutdown is good news for the projects opposition.

“Offshore drilling in the Bahamas is dangerous for both the country’s tourism-driven economy and its pristine waters,” said Diane Hoskins, offshore drilling campaign director for Oceana, an international organization that advocates for ocean conservation.

“We hope the Bahamian government takes this as a sign to stop this senseless journey. The United States and the Bahamas have a shared interested in preventing the associated devastation to our climate, coastal communities and economy.”

Despite the victory for conservationists, the battle isn’t over. BPC said it hasn’t yet decided whether or not to drill in the area again in the future, saying its focus now is to shut down the well it was working on.

“This is a huge breath of fresh air for the future sustainability of our country,” said Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, executive director of the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation. “But the threat is not over because BPC is still hoping to drill additional wells in Bahamian waters. We absolutely need permanent protection from any oil exploration or extraction in the future.”

McKinney-Lambert said the drilling caused “considerable damage to the seafloor and was a clear threat to our waters and our economy and that of our neighbors.”

BPC said it hasn’t yet conducted a final report but doesn’t believe there was any significant amount of harmful material leaked into the water. Still, some want the Bahamian government to take strong action so no more exploratory oil well are drilled off its coasts.

“We now need a full moratorium on oil exploration in Bahamian waters,” McKinney-Lambert said. “This will send the message to the world that we take protection of our environment seriously, that we care about the current and future well-being of our people, and that we are serious about building a climate-resilient future.”

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We Must Save Our Coral Reefs

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Originally from South Africa, I have lived in Nassau, New Providence for five years. I am passionate about the ocean and consider myself to be a mermaid. Shortly after I arrived in Nassau, I started volunteering for BREEF, participating in their beach clean-ups, snorkel events and coral restoration programme.

I realised the best way I could give back to the community was by educating students and tourists about the importance of our precious coral reefs. After all, coral reefs are our first line of defense against strong waves and hurricanes. Not to mention, coral reefs also provide a sustainable fisheries and tourism industry.

Sadly, each time I go for a dive, I witness firsthand the serious decline of our coral reefs. It has become blatantly obvious there is so much work to be done. Reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human-induced threats like climate change, coastal development and pollution, and future generations may lose the chance to enjoy the beauty of our ocean as we do today.

Corals are especially vulnerable to diseases and death with the continual rise in water temperature. The fate of our reefs depends on us reducing our carbon footprint and moving towards sustainable development.

Everyone can play a role in protecting our coral reefs. It all starts with making environmentally conscious daily decisions, even little efforts like reducing our plastic use, conserving energy in our homes, and choosing sustainable seafood for consumption. We must all do more to protect the coral reefs that protect us.

MELLISA ALTENBURGER

Nassau,

February 5, 2021.


In addition to a BREEF Volunteer, Mellissa (pictured on right) is a 4oceans Ambassador for The Bahamas, a globally recognized organization against plastic pollution.
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EXPLORERS CLUB – 50 Explorers Changing the World!

BREEF is proud to announce our Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert was recognised as one of The Explorers Club: 50 people who are changing the world!

“The ocean around us is essential for the social, economic and environmental well-being of The Bahamas. It is one of our greatest treasures and it is up to all of us to protect it. At BREEF we encourage everyone to explore this incredible world and to speak out bravely on its behalf as if our future depends on it… because it does!” BREEF executive director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert

Every honoree featured, as well as the hundreds of other nominees, are exploring, inspiring, and creating the future – the future of the planet, the future of food security, of paleontology, of biology, what our communities should look like, and so much more. The EC50 was established to not only reflect the great diversity of exploration, but to give a voice to these trailblazing explorers, scientists, and activists doing incredible work.

Additionally featured in Forbes magazineThe Iconic Explorers Club Honors 50 Members Including 21 Remarkable Women

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BREEF’s Adopt-a-Coral programme, Ranked Best Gift Over the Holiday Season

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) extends heartfelt thanks to all its local and international supporters who adopted coral for themselves or loved ones during BREEF’s Adopt a Coral “Holiday Special” promotion. The abundance of coral adoptions combined with a generous matching donation made double the impact. 

The Bahamas is home to 35% of all coral reefs in the wider Caribbean.  Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet—even more than a tropical rainforest. Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life. Coral reefs also provide protection from storms and generate income for tourism and fisheries.  

Coral reefs are under serious threat from human impacts such as climate change, pollution, the introduction of invasive species, coastal development, illegal fishing practices and overfishing. Globally, 80% of live corals have died in the last 50 years. BREEF works to protect coral reefs through coral restoration, education and encouraging good policy decisions for sustainable development. Coral reefs are especially vulnerable to warming waters due to human-induced climate change, and BREEF staff closely monitor corals for signs of coral stress and bleaching. Climate change is the result of burning fossil fuels and warming the atmosphere and the ocean.

Human actions have already caused 1C of this global warming which has resulted in impacts such as the climate-fueled Hurricane Dorian. If global warming exceeds 1.5C, small island states, particularly low-lying archipelagic nations like The Bahamas, will be even more at risk.

BREEF created the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden & Coral Nursery in 2014 in the beautiful Bahamian waters off Clifton. It Is an exceptional snorkeling and diving experience and is home to “Ocean Atlas” – the world’s largest underwater sculpture, and the location of one of BREEF’s coral nurseries.  The sculpture garden is a perfect fusion of living art, conservation, and education, teaching thousands of children every year about the Bahamian waters.  BREEF has an additional coral nursery located on the third-largest barrier reef in the world, the Andros Barrier Reef. To date, hundreds of corals have been out-planted back onto the surrounding reefs to help restore and rebuild this critical ecosystem.

The “holiday special” promotion was so successful, BREEF will be offering the opportunity again in February for Valentine’s Day, and encourages everyone to join BREEF in restoring our coral reefs by adopting a coral. 

BREEF is a member of the Reef Rescue Network. For more information on our coral restoration activities and the coral adoption programme at the world-famous BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and the Andros Barrier Reef visit the adopt a coral webpage.



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Nassau Grouper

The Nassau grouper is one of the most important species in the region and it is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Nassau groupers reproduce in only a few special places around the full moons of the winter months each year. Individual fish may travel over a hundred miles to form part of very large groups called fish spawning aggregations for just a few days before returning to their home reefs. 
 
The Nassau grouper season is closed between 1st December and 28th February every year. No person shall “take, land, process, sell or offer for sale” any Nassau grouper during the closed season.
 
You can help support this special fish and the people who depend on it by letting the Nassau grouper spawn in peace and by choosing another dish during the closed season. 
 
Please watch and share video. Special thanks to Trevor Bacon, Andy Mann, SeaLegacy and Moore Bahamas Foundation for production, and to Julian Reid for narrating this important message.
 
For more information about Nassau Grouper, please click here. 

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Giving Thanks to Coral Reefs

Why Give Thanks to Coral Reefs? 

As another hurricane season has come and gone, we’d like to acknowledge and appreciate the coral reefs that are the first line of defence protecting our islands from storms. Coral reefs can break wave energy by 97%. Bahamian reefs also help generate income and sustain livelihoods through tourism and fisheries. Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet;—even more than a tropical rainforest. Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine species.  

Coral Reefs Make Life in The Bahamas Possible

By protecting our island from storms, allowing our country to be a top tourism destination and keeping our fisheries afloat, coral reefs are essential to our survival.  

Join Us- Adopt a Coral!

Corals are resilient but they need our help. BREEF takes action by combating threats such as climate change and pollution, helping establish marine protected areas, teaching thousands of children every year about our waters, and growing living coral to restore Bahamian reefs. BREEF has created the BREEF Sir Nicholas Coral Reef Sculpture Garden – an exceptional snorkeling and diving experience in the beautiful Bahamian waters off Clifton. It is home to “Ocean Atlas” – the world’s largest underwater sculpture, and the location of one of BREEF’s coral nurseries

The sculpture garden is a perfect fusion of living art, conservation and education, and BREEF takes thousands of young people snorkeling to experience this underwater classroom first hand. 

Join us in restoring our coral reefs this holiday season by adopting a coral. For more information on our Coral Restoration activities at the world-famous BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and the Andros Barrier Reef, visit breef.org.


While most people are thankful 2020 is almost over due to the ongoing pandemic. There is a more urgent threat to our lives and livelihoods… climate change. 

By 2030 (without urgent intervention) globally most of our coral reefs will be dead. Plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean and every year we will endure stronger and more intense storms and hurricanes. 

It’s not surprising that this year’s hurricane season named storms made it through the Greek alphabet. The memory of the record-breaking storm – Category 5 Hurricane Dorian remains as vivid as yesterday for those who experienced the devastation and the loss of loved ones.

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BREEF WINS GLOBAL FILM AWARD FOR TRANSFORMING SOCIETY

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) captured top honours at the 9th annual tve Global Sustainability Film Awards in London. The GSFA recognizes outstanding films from the business, non-profit, media and creative sectors that inspire audiences with real-world solutions for a more sustainable future. The 2020 awards were held online from November 16-20, with BREEF winning first place in the Transforming Society category.
 
BREEF and the Rolex Perpetual Planet initiative collaborated to produce this award-winning short film about educating the next generation of Bahamian environmental stewards. The film highlights BREEF and its Eco-Schools programme, drawing attention to the actions young people are taking within their schools and communities to combat climate change and to sustain the Bahamian way of life. Students from Deep Creek Middle School, Harbour Island Green School, Eva Hilton Primary School and CI Gibson Senior High School are in the film, inspiring others around the world by using the ocean as a living classroom, and driving action to protect it. Children in the film learn about marine protected areas and explore BREEF’s coral nursery and Coral Reef Sculpture Garden.
 
The film prominently shares the beauty of The Bahamas with a global audience. It includes stunning footage of the island of Eleuthera where BREEF’s Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert was born – from Lighthouse Point in the south to Harbour Island in the north. Rolex’s Perpetual Planet initiative celebrates partnerships that encourage and inspire the next generation of underwater explorers and conservationists.
 
The film was directed by award-winning filmmaker Fran Mendez, and includes underwater footage by world-renowned Bahamian photographer Andre Musgrove. 
 
Upon receiving the news that the “BREEF and Rolex Preserve and Protect Nature” film won first place, an elated Casuarina McKinney-Lambert said, “We are thrilled and are so proud of what the young people of The Bahamas are doing to protect the oceans around us and make the world a better place. We owe it to the next generation to support them.”
 
BREEF has been running Eco-Schools in The Bahamas since 2009. Eco-Schools Bahamas is part of the international award programme developed in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). The Eco-Schools Bahamas programme promotes environmental stewardship by creating an awareness of local and global environmental challenges. Through a simple, seven-step process Eco-Schools empowers children to take action for the environment, by engaging them in fun, action-oriented learning and community outreach activities. The global Eco-Schools network includes over 19.5 million children in 68 countries.
 
Currently, BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas network is spread over six islands and consists of 17 government and 17 private schools. While schools are operating remotely during the pandemic, BREEF educators are teaching virtual field trips and presentations to support ongoing conservation education. 
 
Information on the award and the film can be found here at https://www.gsfa.org.uk/transforming-society and www.breef.org. For more information on the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative visit www.rolex.org
 
The Bahamas belongs to our children, and BREEF’s Eco-Schools programme gives them the tools and the global reach to protect it. Schools interested in joining the Eco-Schools Bahamas programme can contact BREEF at 327-9000 or email: ecoschoolsbahamas@breef.org.
 

 

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OFFICIAL STATEMENT

Shark & Turtle Protection

November 9, 2020

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is deeply committed to protecting our waters and the marine creatures that sustain lives and livelihoods in The Bahamas.

The Bahamas fully protected sea turtles in 2009 and made the country a shark sanctuary in 2011 in response to increasing threats to shark and turtle populations in The Bahamas and around the world. Sharks and turtles are vulnerable to overexploitation because they are slow to mature and reproduce, they have been the targets of high levels of fishing pressure in many of their ranges, and because they have experienced impacts to the habitats that they need to survive.

Sharks and turtles play critical roles in maintaining healthy coral reefs and seagrass beds and in keeping the populations of other species in balance and healthy. Their presence is important for the well-being of our commercial and recreational fisheries. They are also important components of our Bahamian tourism product. The fact that our country is the premier destination in the region to dive and snorkel with large marine life means that The Bahamas is consistently ranked as one of the top dive tourism destinations in the world. Sharks alone bring in at least $114 million/ year in tourism revenue.

We hear the concerns voiced by some fishermen about a perceived increase in numbers of sharks and turtles, and respect we need to come up with solutions that take the well-being of both wildlife and humans into consideration. Available science does not indicate that populations are higher than historical levels and it would be rash to rush into making changes to existing levels of protection without very careful consideration.

There is a need to make good science-based decisions regarding managing the marine environment. Much more research is needed. This must involve a wide variety of people connected with the marine environment in research design and implementation, and in decision-making, including scientists and fishers, incorporating traditional knowledge and experiences into carrying out rigorous scientific studies, and sharing the findings widely. 

There is currently no research that would recommend relaxing the existing protections that are in place for sharks and turtles in Bahamian waters.

BREEF does not support opening our shark and turtle populations to fishing. 

______________________________________________________________________________

Photos Courtesy of Shane Gross Photography

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Sebastian was right; life under the sea is way better

By Nerandza Nikolic  

Soon after I moved to The Bahamas in the early August of 2019 to start teaching at the Lyford Cay International School, I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by Mrs. Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director of BREEF, where, among other things, I learned about coral nurseries. Wait, what? Underwater gardening is possible? Where do I sign up?! Needless to say, I was mesmerized and made a decision that once an opportunity presented itself, I was going to join this noble cause.

Although my plans got postponed by Covid-19, I was not going to give up. So, in the meantime, I took part in the BREEF Paint & Sip fundraiser and became the proud adoptive mother of a coral; her name is Renata, which in Spanish means “reborn”, thus symbolically representing the rebirth of our coral reefs and safeguarding the oceans.  

Photo 1- Endangered species, Staghorn coral out-planted onto the nearby reef.
Photo 2- Nena out-planting her adopted coral “Renata”.

So, finally, in October 2020 I got a chance to become a PADI Certified Diver with the help of one of the star BREEF instructors and one of the most passionate environmentalists, Allison Ballester-Longley. Now, bear in mind that the writer of these lines has fought the fear of swimming for years and thanks to the patience and expertise of my instructor, I not only managed to stay underwater, diving for lengthy periods of time, but I also out-planted two corals at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and socialized with various schools of fish which insisted on photobombing and interrupting our communication expecting to be fed. Rude!

Photo 3- Nena, photobombed by a blue tang at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and Coral Nursery.

Where from here? How does pursuing my Reef Rescue Diver certification and swimming with the sharks at Stuart Cove sound to you? Exactly!

Photo 4- PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Allison Ballester-Longley and Open Water student Nena, heading out for a dive.

BREEF created the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden to draw attention to the threats facing our coral reefs, and to drive action to protect them. BREEF has created coral nurseries at the Coral Reef Sculpture Gardens and on the Andros Great Barrier Reef. At these coral nurseries, we are growing the endangered species, Staghorn coral.

BREEF is proud to be a part of the Reef Rescue Network in The Bahamas. Join us! Help rebuild our reefs by adopting a coral or become certified as a PADI Reef Rescue Diver!

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