BASS spokesperson Dr Judith Landsberg. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
BASS spokesperson Dr Judith Landsberg. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, JUNE 8: Legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle described the Sargasso Sea as the “golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean” and now ten local non-governmental and environmental groups have teamed up to raise awareness about its importance.

Through scientific research, education and community outreach, the Bermuda Alliance for Sargasso Sea (BASS) aims to support efforts by the Sargasso Sea Alliance, led by the Bermuda government, to establish the Sargasso Sea as a high-seas marine protected area.

Through the campaign, it will highlight threats such as over-fishing and pollution, oil and bilge.

BASS members include Atlantic Conservation Partnership, Bermuda Institute for Ocean Science (BIOS), Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI), Bermuda National Trust, Bermuda Audubon Society, Greenrock, Bermuda Sloop Foundation, the National Museum of Bermuda, Look-Bermuda Education Foundation, and the Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS).

“As a group, we support the Sargasso Sea Alliance’s mission to make this international high seas area one of the first protected marine areas of its kind in the world, and we would like to see Bermuda residents get on board this campaign and voice their support,” says BASS spokesperson Dr Judith Landsberg.

“Our goal is to do all we can — through public education, scientific research and community awareness — to help make saving the Sargasso Sea a reality. We want to tell people as much as we can about this precious natural resource — and why they should care.”

The Sargasso Sea covers nearly five-million square kilometres of ocean and is one of the world’s most productive marine ecosystems. Bounded by the Gulf Stream and other currents that constantly shift its position, it feeds and protects the young, and forms a migratory corridor for many endangered and commercially harvested species.

“Its beauty, richness and value need protecting if we are to continue to benefit from this unique ecosystem,” says Dr Landsberg.

“Bermuda is the lone landmass in the Sargasso Sea and has a long record of marine conservation leadership. As island residents, we need to work together to help protect the Sargasso Sea for the health of our fisheries and marine environment. By doing so, Bermuda will be showing the world how we can protect and restore our marine resources.”

Currently, less than one-half of 1 per cent of the world’s ocean is fully protected, whereas more than 15 times more land has some form of protection.

The announcement of the formation came just ahead of World Ocean’s Day which is being marked today by a public event taking place that the HSBC Harbourview Centre from 5:30pm.

At the event there will be a talk by Chris Flook of the Bermuda Blue Halo Project, a government initiated plan that aims to first create a smaller marine reserve beyond the 50-mile mark of the island and out 200 miles.