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Something Concerning Is Happening To The Sea Near Bermuda

In just 40 years, the Atlantic Ocean around Bermuda has become almost unrecognizable.

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Tom Hale

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Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

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white and blue sky, beautiful sunrise, on a tropical island in Bermuda.

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean made up of nearly 200 islands. 

Image credit: Kino/Unsplash

Some concerning changes are impacting the waters around Bermuda. After 40 years of tracking, scientists have noticed that the Atlantic Ocean surrounding the archipelago is warming and losing oxygen, as well as becoming increasingly salty and acidic.

Researchers have been keeping track of the water around Bermuda since 1983, taking monthly samples to assess the physics, biology, and chemistry of the ocean's surface and depths.

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Known as the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS), the latest findings of the project show that the ocean water surrounding the islands in the 2020s is almost unrecognizable from the range seen in the 1980s.

"We show that the surface ocean in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean has warmed by around 1°C [33.8°F] over the past 40 years. Furthermore, the salinity of the ocean has increased, and it has lost oxygen. In addition, ocean acidity has increased from the 1980s to the 2020s," Professor Nicholas Bates, an ocean researcher at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and professor in the School of Ocean Futures at Arizona State University, said in a statement.

Just as you might expect, these shifting conditions are likely harming the biodiversity of the area. The past four decades have seen oxygen levels drop by 6 percent, which is not good news for aquatic organisms. Likewise, acidity levels have increased by 30 percent, which also affects animal health, such as the ability of organisms to sustain their shells.

A scientist on the BATS team collecting data on the research vessel Atlantic Explorer.
A scientist on the BATS team collecting data on the research vessel Atlantic Explorer.
Image credit: Jeff Newton


Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean, made up of nearly 200 islands and located around 1,770 kilometers (1,100 miles) from the coast of Miami. It’s perhaps best known for the Bermuda Triangle, a region of sea southwest of the islands which some claim has been responsible for a suspiciously high number of aircraft and boats disappearing under unexplained circumstances. 

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However, hard statistics and evidence-based investigations suggest that tales of the Bermuda Triangle are little more than an urban legend. Rest assured, these latest changes to the sea around Bermuda won’t be increasing the odds of mystery disappearances either.

It does, however, highlight how many of the world’s oceans are facing drastic change in the wake of the deepening climate crisis. Similar observation stations can also be found near Hawaii, the Canary Islands, Iceland, and New Zealand. The researchers explain that all of them are seeing similarly worrying changes in regard to warming, salinification, and ocean acidification.

“These observations give a sense of the rate of change in the recent past of ocean warming and ocean chemistry. They provide key indications of future changes in the next decades. They also are proof of regional and global environmental change and the existential challenges we face as individuals and societies in the near future,” explained Bates.

The new study is published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.


ARTICLE POSTED IN

natureNaturenatureenvironment
  • tag
  • climate change,

  • ocean acidification,

  • environment,

  • Bermuda,

  • warming oceans,

  • North Atlantic Ocean,

  • climate crisis

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