Coral Reefs Protect our Coast
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The above images were taken during Hurricane Fabian a Category 3/4, hitting Bermuda. Coral reefs are natural breakwaters, acting as buffers against waves from storms and hurricanes and helping to protect the shoreline from erosion and property damage. Bermuda is almost entirely made up of aeolonite rocks, essentially wind-blown sand dunes cemented into limestone rock; because of the relatively low degree of hardening and cementation of these rocks, the island is susceptible to erosion from wave action. It is estimated that reefs in Bermuda dissipate 75-85% of wave energy. Wave height, and thus the wave energy hitting the coastline during storms and hurricanes, is likely to increase as corals become impacted. This makes the role played by the rim and boiler reefs even more vital to the protection of Bermuda's shoreline. In order to sustain optimal coastal protection, the maintenance of the health and structure of coral reefs in Bermuda becomes primordial.
Extent of Property Damages caused by Storms and Hurricanes
27% of properties across Bermuda were flooded in 2003 during Hurricane Fabian (Category 3).
1.5 million USD per claim was the average insured sum (flooding only; excluding wind-related damage)
262,000 USD was the average amount paid out by the insurance companies
Based on data from these claims, damage to property was as high as a fifth of the property value
Potential Impact on Property with Coral Health Decline
When corals become damaged or die, this not only affects the coral species themselves, but will, in extreme die-off events, lead to the erosion of the platform.
Erosion of the platform will affect the degree of wave dissipation, estimated to decrease by 20% resulting in higher waves hitting the shores during a storm or hurricane.
This will lead to increased flood damage; such that the island will be more vulnerable to a Category 1 hurricane than it currently is.