Coral Reefs support our Economy
All of Bermuda's beaches are of coralline origin. A beach forms when waves deposit sand along the shoreline. Coral sand originates from particles in tropical and sub-tropical marine environments; these are the result of bioerosion of limestone skeletal material of marine organisms, such as foraminifera, calcareous algae, molluscs, and crustaceans. The sand is an amalgam of these calcium rich shells.
Bermuda's tourism industry depends on the island's healthy reefs and beautiful beaches. These are so appreciated by tourists that 36% identify them as the main reason to visit Bermuda, and 14% claim they would not return to the island if corals were seen to be damaged while snorkeling.
Bermuda's Pink Sand
Foraminifera ('foram' for short) are chiefly responsible for the pink colour in Bermuda's sand. These are protozoans, and the red foram Homotrema rubrum (a very long name for a very small organism!) is numerous on the reefs and in the ocean sediments surrounding Bermuda.
H. rubrum have a persistent red pigment, which remains even in their"skeletons" when they die. The red gets mixed up with other debris-broken clam and snail shells and fragments of coral. When it is washed ashore, it forms Bermuda's signature pink sand.
The Importance of Parrot fish
Parrot fish play an important role in breaking down coral skeleton. These fish graze algae on coral, and in doing so, bite off pieces of coral. They digest the living tissue, and excrete the inorganic component (or the undigestable parts) as silt and sand. In turn, waves deposit the sand on the shoreline forming the beach...in other words,
Never underestimate Fish Poop!