The Bermuda Environmental Alliance (BEA) revealed the behind-the-scenes story of the remarkable efforts taken to secure stunning Bermuda underwater cave footage for a four-part mini-series on the island currently being aired by Discovery Channel Canada. The five-and-a-half-minute mini-documentaries highlight the Bermuda’s caves, cahows (the national bird of Bermuda), roof rainwater systems, and research into ocean algae biofuels.
Scott Neil (The Royal Gazette) reports that “at the private screening in Hamilton, divers Gil Nolan, Leon Kemp, and Bruce Williams were applauded for their part in the mini-series. Day-after-day the trio rehearsed in the dark waters of the 2,000m long, barely-explored caves around Castle Harbour.” They dove with air tanks strapped under their arms rather than on their backs “in order to squeeze through tiny spaces to capture never-before seen pictures of the island’s mysterious submerged caverns and labyrinths.” All this had to be done without stirring up sediment on the cave floor so that the high definition film equipment could capture images of “an underwater world filled with mesmerizing geological features and rarely seen critters and plant life.” These intriguing discoveries were explained on film by cave scientist Dr. Tom Illiffe, who said that the magnificent formations of stalagmites and stalactites provided evidence that Bermuda was once 400 meters above sea level. The divers’ participation was part of a collaborative effort directed by the Bermuda Environmental Alliance, which brought together an extensive group of scientists, conservationists, wildlife experts, and film technicians to create the mini-series for Discovery Channel Canada.
Other segments featured conservation officer Jeremy Madeiros and Dr. David Wingate speaking on the survival of cahows (also known as Bermuda petrels) on Nonsuch Island; the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences’ Dr. Michael Lomas on research being done into the potential of creating a greener biofuel energy source from sea algae; and Bermuda’s centuries-old success in catching rainwater through traditional roof designs and underwater storage tanks.
The BEA’s founding executive director is former Bermuda television reporter Sangita Iyer, with backing from leading business executives on the island. Iyer says that she had often wondered why the valuable work being done by Bermuda’s conservationists was not featured overseas. She hopes that the BEA will continue to give exposure to the island’s conservation endeavors and perhaps influence “the way people think about animals and the environment” in Bermuda and abroad.
For more information on the Bermuda Environmental Alliance, see www.bermuda-bea.org
Photo of underwater cave from http://www.tamug.edu/cavebiology/BeCKIS/hotspot.html