Underwater in Bermuda

bueiThe shape of Bermuda is similar to that of a prawn, or a shrimp as Americans call it. It is quite poetic to have the island group look like a marine creature as people flock to Bermuda to enjoy the water.

Although many people believe Bermuda to be part of the Caribbean, it is actually situated in the North Atlantic, east of North Carolina. Mention the North Atlantic to most people and they would conjure up images of dark, stormy, unfriendly seas, but the waters around Bermuda are reasonably benign and subtropical, and kept that way by the Gulf Stream.

It is situated in the world’s only true mid-ocean sea, the Sargasso Sea.

One of the best places to gain an understanding of the richness of the marine life around Bermuda is at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute which opened in 1997 with the mission “To advance the understanding, appreciation and knowledge of the ocean and to encourage the protection and preservation of the marine environment”.

The many exhibits at BUEI are designed to leave visitors with a new understanding and appreciation of the world’s oceans. Here it is possible to gain an appreciation of the ocean’s beauty and power, its diversity in plant and animal life plus its importance to the very survival of our planet.

Bermuda exists because it sits atop a long-extinct volcanic seamount which is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. BUEI has an excellent exhibit which gives great insight into both the seamount and the exploration of the seamount, particularly highlighting the first undersea exploration using a deep sea vessel called a bathyscape, which is on display.

There is also an extensive shell collection on display and a scientific look at what forces may have caused the loss of so many ships and aircraft in the region known as the Bermuda Triangle.

You can also do a virtual dive to the inky depths 12,000 feet via the Nautilus-X2, a state-of-the-art submersible.

One of the most exciting exhibits is the shark cage. At this exhibit you enter a shark cage to discover what it is like to be inside the flimsy cage when a giant shark attacks it. The exhibit is quite safe, but the sensation of seeing a shark charge at you and attack your cage is very real.

Of course, with a history of pirating during the early days of American settlement, there are some great exhibits featuring the area’s most famous pirates, the treasures they craved, and the shipwrecks in which they were in involved.

The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute is one place truly worth visiting.

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