Kids on the Reef - Bermuda!


A blustery 4th of May saw us kicking off the 2015 edition of Kids on the Reef, our two day workshop project running in Bermuda in collaboration with the Bermuda Zoological Society and kindly sponsored by XLCatlin for three years running. Bermuda is an island situated in the North Atlantic Ocean and it really is in the middle of nowhere. The nearest place to Bermuda is Cape Hatteras, located over 1000 kilometres (640 miles) away.

Like many of the places where I AM WATER is active, the children of Bermuda live where people come from all over the world visit because of the beauty of the surrounding oceans, yet most of them have never seen below the surface of the water or explored Bermuda’s world-renowned outer reefs.

The Kids on the Reef programme is aimed at changing this, giving young Bermudians the opportunity to go out into the ocean on a boat and learn how to snorkel and freedive. Dr. Alex Amat from the Bermuda Zoological society and the I AM WATER team also teach the kids about stretching and breathing for freediving as well as ocean conservation, understanding corals as well as fish identification. In this way, we are able to introduce young Bermudians to the wonders and beauties of their ocean and inspire them to further explore beneath the surface, finding solutions for many of the ocean challenges we face.

The first group of 2015 consisted of 15 kids and two teachers, Miss Apopa and Miss Palmer from Whitney Institute. Initially there was a great deal of fear and apprehension about having to get into the water, away from the safety of land. “What if a shark eats me?” Tenasia said nervously before getting in the water. “I’m scared! It’s so deep! I can’t do this” Unique said wide-eyed and fearful while waiting her for her turn to leave the boat. But after encouragement from the I AM WATER Instructors and our amazing volunteers, all of the kids got into the water and very quickly gained the confidence they needed to snorkel and dive down. Unique was one of the last kids out of the water and back on the boat!

On the journey back, the kids were wildly excited and enthusiastic having overcome their fears and they all couldn’t wait to get into the water again for the second day of their ocean experience.

Day Two was even more exciting as we travelled to the pristine reef at North Rock, 10 miles out to sea. There were many shrieks of delight and amazement through snorkels as the kids entered the water and viewed the colourful corals and abundant reef life surrounding them. 

Each group was able to practice freediving down a line secured to a buoy, and all of them managed to surpass their own expectations. Most of the “I can’t do it!” soon turned into “Can I have another turn?!” after a few dives down. Once everyone had a turn freediving, the group all snorkelled and explored the reef and landed up spending over 2 hours in the water. “I saw so many different fish and the fan corals are so pretty”, Shania said “The fish are friendly and they come so close” was Andrew’s experience. The kids were also identifying the many fish that they had learnt about in their fish identification talk and we even overhead a very heated debate between two of the boys as to whether a parrot fish was a male or a female!


On the way back to shore, Omeek told us how much he had loved the two days and how he was going to do whatever he could to spend more time in the water practising snorkelling and freediving. We believe that after this experience these little Bermudians have had the opportunity to see for themselves how fortunate they are to have such an incredible underwater world as their salty playground. Through Kids on the Reef, each child receives their own mask and snorkel in the hope that they will continue to safely explore their blue backyard and learn to appreciate it even more.

By the end of May we would have completed 5 Kids on the Reef programmes and we will be running another 4 in June as well as Alumni Snorkel Days for our 2014 & 2013 snorkelers. Follow our progress as we continue our journey in Bermuda.

We would like to thank all of the volunteers for their hard work and support with the programme. Also a huge thank you to all the staff at the Bermuda Aquarium and to Lucy and Francesca, and the whole XLCatlin team, for making this possible!


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