April 2021 Edition
Membership ID:
Earth Day 2021
BAMZ & BZS remember a great man
Welcome to our new Aquarist, Kate Cooper
A Virtual take on the AXA XL Kids on the Reef programme
Annual flamingo check-up
Tree-planting Centenarian celebrates her 103rd birthday
BZS Lecture: Bermuda's Ants, Interesting Ant Facts
Visit our Facebook page throughout the day for book readings, crafts and Earth Day messages!
BAMZ & BZS remember a great man
The Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS) and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo (BAMZ) were saddened to hear of the passing of Eric Clee, a founding member and former president of the BZS.

When Eric retired in 2004 as president – a post he has held for five years – he vowed his loyalty towards the BZS saying “If I’m not on the golf course, I’ll happily volunteer wherever I’m needed.”

For twenty-six years, Eric Clee kept a caretaker’s vigil on the evolution of the BZS. “Purse Strings Clee,” as he was fondly known, was elected treasurer at the first annual general meeting in 1978, and because of his penny-wise measures, the BZS grew from a small group of volunteers into one of the most respected and successful not-for-profit organisations on the island.

However, what always touched people about Eric, was his sense of humility; his desire to learn more, and his deep interest and devotion to BZS & BAMZ, its staff, and volunteers; not to mention his desire to make a positive difference. 

Richard Winchell, a former curator at the BAMZ, recalled him as an “excellent” treasurer who was “fully committed to the mission of education and conservation”.

Mr. Winchell said: “During Eric’s tenure, dozens of new BZS sponsored exhibits were opened at the Aquarium; there were two successful capital campaigns raising more than $15 million, and the education and volunteer programs began using volunteers and eventually paid professionals.
“The Aquarium shop and restaurant also started during his tenure. I was fortunate to work with Eric for 20 years. He was a wonderful gentleman, totally committed to the Bermuda Zoological Society, and an outstanding volunteer – the best volunteer that BAMZ and BZS have ever had.”

Eric recalled fondly the years spent working alongside past BZS presidents, Herbie Williams, Eddie Cattell, and Charles Gosling noting that “there are so many, past and present, who have made the BZS what it is: staff, volunteers, members, and friends, indeed the entire community. To you all, I say ‘thank you' for the opportunity of leading such a magnificent organization.”

Today, we say thank you to Eric for helping build the BZS, for continuing to show such passion and dedication to the organization, and for being a genuinely good man! Our thoughts and sympathies are with his wife Judie at this difficult time and to let her know she will always be a part of the BZS & BAMZ family.
Welcome to our new Aquarist, Kate Cooper

Our new Aquarist, Kate Cooper, started at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ) in 2007 as a Junior Volunteer. She went on to work at BAMZ during the summers and on weekends as junior staff through high school and university, until 2015 when she moved to Scotland to work at Deep Sea World Aquarium for 5.5 years. Kate returned to work at BAMZ in January 2021 and she is super excited to be back!
Since her return, Kate has been target-training with the nurse sharks in the North Rock exhibit. “The end goal for the target training is to be able to get the sharks in a sling for weighing or moving if needed,” said Kate. “My midway goal is to be able to get them to stay at the surface to allow for health checks alongside the edge of the tank; at the moment we’re just working on a simple touch target, which will be built on to a holding target so they will spend more time at the surface.”
The two adult sharks had been target trained previously, so when Kate put the target in the water, they reacted to it correctly almost instantly. The younger nurse shark, who had begun her North Rock residency in the small side of the exhibit, and was not given previous training, was initially rewarded for just coming up to feed. By the end of that week, she touched the target, has been consistent with her targeting and is now rewarded for the behavior.
Kate now plans on working towards the next step for all of the nurse sharks, which will be holding them in place at the target. Welcome back to BAMZ Kate! We cannot wait to see what other training you can share with us!

Each Spring, for the past eight years, AXA XL has generously sponsored the Bermuda Zoological Society’s (BZS) Kids on the Reef (KOTR) programme for students from public middle schools.

Typically, the programme is run over two days at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo and includes both confined water and open water freediving instruction, as well as classroom teaching. However, with the island under lockdown last spring due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the KOTR organizers worked diligently to find a way to bring the programme to Bermuda’s public school students virtually.
BZS educators were able to pivot quickly after the lockdown and utilize video lessons, Zoom classes and pre-recorded instructional videos when conducting their online spring camp. Dr. Alex Amat, BZS educator and Beth Neale, KOTR programme coordinator, used these same tactics to bring part of the KOTR programme to 8 public school classes from Dellwood, Clearwater and Sandys, which included 120 students.
With Beth located in South Africa, and Dr. Alex in Bermuda, they utilized Zoom classes to teach the students breathing techniques, free-diving theory and stretches. They also taught lectures on ocean conservation to reinforce the students’ school curriculum. For those students or schools who were unable to participate in Zoom classes, Dr. Alex and Beth teamed up to produce instructional breathing class videos, as well as video lectures on ocean conservation to provide the educational component of the course.

Annual Flamingo Check-Up

On Wednesday, 24th March the BAMZ staff gathered together to round up the flamingos for their annual checkups. The process involved the staff corralling the flamingos in one area and then collecting them, one at a time. Care is always taken when handling flamingo, especially considering their long slender legs and powerful wings.

One by one the birds were taken to either Dr. Ian Walker, Principle Curator and BAMZ Vet, Roma Hayward, Animal Care and quarantine manager, or Gaelle Roth, volunteer veterinarian, for inspection.

During their inspection the BAMZ Registrar, Barbara Outerbridge, checked the ID tag of each bird and cross referenced that number with the health records. Each bird was thoroughly inspected, in the same way a family pet would be examined during an annual vet visit. Once the full check was complete, the staff member was sure to carefully release the animal back into the enclosure pond, to join the rest of the flock.
Tree-planting Centenarian celebrates her 103rd birthday

When centenarian Winnie Oatley turned 103 in February, her grandsons Kevin, Stephen, Robert and Geoff Blee marked the occasion by planting a cedar tree on Trunk Island in Harrington Sound, the Bermuda Zoological Society’s (BZS) “Living Classroom”. 
The tree-planting tradition started in 2018 when the family wanted to do something special to commemorate Winnie’s 100th birthday and she was adamant that she did not need any gifts!
Her grandson Robert, a volunteer with the BZS Weekend Warriors, was helping to clear invasive plants and develop Trunk Island into a living classroom. Together with BZS President, Colin Brown, they had the idea to ask family and friends to donate funds to buy 100 Bermuda cedar trees to help populate the Island with endemic plants. Winnie’s birthday tree campaign took off and well-wishers at home and abroad chipped in; before they knew it, BZS had secured 500 trees!
Colin Brown, BZS President said, “BZS is extremely grateful to Winnie’s family and friends. It was through their generosity on Winnie’s 100th that we were able to create a native nursery on Trunk Island to house the Island’s future generations of trees. I was delighted to welcome back the Blee brothers to celebrate their grandmother’s 103rd and see them teaming up with our Weekend Warriors to care for the Island and plant another cedar.”
Winnie Oatley was welcomed into the world in 1918 when Bermuda really was another world and a far cry from today’s frenetic pace of life. Nonetheless, 1918 was an eventful year witnessing the end of World War I, the establishment of the first US military base in Bermuda at Morgan’s Island in the Great Sound, and an unusually deadly influenza known as the Spanish flu which infected 500 million people - about a third of the world’s population at the time!
At 103, she has a slew of memories stretching back to a simpler time - there were no commercial cars on the road, no airport and no causeway when she was growing up - and Winnie has plenty of tales to tell.
Robert reminisces about his favourite Granny story, “She was taking the train home to St. George’s from her job at Miles grocery store in Hamilton. Without the Bermuda weather service no one knew that a hurricane would be bearing down on the island that day, and as the train headed up Crawl Hill falling trees blocked the track. I asked Granny how she got home, she said ‘We got home the only way we could - we walked!’ With the hurricane still blowing, she finally made it home several hours later; her mother, understandably, was beside herself!”.
Winnie’s long life has been busy, working full-time from an early age she did bookkeeping for businesses in St George’s and had a stint in Robertson’s Pharmacy before moving to Butterfield Bank where she stayed until retirement. Her late husband was a keen Bermuda fitted dinghy sailor and she spent many hours on the water watching the races. She attributes her longevity to a healthy diet and staying fit. She still walks every day, enjoys knitting and reading, and keeps her mind sharp by balancing her cheque book!
While still fiercely independent, Winnie recently downsized to an apartment in Flatt's where she overlooks the aquarium and enjoys distant views of Trunk Island and her birthday cedar trees.
The Shop at BAMZ is currently closed, but once we reopen we have so many items to entertain your little Scientist!