(July 2010) Following the mass coral bleaching event of 1998, during which 90% of Maldivian shallow water corals were killed, the Baa Atoll — home to Landaa Giraavaru — made one of the earliest recoveries in the whole country. Due to its greater proliferation of coral, it has unfortunately been one of the most significant victims of the recent El Nino event that is currently affecting large parts of the Maldives. This abnormal water temperature rise ‘stresses’ corals, causing them to repel their symbiotic algae, leaving a white ‘bleached’ appearance. If the waters remain unusually warm for prolonged periods, the corals eventually die.
But all is not lost. The onset of the southwest monsoon has lowered the surface sea temperature and brought some relief to the corals. We remain hopeful that much of the coral will recover.
Events like this highlight exactly why the work of the Reefscapers is so vital. The fragments that we transplant from corals that have survived this latest event will go on to produce ever-more resistant offspring, helping us to strengthen the existing reef and ensure that future bleaching events do not wipe our corals out altogether.