[D]uring December we transplanted 22 new frames into the lagoon here at Kuda Huraa and monitored/photographed a total of 159 frames all around the island (at the House Reef, Water Villas, Green Lagoon, Spa and Channel). Some coral fragments on the House Reef frames were seen to have died off, so we re-transplanted these with new live fragments.
[T]he coral frames require regular maintenance from our skilled team of propagators – how much and how often varies from month to month and from location to location around the lagoon. Some newly transplanted coral fragments die early on in the process, possibly due to external damage during transplantation, or they fail to grow onto the frame and become mechanically dislodged. Other fragments occasionally die off due to their location in the lagoon, which might affect all species (excess water sedimentation) or be specific to a particular coral type (sub-optimal combinations of ocean current, lagoon depth, water temperature and so on).
We have gained much experience and knowledge during our years of reefscaping, but still have a lot to learn, and many environmental parameters are outside of our control. An example is the high surface water temperatures we observed during April to May 2013 (steady 31°C, peaking at 34°C) followed by the relatively cooler temperatures in November (28-29°C) that caused considerable stresses to the corals (coral bleaching was seen both on our frames and the natural reefs). We are also starting to recognise the impact of fish that graze on the corals – Parrotfish predation in particular seems to be increasing, although we are unsure of the cause of this. Our regular monitoring programme enables us to observe and photograph our coral frames over time, creating a unique record of observations for various coral species in all the habitats around the lagoon.
[T]he coral species Echinopora horrida is commonly used at Landaa for reefscaping, and we have recently spotted a few wild colonies here at Kuda Huraa. So this month we harvested coral fragments for two frames, and we will monitor growth of this species over the coming months. If everything goes well, we will be able to use these “nursery frames” to propagate fragments for our sponsored frames over the coming years.
[O]ur Christmas tree frame was first transplanted at the House Reef on Christmas Day 2011. Due to its location in the sand, the frame often suffers from high water sedimentation and from Parrotfish predation. As such, once a year on Christmas Day we go out with our guests and the dive team to re-transplant new coral fragments onto the frame. Twenty guests and staff joined us this year and the tree is now looking refreshed, with new fragments mixed in with well-grown ones to create an excellent hiding place for batfish and moray eels.