25 new frames were transplanted and deployed in the waters around the island of Kuda Huraa, mainly at the Spa, Water Villas and House Reef (along the reef crest to the north of the mooring buoys). 29 new coral frames were transplanted around Landaa Giraavaru during July, and we now have a total of 2,241 frames here, covering an area of 4,000 square metres.
Marine Aquarium at Kuda Huraa
Our aquarium has been stable for a few weeks now, and we have been adding more soft corals to improve the aesthetics and to create a better environment for the fish. We plan to introduce several new fish species over the next month or so to maintain a stable habitat.
A variety of megafauna were sighted on our excursions this month, including a large pod of 60 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) on the 1st of July, and approximately 200 spinner dolphins (Stenellan longirostris) on the 10th. A total of 42 black tip reef sharks (Charcharhinus melanopterus) were recorded, with individuals being sighted on each one of our snorkel excursions, much to the delight of our guests. Other mega fauna sightings included:
• Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata)
• Green turtles (Chelonia mydas)
• Mangrove whiprays (Himantura granulate)
• Spotted eagle rays (Aetobatus narinari)
• Mobula rays (Myliobatidae)
• White tip and Black tip reef sharks
• Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulas)
• Manta rays (Manta alfredi) – mantas rays are known to aggregate at “cleaning stations” – underwater sites that are home to fish such as cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus), which remove and eat parasites that can harm and irritate their hosts.
Echinoderm Research Project
Our new volunteer researcher, Frédéric Ducarme, started working with us at the end of July on a two month placement. Frédéric is a PhD student and lecturer at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, specialising in ecology and tropical marine biology. Echinoderms are a phylum classification of 7,000 species of marine animals that includes starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. Whilst most commonly found on reefs, the various species are distributed across the sea floor at every depth throughout the oceans of the world.
Frédéric has started a survey of Echinoderms in Baa Atoll, with the following aims:
• Survey the total abundance and diversity of sea cucumbers
• Gather data about sea cucumber fishery
• Collect samples for genetic studies (of Holothuria, Actinopyga echinites, Tripneustes ventricosus, Toxopneustes pileolus, Asthenosoma marisrubri, and any unusual sea urchins).
Running alongside this project is a Wikipedia page, detailing the marine life to be found in Baa Atoll – in both English and French language versions. The French page is the most complete, and we are currently updating the English version. There are more than 300 photographs at the moment, of different local species, and we are uploading new ones all the time.