Reefscapers coral frames Valentine hearts Maldives

Reefscapers coral frames – Valentine hearts

Coral Propagation – Monthly Progress

At Landaa during February, we transplanted 33 new coral frames and sited them in the lagoon around the resort.

At Kuda Huraa this month, we transplanted 3 new sponsored frames and recycled a further 6 frames. We focused our monitoring efforts on the Channel and Water Villas sites, working to reduce the effects of the shifting lagoon sands, which have caused some mortality on the lower coral colonies. We are also on the lookout for any corallivorous COTs (crown-of-thorns starfish).

On Valentine’s Day, we transplanted two special heart-shaped frames with Pocillopora, made by Kuda Huraa’s Dive Team.

At the Channel site, with have started a mass re-transplantation project, replacing any dead coral colonies with new Pocillopora fragments, replacing missing tags and remapping the GPS co-ordinates. Any unmapped frames without tags are being relabelled with ‘RK’ recycle tags.

Reefscapers healthy coral propagation colonies

Healthy coral colonies photographed on our frames this month

Artificial Intelligence and Coral Identification

Read the full project history of our autonomous catamaran and AI coral identification project over at Reefscapers AI-4Corals.

We started training a new AI software model to detect the shape of corals on monitoring photographs. The existing model is useful for small colonies, but they start to merge with each other as they grow, making the monitoring of individual colonies impossible. Therefore, we hope that this new model will be able to measure total surface cover.

Reefscapers AI training data coral cover

AI training data – detecting total coral cover for larger colonies

Reefscapers AI data analysis coral volumes

AI data analysis – total coral volumes

Reefscapers AI species ID

Identifying coral species using AI

Bleaching Alerts

As we approach the hottest part of the year, we will be closely monitoring the NOAA’s Bleaching Alerts. Every year, this resource is consulted to allow us to prepare for the annual rise in sea surface temperature.

The latest NOAA model predicts “Watch” status in the Maldives for weeks 5-8 (from the end of February), and “Watch/Warning” during weeks 9-12. This is a marked improvement from the predictions at the same time last year, which predicted “Alert Level 2” for May 2020 (although in reality, the highest rating thankfully only averaged “Warning”).

NOAA coral bleaching alerts Maldives (2020)

2020 NOAA coral bleaching alerts Maldives

NOAA coral bleaching alerts Maldives (2021)

2021 NOAA coral bleaching alerts Maldives

Coral Plates in Aquarium One (plates KH01, KH02, KH05) and Aquarium Two (plates KH03, KH04)

Overall, the coral plates in both aquaria remain healthy. We perform weekly cleaning of algae to prevent the corals from being smothered.

  • KH01 (Acropora digitifera, A.millepora, Galaxea fascicularis) – Growing steadily. The A. millepora fragments continue to fuse; the Galaxea fascicularis (added in November) are healthy and encrusting to the plate.
  • KH02 (Galaxea fascicularis) – This plate was transplanted onto a frame in the Water Villa area, as it had been thriving in the aquarium. It did not adjust to the new environment, however, and bleached almost entirely. It was subsequently returned to Aquarium 1, and is making a steady recovery. Weekly photos are being taken to monitor the recovery of the fragments; we are assessing the relocation options.
  • KH03 (Acropora valida) – The 8 older coral fragments continue to grow and encrust steadily. One fragment shows partial death with algal growth; the 16 newer fragments are gradually calcifying and encrusting.
  • KH04 (replenished December, digitifera, A. millepora) – Continuing to grow steadily and encrust on the plate. Fragments that were planted as both bases and tips are growing equally well.
  • KH05 (Galaxea fascicularis) – Healthy overall, with the uppermost fragments growing faster than the lower shaded fragments.
  • HK06 (Galaxea fascicularis, new Feb-21) – Encrusting and healthy. Weekly photos are taken to record the encrusting period of 3 particular fragments.

Woodstock Presentation

On 24 February, Simon and Gaetan held a Zoom meeting with students and alumni of Woodstock School (India).

This session was designed to showcase the work conducted at the Marine Discovery Centre and included a tour of our facilities, some short educational videos, and a question-and-answer session.

The recorded Zoom call can be viewed here on YouTube (and embedded below).

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