Transplanting coral fragments onto a frame
Interview for PADI Women’s Dive Day (video below)
Hello, my name is Margaux, and I am the new Reefscapers Coral Biologist at Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru.
My first month with Reefscapers started with pandemic quarantine, before being thrown in to work at the deep end! 😊 However, after a year of lockdown-life in London and badly missing the ocean, it is safe to say I was undoubtedly back in my element, and couldn’t be happier!
As the smallest country in Asia, the Maldives consists of 1,190 tiny coral islands … but is 99% ocean overall!
Photographed on my short flight to Baa Atoll – the Maldives is a breathtaking sight from the air … and also whilst beneath the waves!
Refreshed and out of quarantine, I spent my first few weeks being brought up to speed with Reefscapers’ coral frame monitoring processes. Having worked on large-scale coral restoration projects in the past, I was extremely interested to see how the in-water frame placement, photo data collection and desk-based analysis using QGIS software worked. I was amazed to find out that we have 4500 frames situated around the Island of Landaa Giraavaru.
What fascinates me about this project is the effect these frames have had not only on coral reef diversity, but also in stabilising areas of substrate and sand that help to provide coastal protection. Furthermore, the use of AI technology to expand our knowledge on coral growth rates and survivorship is remarkable, and I can’t wait to learn more about this in the coming months.
Practising my free-diving in the lagoon …
Repairing and cleaning our Reefscapers coral frames is an important task to keep the coral healthy.
… a useful skill when photographing our coral frames.
We photograph our frames twice yearly, to monitor growth and to send updates to our valued sponsors.
My second month in paradise started with stormy weather, yet we persevered and managed to spend a lot of time in the ocean, monitoring and mapping our coral frames around the island. This helped me to familiarise myself with the locations and depths of frames, and to assess the most successful transplant areas. Education and outreach were also important this month, as we prepared for the start of the Four Seasons Apprentice Program.
During June, we were presented with an incredibly generous sponsorship of 37 coral frames. This was a huge logistical task, so we partnered with Resort staff to create these in a timely manner. It was an incredible display of determination and camaraderie that led to the successful transplanting of 3200 coral fragments onto recycled and sponsored frames. I absolutely loved this day, and I can’t thank everyone enough for all their help!
This month, I also had the pleasure of visiting the majestic manta rays in Hanifaru Bay, a day which obviously did not disappoint!!
July was devoted to maintaining, relocating, and recycling some old coral frames. Alongside our new apprentices, we created my first ever ‘raft’, to help make the process more manageable (see slideshow). In addition, to continue the increase in genetic diversity and to grow a plethora of coral genera, I started preliminary experiments using micro-fragmentation techniques. I am excited to see how this project progresses in the coming months.
I love life here at Landaa, and my days are made even better thanks to the incredible team of Reefscapers marine experts here at the Marine Discovery Centre. I look forward to many more hours underwater ! 😊
Margaux is a Marine Biologist, Divemaster, Underwater Explorer and Science Communicator from London. She has an MSc in Applied Aquatic Biology (2017) and BSc in Marine Biology (2016), both from the University of Portsmouth (UK). Her passion for coral reefs has taken her to Indonesia (Coral Reef Community Metric Surveys), Honduras (Stereo Video Surveys), Italy (Effects of MPAs on target fished species), Maldives (Mid-water floating coral nurseries) and Cambodia (community fisheries, artificial reefs, teaching conservation).
The heart-breaking mass mortality of these intricate underwater cities (now shifted to algal-dominant reefs of low diversity) means she is more dedicated to increasing coral reef resilience to climate change through collaboration, research, outreach and media.
Margaux also works part-time as an editor for Women in Ocean Science, a global community created to connect, celebrate and empower women in the Marine Sciences. She is excited to return to the Maldives as our Reefscapers Coral Biologist, working with the incredible team at Landaa!