Coral Propagation – Monthly Progress

At Landaa during March, we transplanted 32 new coral frames, kindly sponsored by guests (17), the Resort (13), and online orders (two), which in total added ~1200 coral fragments onto the reef. In addition, we monitored (cleaned, repaired, photographed) a total of 646 coral frames at various sites around the island.

This month, we have also been recycling and lifting coral frames around Landaa, including 12 coral frames buried in the sand at the Turtle and Blue Hole sites, and recycling 290 coral fragments at the Turtle and Bissie’s Reef.

At Kuda Huraa this month, we monitored a total of 235 existing frames (mainly at the House Reef site), and transplanted 6 new frames around the island, kindly sponsored by guests (4), and the Resort (2). We also retagged 23 frames, remapped 73 heart-formations (Deep House Reef site), and retransplanted 27 frames (House Reef and Channel sites).

Reefscapers monthly coral monitoring & maintenance Maldives
Reefscapers monthly coral monitoring & maintenance Maldives

Coral Bleaching Monitoring

From late March to late May, the Maldives experiences higher than average ocean temperatures. This is associated with the transition of the monsoons from the North-Easterly to the South-Westerly, resulting in calm periods with little wind and rain. These conditions can be extremely stressful for the corals, and can result in paling initially, followed by possible bleaching and eventual mortality.

Temperature loggers have been deployed at various locations to record hourly SST (sea surface temperature). We will also log additional environmental data, including: UV levels, air temperatures, precipitation, wind speed/direction.

We plan to monitor the severity of any coral bleaching, to determine which species demonstrate the greatest resilience and which locations offer the best protection. Our bi-weekly surveys will attempt to identify the external stressors by assessing the paling and bleaching of selected coral colonies:

  • 300 coral colonies, on 135 coral frames, representing nine different species, at five sites around Kuda Huraa
Reefscapers coral frame photography
Reefscapers coral bleaching Maldives examples

“Project Crack”

On the Eastern side of Kuda Huraa, a single coral species (Montipora digitata) has been growing rapidly. This would normally be great news! But unfortunately, these dense patches of corals are severely restricting water flow in the adjacent areas, especially at low tide, creating a dead zone of low ocean current and higher water temperatures.

From an aerial study, we have seen the water flow pooling between the two main coral blocks (rb1 and rb2), isolating the North side of the island. To alleviate this, we plan to remove a section of these corals on the northern block of reef, creating a ‘crack’ in reef block rb1, to allow the current to flow more freely again. Map legend >

  • Yellow: coral blocks (rb1 and rb2), restricting water flow
  • Red: ‘dead zone’
  • Blue: coral frames affected by low current
Reefscapers project CRACK