Wild Montipora corals thriving in the shallow warm waters at Kuda Huraa’s water villas site
Coral Propagation – Monthly Progress
At Landaa this month, we transplanted 38 new coral frames, kindly sponsored by guests (23), the Resort (12), and online orders (three), which in total added ~2100 coral fragments onto the reef. In addition, we monitored (cleaned, repaired, photographed) a total of 600 coral frames around the island. We have also lifted a total of 78 buried frames out of the sand at various sites, and repopulated with new fragments where necessary.
To celebrate Earth Day (22 April) the Resort sponsored a commemorative coral frame, which was built by guests and staff. A big thank you to everyone who came to participate and support the event. 🙏
At Kuda Huraa this month, we monitored and mapped a total of 182 existing frames, and transplanted seven new frames around the island, kindly sponsored by guests (two), the Resort (two), and online orders (three). In addition, we relocated 108 frames at the Water Villas site to provide the coral with shading and reduce stresses over the warmest period of the year.
NOAA Bleaching Warnings
According to NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch Bleaching Forecast for the Maldives area, Malé Atoll was in a “No Stress” state at the start of the month. By 4 April we were at “Watch” status, elevating to “Warning” levels by 21 April.
Coral Bleaching Monitoring
Here in the Maldives, we are currently in the high ocean temperature season (March to May), so our team is actively monitoring for signs of coral stress, paling and coral bleaching. Our bi-weekly surveys of five sites around Kuda Huraa are monitoring 300 coral colonies (135 coral frames, nine coral species).
This month, we conducted 20 hours of bleaching monitoring (two dives and nine snorkels), and our results so far show 17% colonies are paling and 1% are bleached, with the shallow Water Villas site currently most impacted by the warmer ocean temperatures. We also observed the impacts of fish predation on colonies in the Shallow House Reef area – see photos (below) that represent the kind of damage that fish can cause on our healthy coral colonies (the stressed corals then go on to pale and bleach).
Addu Coral Festival
Members of our team attended the 2023 ‘Coral Festival’ on S. Hithadhoo from 27-30 April (organised by the Maldives Coral Institute). Our Reefscapers stall was visited by global government representatives, NGOs, charities, international conservationists, and many interested members of the public from nearby local islands. It was an ideal platform to showcase the full range of our work to fellow marine biologists and passionate conservationists.
On the second evening, our 2023 coral spawning documentary was screened, alongside videos from the Manta Trust and the recent Nekton deep sea expedition. Throughout, our team attended various lectures, including:
- keynote presentations by prominent coral scientists Prof Callum Roberts and Prof Madeline Van Oppen
- workshops on artificial intelligence in ocean science
- panel discussions on coral restoration and conservation