Marine life Maldives Harlequin Filefish

Coral Propagation – Monthly Progress

At Kuda Huraa during October, we transplanted nine new coral frames, and monitored a further 397 frames at various sites around the island. In addition, we retagged 42 frames, retransplanted more than 50 degraded frames, and removed 10 old frames for recoating and recycling.

At Landaa this month, we transplanted 34 coral frames, kindly sponsored by guests (15), online (two), and the Resort (17), adding a total of 1440 coral fragments to the reef. We monitored (cleaned, repaired, photographed) a total of 404 established coral frames at various sites around the island.

We have also been lifting buried frames out of the sand and replacing any dead fragments on degraded frames. An estimated 20 frames were lifted, and 1075 fragments were recycled (mainly at the Jetty and Parrot Reef sites).

Blue Hole Remapping

One of our major goals is to remap and restore frames at the degraded Blue Hole site. Following remapping, we have been matching pictures of “unknown” frames by eye to their tag number using database photos.

Reefscapers corallivore COTS on A. muricata

Corallivore Crown of Thorns (COTs) feeding on Acropora muricata

Parrot Reef Relocation

As part of our long-term Parrot Reef revamp project, all coral frames have now been relocated to the sheltered side of the reef. We are continuing to recycle and remap frames in QGIS before monitoring and photographing, with two team dives this month (using 900 coral fragments).

Mitigation Against Coral Bleaching in the Maldives

Climate scientists are increasingly alarmed that the world’s oceans have been slowly and measurably warming throughout 2023, and this is predicted to continue well into 2024. Forecasts are predicting a global mass coral bleaching event in 2024, comparable in magnitude to the event of 2016 (when 80% of the world’s corals were killed by elevated ocean temperatures.)

References

As the hottest season in the Maldives runs from January through to April, with ocean temperatures usually peaking in April to May, we have started to implement various mitigation measures to attempt to lessen the expected stresses on our propagated coral colonies. These corals will grow in cooler waters, away from the warmer temperatures at the sea surface, and with reduced threat from substrate-bound predators.

  • The Shipwreck – our team has established a new deep coral refuge (at 16-20m) named ‘The Shipwreck’, where we’ve started preliminary trials to assess health and growth rates. As an added benefit, this site is also surrounded by a sandy seabed, isolated from rocky areas where Drupella and corallivorous starfish are encountered.
  • Cage and Coral Lines – we have reactivated our cage and coral lines work, with several rope structures located midwater (at 8m depths) in our deep house reef, along with a metal cage structure (13m deep) with hanging ropes of Acropora and Pocillipora. Over the next few months, we will transplant more fragments and colonies onto these structures to increase species diversity.
Stephanie marine biology internship Maldives - coral bundling

Coral gamete ‘bundling’ on the point of spawning (Kuda Huraa)

Reefscapers coral spawning Maldives

Gametes released: Coral spawning (October 2023)