Marine Science Workshop at Hurawalhi: The First of its Kind in Lhaviyani Atoll

Hurawalhi Maldives is proud to announce that the resort’s Marine Biology Center, a Manta Trust research facility, is set to host a Marine Science Workshop, the first of its kind in Lhaviyani Atoll.

The workshop, which will take place on Saturday, 14th July 2018, invites marine biologists, dive instructors, snorkel guides and tour operators in the region (Lhaviyani Atoll) to come and meet their fellow ocean advocates and to equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to provide their guests with the most up-to-date information; what’s more, the workshop will look to further instill sustainable tourism values and practices in the atoll’s community, and facilitate better research collection and collaboration in the atoll.

The workshop will be led by Manta Trust’s Project Manager and Hurawalhi’s Resident Marine Biologist, Kirsty Ballard, who will educate attendees about Manta Trust’s Maldivian Manta Ray Project‘s most recent finding. Kirsty will be joined by representatives from Atoll Marine Centre and Olive Ridley Project who will discuss their current turtle and clownfish research projects.

Event update and photo gallery

Marine Science Workshop Hurawalhi Maldives

The Workshop was a huge success! Participants from Hurawalhi, Kuredu, Komandoo, Kanuhura, Cocoon and Atoll Marine Centre had a fact-filled day. Hungry for knowledge, they were all ears during introductions from Kirsty Ballard who organised the event and Mohamed Solah, Director of Operations at Hurawalhi, and subsequent presentations: Kirsty further expanded on the Manta Trust research and findings, Dr. Stephanie Köhnk (Olive Ridley Project team member and Turtle Biologist and Educator at Kuredu) provided insights into sea turtle research, Atoll Marine Centre team shared knowledge on turtles, clownfish breeding programme and coral propagation, and CorAlive spoke about coral accretion methods.

Hurawalhi was pleased to have had the pleasure to host the Marine Science Workshop. We are certain that the resort’s Marine Biology Center will play an important role in educating marine users and providing tools to ensure tourism activities are conducted in a sustainable manner also in the future.

This was the first marine science workshop of its kind in Lhaviyani Atoll and both Hurawalhi and Manta Trust are confident in saying that it provided an excellent starting point for an even more increased and integrated research collaboration within the atoll.

Underwater Symbiotic Relationships – Part 1

Symbiotic relationships occur when two different organisms live together. We can divide these relationships in 3 types:

Mutualism: when both individuals benefit from the relationship;

Commensalism: when only one benefits from it, while the other species is not affected;

Parasitism: when not only just one specie benefits from it but also causes harm to the other one.

We, as divers, are lucky to observe many of these underwater living arrangements. Here are just two examples:

Anemone and Clownfish

Here is a classic example of mutualism. The clownfish, also known as Nemo or anemonefish, seeks shelter in the midst of the stinging tentacles of the anemone. The anemone’s poison can paralyze other fishes but the clownfish has a thick layer of mucus and is immune to it. The anemone offers protection and a safe place for the clownfish to lay its eggs. Moreover, the clownfish also gets a little bit of food, as it eats the anemone’s dead tentacles and leftovers.

But the clownfish also has a lot to offer. It helps to scare away some predators and gets rid of parasites. Scientists say that it might even help to oxygenate the anemone as it swims through it. The fish’s excrement are full of nitrogen, which contributes to the anemone’s growth.

The anemone can also host crabs and shrimps, offering protection without getting anything in return (commensalism).

Goby and Pistol shrimp

That is a very interesting mutualistic relationship. The shrimp is almost blind, making it very hard for it to spot predators in time. In the other hand, it is a very good digger and a specialist when it comes to burrows. By contrast, the goby has an excellent eye-sight but is quite defenseless when it comes to predators. So, what a better way to survive than to combine their strengths to minimize their weaknesses?

During the day, the goby stays at the entrance of the burrow, keeping an eye out for any predators. Meanwhile, the shrimp is busy digging and improving their house. The long antenna of the shrimp is always in contact with goby’s fins. If any danger comes to sight, the goby flicks his tail in a certain way and the shrimp quickly goes back inside. If the predator gets any closer, the goby also retreats to the safety of his burrow.

When night comes, the pair goes back inside their shelter. The shrimp closes the entrance with pebbles to guarantee a good night’s sleep.

Do you want to find out more about other symbiotic relationships? Read blog part two, next week.

 

Guest Blogger at Ocean Dimensions

Diving and snorkelling in the Maldives is like no other place on Earth. Located at the incredible Kihaa Maldives Resort, Ocean Dimensions offers a range of courses and activities to allow novice and seasoned pros the chance to experience the wonders of the Indian Ocean.

With over 20 years in the Maldives, the Ocean Dimensions team not only offers its experience, but also its passion to those who would like to share and enjoy the waters around Kihaa and the world famous Baa Atoll, a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve.

Kihaa is the closest resort in the Maldives to Hanifaru Bay, a unique protected area that offers the chance to swim with manta rays and whalesharks as they come to the area to feed.

Underwater Symbiotic Relationships – Part 2

There are so many interesting symbiotic relationships happening underwater that we thought we should come back with more on the subject. If you missed our first article, you can read it here. There we explained the different types of symbiosis and introduced you to two interesting pairs. This month, we decided to talk about two other symbiotic relationships. One between a giant and a tiny fish, and the other invisible to our human eyes.

Cleaner wrasses and manta rays

Being manta season, we couldn’t leave this one out. Here is another example of mutualism, where these little fishes get food while ridding the mantas of dead skin and parasites.
The cleaner wrasses usually set up “shop” in a coral block, so the mantas can visit them. They swim around it with the mouth wide open and let the cleaners do their job. It is just like a spa or even a medical center, as the wrasses also keep the manta’s wounds clean, helping them to heal much faster.
Fun fact, the female mantas seem to spend much more time in the cleaning stations than the male ones. Does it remind you of another animal species?

Zooxanthellae and coral

Zoo…what??? We know, we know, that’s a difficult one to pronounce, but let us explain. Zooxanthellae is a brown-yellowish alga and we can definitely say it plays an essential part in the existence of coral reefs. These little algae find shelter in the coral polyp and start an interesting symbiotic relationship. The algae produce nutrients through photosynthesis, benefiting the host, which in turn expel a waste in the form of ammonium, a nutrient for the algae. Keeping this chain of food supply within, the coral has access to more food, therefore growing faster.

Global warming and coral bleaching

Coral bleaching has been a hot topic for many years now, but do you actually know what it is? The phenomenon is correlated to the symbiotic relationship above.
When the ocean gets too warm, the corals get stressed and expel the zooxanthellae, exposing its white skeleton. If the temperature quickly goes back to normal, the algae might come back, and the coral will slowly recover. A prolonged exposure to high temperature, might lead the coral to starvation, causing its death.

Guest Blogger at Ocean Dimensions

Diving and snorkelling in the Maldives is like no other place on Earth. Located at the incredible Kihaa Maldives Resort, Ocean Dimensions offers a range of courses and activities to allow novice and seasoned pros the chance to experience the wonders of the Indian Ocean.

With over 20 years in the Maldives, the Ocean Dimensions team not only offers its experience, but also its passion to those who would like to share and enjoy the waters around Kihaa and the world famous Baa Atoll, a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve.

Kihaa is the closest resort in the Maldives to Hanifaru Bay, a unique protected area that offers the chance to swim with manta rays and whalesharks as they come to the area to feed.

PADI Digital Core Courses Expand Reach

With more languages added to Open Water Diver and Freediver™ courses, and the PADI eLearning® experience becoming even more fluid, PADI® strengthens its claim as the leader in diver training.

Scuba diving is a sport/hobby/obsession that bridges borders and cultures, bringing people around the world together to enjoy the underwater environment. But people around the world have different needs and, more importantly, speak different languages.  PADI accounts for this when creating its eLearning products.

The PADI organization is making it easier for PADI Divers to access learning materials, with a digital suite of core courses that are easy to purchase, download and use. Now, these materials are offered in more languages than ever before too – further demonstrating that PADI truly is the way the world learns to dive.

Now, additional languages will be available for Open Water Diver and the popular Freediver courses (with more languages in more courses to come).

  • PADI Open Water Diver – Open Water Diver now available in seven new languages: Czech, Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Russian and Turkish.
  • PADI Freediver – Along with the existing English, the popular Freediver program is now available in 10 additional languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish, with Korean, Thai, and Russian soon to follow.

The PADI Library app will reflect these changes. If divers have automatic updates turned on in their device settings, the app will update automatically.  If not, they will need to make sure they update their app.

PADI Dive Centers and Resorts, be sure to update your eLearning preferences in your account to reflect the courses and languages you support.

Keep an eye out as more updates to the eLearning experience are coming soon.

Ribbon Eels – the stars of Nakolhu Giri

Scuba diving in the Maldives brings with it the chance to see many ‘must-see’ creatures such as manta rays, sharks and turtles as well as huge shoals of tropical fish congregating on the reefs. All of these things are hard to miss and there is a whole lot more to see when you start diving very slowly and really looking at the reef, the critters that can be found can be just as mesmerising and special as the big stuff…

One such critter is the ribbon eel, also known as a ghost moray, Rhinomuraena quaesita, it is widespread in Indo-Pacific but not so common in the Maldives so finding one is a real treat. Divers in the Lhaviyani Atoll are in the fortunate position of being able to have a go a finding them on Nakolhu Giri where sightings have been occurring for many years.

Known to inhabit the same spot, once found the ribbon eels are easily found again – as long as they are not hiding in their hole at the moment the diver passes by. It pays to be patient and keep very still,just watching the area until it eventually pokes its head and neck out again. Patient observers will be rewarded with the distinctive flattened ribbon eel with its flared, extended nostrils. They reach a length of up to one meter but typically only the head and neck are seen. Their colour is very distinctive and eye-catching; males/juveniles have a black body with a bright yellow dorsal fin. As the ribbon eel matures it slowly turns to the more commonly sighted bright blue colour, also with the yellow dorsal fin and accents around the mouth. It’s not only the colour that changes as the ribbon eel matures, upon reaching a certain size, the body of the male starts to turn yellow and develop female parts until it can eventually lay eggs, making them sequential hermaphrodites. These completely yellow females are the rarest ribbon eels to spot.

For a chance to see these fascinating creatures come and dive with Prodivers and visit the beautiful underwater island reef of Nakolhu Giri.

Are Our Efforts in the Maldives to Reduce Plastic Waste Really Worth It?

We are overwhelmed with the fantastic response from businesses and like minded travellers looking at ways to improve sustainability through sustainable initiatives like banning single use plastic straws in the Maldives and around the world. Everyone is discussing what we will lose if we don’t take action now, but what will we gain? Is there really any benefit to this massive international surge of environmental awareness and initiatives? We discuss here some exciting things we will gain from all our efforts:

Creating Employment

Once people get into the habit of bringing reusable bags when they are shopping people will seek more durable bags so they last longer, thus creating new job opportunities for manufacturing durable sustainable shopping bags, thus creating employment! In Male Maldives Authentic Crafts Cooperative Society (MACCS) an advocate for alternatives to single use plastic bags in the Maldives are producing bags for life and working with corner stores, supermarkets and households to reduce the usage of single use plastic bags.

Saving Energy with a More Efficient Production Process

To produce nine plastic bags it takes the equivalent energy of driving a car 1km. Considering the typical life span of a plastic bag is about 12 minutes of use, this is a very inefficient use of time, energy and products. Creating sustainable, reusable bags makes more sense and uses far less energy.

Happy Marine Life!

There is an estimated 46,000 to 1,000,000 plastic fragments floating within every square mile of the world’s ocean. Often they are mistaken for food by animals, birds, and marine life like fish and sea turtles. The consumed plastic then congests the digestive tracts of these animals, and can lead to health issues such as infections and even death by suffocation. By us all working together to reduce this waste, marine life, birds and other animals won’t have to suffer these terrible infections or slow painful deaths from excessive plastic waste. Meaning they will have a safer, happier environment to live in and both guests as well as those who live in the Maldives can continue to enjoy our marine life bio diversity.

Healthy Humans

Plastic fragments in the ocean can absorb pollutants like PCBs and PAHs, which are known to be hormone-disrupting chemicals. These chemicals can be consumed and make their way through the ocean’s food chain which then pass into humans who eat fish and other marine organisms.Given that tuna forms part of the staple diet of Maldivians and that the fishing industry is also a key exporter of fish products, less pollutant means healthier humans!

Money Saved on Clean Up Can Be Used For Other Things

A lot of time, money and selfless effort from individuals and groups are contributed to the efforts of ocean and beach clean ups. Image what this money could be spent on if we were no longer fighting the plastic battle. Not to mention the extra time we would all have on our hands! A week doesn’t go by where there is not a beach clean-up organised on at least one island in the Maldives. Let’s estimate that there is 50 people cleaning for 4 hours once a week;our conservative estimate is over 10,500 hours a year being donated for free time by locals and tourists. Together with the expense of rubbish collection bags, gloves and travel.

Saving Money on the Weekly Shopping

Plastic bags cost about 3-5 cents each to produce, and that cost is either incorporated into prices of the items sold at stores or you as the shopper have to pay for the bag, either way you as the consumer are absorbing all the costs of these plastic bags. It is said that the average American shopper will use 500 bags per year, 80% of these are plastic. Image the money you will be saving if stores didn’t need to apply these additional costs into your shopping. More money to save for your vacations to the Maldives!

Some Top Tip on Staying Plastic Free on Your Holiday to the Maldives

Reusable Containers

The popular traditional afternoon snack hedhikaa is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. However take outs are often presented in the blue plastic bags. So by bringing your own reusable container you are refusing a single use plastic bag.

Refuse Plastic Straws

Let’s face it most of us don’t need to use a straw and those that do can use alternatives. So the next time you order a drink or enjoy a local coconut, refuse the plastic straw and tag us online #strawwarMV

Re-useable Water Bottles

So many more places are offering fresh, clean drinking water to re-fill your water bottle. So instead of drinking small bottles of water and throwing them out, re-fill your own water bottle.

Join a Beach Clean Up

We know you are on your holidays when you visit the Maldives but as you will be visiting the local islands why no find out if there is a beach cleanup organised during your stay. We work closely with Save the Beach and The Cleaning Quest, if you let us know before you arrive we can incorporate it into your tour package.

Secret Paradise

Since 2012 Secret Paradise has been at the forefront of the Maldives local island tourism industry, promoting and supporting guesthouses, dive centres and activity operators based on locally inhabited islands throughout the Maldives archipelago.

How can PADI Stores use Micro Influencers?

Social media has evolved quickly over the last decade. From humble beginnings to a multi-billion dollar industry, social media has infiltrated most of our daily lives. Businesses know this and subsequently invest millions into their digital and social marketing strategies. There has been a shift in recent times to the rise of the Micro Influencer.

Who are they?

Micro influencers are the connecting bridge between real people and brands. Celebrity endorsements are insanely expensive and out of touch with the end user. As such, brands look to connect with real people through real people. For example, the user scrolling through their Instagram page will have a higher affinity to an experience hungry travel blogger with a few thousand followers compared to a well-established sponsored influencer with millions of followers. Why? The less well-known blogger, or Micro Influencer is more real to us and subsequently more relatable.

Ronaldo (sponsored athlete) vs. Dom (adventure traveller, domonthego.com)

sponsored influencer

micro-influencer

 

What does this mean for a PADI Dive Shop?

You offer adventure. You give people the opportunity to go places others can’t and see things others don’t even know exist. You can sell that all day long – but the consumer knows you’re selling it. You’re using the words you want to use and in the style you want to be perceived. That’s fine. That’s your marketing. However, in a time where social media reigns supreme, a micro influencer talking about you in their language and their style, is a much more powerful marketing asset.

How to get involved?

Option 1:

Wait for an influencer to contact you. If your dive store is in an exotic location and a couple of travelling micro influencers are heading there, you may find they’ll be looking to get a fix of adventure and content. Remember, they need you as much as you need them. They need fresh new content, and your dive store is the perfect backdrop. Requests may come in all shapes and sizes: “can I get my Advanced Open Water Diver course in exchange for some posts on Instagram”, or “for $75 I can advertise your page on my social feeds to a combined audience of 9,000 followers”.

Option 2:

iconosquare

Actively search for influencers. Use Iconosquare to search relevant hashtags for your region, industry and lifestyle. Explore the profiles and find your perfect match. Look for an audience size of up to 10,000 followers. Make sure they fit the SCUBA lifestyle you want to portray. A micro influencer who has actively been promoting something contrary to your business ethos, may end up being detrimental. For example, if the influencer had supported spearfishing in an earlier post, this may backfire when they promote your dive center.

What to ask them?

Ask the micro influencers for page insights. You want to know about their followers, both real and percentage of potential fake followers. Note, fake followers/accounts are bought in order to bump up the numbers.  Expect to learn about the engagement of their posts. A high audience number but a very low percentage of engagement is a potential indication of a fake audience. You want to know where their audience is from. For example, if you want to target the local market but the micro influencers’ main audience comes from a different country, you should avoid them (unless looking at bringing in tourism, of course).

The agreement

What are you prepared to offer in exchange for social media exposure? A Discover Scuba Diver? A PADI Open Water Diver course? A day on the boat? A cash payment? This will depend on what you think marketing is worth. How much would you spend to take an advert out in a local magazine to promote your center? This is the social media equivalent. Manage expectations early on and don’t be afraid to ask for more. Ask for a post on Instagram and Facebook, but with an accompanying mention in a blog post on their website. If they write a blog post about their recent trip to a location titled, “5 amazing things to do in ____” and one of those things is SCUBA diving, make sure they deeplink from their blog post to your website. These are known as backlinks and are SEO gold dust.

If you need more assistance with micro influencers, contact your PADI Regional Manager or the PADI Marketing department.

Refer a Friend Campaign Tools to Increase Certifications

New tools available in the campaigns folder of the Retailer and Resort Association Marketing Toolbox.

Refer a Friend Tools found here

These tools have been designed to encourage your customers to bring friends and family to your dive store. You may already give incentives to returning customers for referring friends, but is it known to all of your customers?

To fully integrate this campaign, create a landing page on your website with your Refer a Friend special offer. Then incorporate these tools across your website and newsletters pointing to the newly created page:

Print A1 posters for in-store displays and hand out A4  flyers to customers for offline marketing:

The Refer a Friend offer?

Consider the following incentives as potential offers for the Refer a Friend Campaign:

  • Discount for your next dive
  • Discount for your next PADI course
  • Discount on diving equipment
  • Refer 5 friends and get a free dive
  • Refer 5 friends and get a free pair of fins
  • Refer 5 friends and get 50% off your next PADI course

Implement the Refer A Friend campaign across your emails to ensure maximum exposure and awareness amongst your customers. You can add a Call To Action to your current email templates, or use one of the PADI email templates using your Mailchimp login**. Send the email to your students and divers whenever they have completed a course, trip or dive.

** You will need to add your logo and edit the links to point to your dive store’s pages. As default they re-direct to PADI.com pages.

Click Here for Template

 

Discover all the assets available for your integrated Refer a Friend campaign in the RRA Marketing Toolbox today. If you need assistance, contact your PADI Regional Manager or the PADI EMEA Marketing Department.

Women’s Dive Day Maldives

50 local female divers ‘splash down’ with Moodhu Goyye for PADI Women’s Dive Day

 

Local women divers pictured during the PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 21, 2018. PHOTO/MOODHU GOYYE

The Maldives participated in the fourth annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on Saturday, with over 50 local female divers who enthusiastically dove into the event.

This marks the third time for the archipelago to take part in this special dive organised by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), which brings together the female dive community from around the world to bond and share their love for the ocean and marine life.

Local women divers pictured during the PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 21, 2018. PHOTO/MOODHU GOYYE

 

The Maldives participated in the fourth annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on Saturday, with over 50 local female divers who enthusiastically dove into the event.

This marks the third time for the archipelago to take part in this special dive organised by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), which brings together the female dive community from around the world to bond and share their love for the ocean and marine life.

Local women divers pictured during the PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 21, 2018. PHOTO/MOODHU GOYYE

Participating from Maldives are the members of “Moodhu Goyye”, an unofficial community of local women with a shared passion for water sports.

“This year we have 50 certified female divers taking part in the PADI Women’s Dive Day, in addition to five local instructors and four dive masters – all female,” PADI Course Director Zoona Naseem and Dive Instructor Shaziya Saeed told The Edition.

A giant moray eel photographed during the PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 21, 2018. PHOTO/MOODHU GOYYE

The event began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m., with two dives scheduled. The first dive, according to Shaziya, was at ‘Lankan’ near Paradise Island Resort, while the second was at ‘Furana North’, a dive site off the coast of Furanafushi in capital Male Atoll.

Noting that Moodhu Goyye continues to attract more women towards the field of water sports, Shaziya expressed hopes that participating in the PADI Women’s Dive Day event would bring more women of all ages on board Scuba Diving.

Local women divers pictured during the PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 21, 2018. PHOTO/MOODHU BULHAA

“Since all the dive guides at this event are women, we’re hoping to not only engage more ladies in recreational diving, but show that there are great opportunities for them in this field,” she said, further highlighting that two out of the three PADI-certified local course directors in Maldives are women.

“The field of diving is a very positive one here,” agreed Zoona. “There is a lot of support for female divers.”

A turtle photographed during the PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 21, 2018. PHOTO/MOODHU GOYYE

Thanking various sponsors and dive centres that supplied the equipment and boats for the Women’s Dive Day, Zoona and Shaziya declared that they were looking to reach new heights with the local female dive community in the future.

“One of our future plans is to break the world record for most women Scuba Diving together, here in Maldives,” revealed Zoona. “We want to make the record by a substantial margin.”

Local women divers pictured before the PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 21, 2018. PHOTO/MOODHU GOYYE

PADI introduced the Women’s Dive Day in 2015, and it has continued to gain momentum as both new and experienced divers geared up for the events, which range from beginner to advanced dives as well as underwater clean-ups.

PADI Pros America reported that female certifications are noticeably increasing every year, noting that over 880 events were hosted in 85 countries just last year for the Women’s Dive Day.

PADI’s guest blogger  Fathmath Shaahunaz  introduces herself:

Fathmath Shaahunaz is a long-established shinnichi currently writing as senior Journalist at The Edition. A self described ‘english nerd’, she also harbours a deep appreciation for ocean and all things magical.  The Edition brings readers the most comprehensive news coverage throughout the Maldives delivering the latest in breaking news and updates covering defining moments in politics, business, sports, travel, entertainment and lifestyle across the country and the region. 

www.edition.mv

 

Coral Lines Findings 2018

Our 2018 Coral Line update brings together different success stories, in the form of expanding the nursery, creating a workshop, and most importantly seeing a steady survival rate of our coral fragments.

IMPROVEMENTS

After four years, the Coral Lines Project was in need of expansion. Therefore, in May 2018 we added six new metal frames alongside the existing nursery.  This will allow us to continue the project into the future without the limitation of space.  We have phased out the use of plastic cable ties and now attach the lines to the frames by tying the end of the rope to each frame. We also up-graded the project by retagging all 204 lines to ensure identification is up to date. During this process, we removed all coral lines with no living colonies. Now we will have a much clearer view of the project into the future.

In March 2018, the Marine Biology team conducted training on how to implement and manage a coral line project. We invited interested researchers from resorts and local islands to Gili Lankanfushi to participate in a Coral Line Workshop.  The full day tutorial taught others to create their own project using a step-by-step process.  Some of the Workshop attendees have now begun their own coral rehabilitation projects on local islands.From November 2017, we began a coral recruitment project which will measure the coral larvae settlement and survival. This project is ongoing today with results expected in three months.Finally, in February 2018, we moved our Marine Biology blog and Coral Lines blog onto the Gili Lankanfushi Resort official website so it is more easily accessed by our guests and interested readers. As of June 2017, this blog is now published by PADI and reaches five million readers.

SURVIVAL

We have planted 204 lines in the nursery over a four year period and after a recent survey of re-tagging and removing dead coral lines we have found that 158 lines still remain in the nursery. Out of the 9928 colonies planted, 6713 remain alive.

 

 

There has been a steady increase in colonies added to the project with an overall survival rate of 68% which remains the same as our findings in May 2017.  The rate of survival is less than pre-bleaching in 2016.  However, it far exceeds the survival rate of coral on the house reef which was found to be between 5% – 10% after a recent coral cover survey.

GROWTH RATE

Every three months after planting a line, we measure the widest point of the coral fragments to determine growth rate and note the fragments survival level. We measure each line for a period of one year.The species found to be most resilient post bleaching were A.aspera, A. pulchra and A.muricata. Although P.lichen does not show a huge increase in growth it has a high survival rate. Whereas, A. digitifera has a particularly high mortality rate (90%) and we have consequently not planted any more of these.

GROWTH FORMS

Species of coral can more simply be grouped into ‘growth forms’. We are mostly using bushy and digitate species as these are the growth forms that have survived best on the lines.We have an abundance of Porites lichen on the house reef which we have just started using on our lines when it is broken off in storms.  This accounts for a 2% increase in submassive form 4% in 2017 to 6% in 2018.

TRANSPLANTATION

In June 2017, we transplanted 15 fragments of A.humilis onto our house reef.  It was our biggest transplantation post bleaching.  The line survived for around two months but bleached due to predation despite our attempts to remove all coral predators.Due to the fragility of coral, our rehabilitation plans are very flexible, and subject to a long monitoring period.  We adapt our approach and long term management to ensure we keep up with the changing environment of the reef. So far in 2018, the ocean surface temperature has not been stable enough to transplant our lines on the reef but we will continue monitoring the situation.

FUTURE PLANS

Many of our lines are so large and heavy after four years of growth that we have had to hang the lines over the frames in order to keep them off the floor.  In these cases, we would like the lines to hang from frame to frame and therefore we plan to attach flotation devices at intervals along the line to reduce the total overall weight.

PADI’s guest blogger Clare Baranowski introduces herself:

I am a marine zoologist from the UK who has worked throughout the tropics researching mega fauna and reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. I have experience monitoring and restoring coral and surveying manta, turtle and dolphin populations. I began my career as a science communicator before moving into research and management roles, this is why I incorporate outreach and education into every project I work on and I hope to continue this at Gili Lankanfushi