Colonies of Hope

Blog written by guest blogger and marine biologist Clare Baranowski

Preserving coral reefs is a growing concern in the Maldives

At Gili Lankanfushi, we are recovering our coral reefs through the Coral lines Project. By growing small fragments of coral on hanging ropes (lines) and then transplanting them to our house reef near One Palm Island, we hope to see regeneration and aim to kick start the health of our house reef.

Our Coral Lines Project started three years ago and currently holds around 7484 coral colonies. We are consistently adding small fragments of coral to the already growing population on 153 lines.

Josie monitoring our 153 coral lines

The vulnerable nature of coral populations mean that they undergo cycles of disturbance and recovery. Our house reef was affected by warmer waters created by the El Nino event in 2016 which bleached much of the corals. Yet against all odds, most fragments in our coral lines nursery survived.  They have also been faced with a Crown of Thorns (coral predators) outbreak this year and have still remained intact.

In some cases, the corals in our lines are no longer present on shallow reefs in the area.

Now, is the perfect time to begin stage two of our coral restoration project by moving coral from our nursery to our house reef.  Transplanting coral is a delicate procedure with a lot of trial and error. We began slowly by creating a test site with a small number of coral colonies to ensure we would not lose healthy coral unnecessarily.

Josie beginning the process

We found a site with conditions not too dissimilar to the nursery. The area had to be flat and solid, with no loose material and space for growth.  It also had to be an area that is easily accessible for monitoring, but nowhere in danger of tampering or accidental damage.  We chose a depth of 8 metres in the middle of house reef drop off where we regularly snorkel. Another major concern was the Crown of Thorns Starfish, so we placed the coral in an area visited regularly by Harvey Edwards, Ocean Paradise Dive Centre manager, who has been removing these starfish from the reef for months.

Clare cutting the coral from the line

The next step was to cut the colonies from the lines in the nursery, and transport them in mesh bags in the water. We decided to use three different Acropora species to begin with as they are fast growing and like a lot of light and a moderate current. Once at the site, we cleaned the area of algae and attached the coral to ensure protection from extreme water movement. We placed them an equal distance apart to allow quick growth and attached the coral using epoxy, which is a clay like cement. We were aware from previous studies that Miliput (epoxy clay) has been seen to kill the part of the coral it is attaching, so we placed small amounts of putty at the base of the coral.

Once a week, for a total of six weeks, we will measure growth and survivorship of the coral.  We hope to replicate the test at different depths and locations to find a suitable site to start a larger restoration project. However, we will hold off on most of the major transplantation until after the monsoon season.

Attaching the colonies using epoxy

Due to the fragility of coral species, our rehabilitation plans are very flexible, and subject to a long monitoring period.  We expect to adapt our approach and long term management to ensure we keep up with the changing environment of the reef. Previous restoration plans have been hindered by external threats, so we are so excited to finally begin this project. We will be producing scientific data along the way which we hope will contribute to current coral reef rehabilitation knowledge.

Although our transplants are working well so far, we will still have many question to answer in the future such as: are the corals on the house reef still reproducing? As these corals survived the last bleaching, will they be more genetically suited to future hostile conditions? The answers to these questions are all just a work in progress and we will have to keep on watching and learning as we replant and monitor these corals over the next few years. As our house reef sustained a lot of mortality and the coral cover is low, we hope that this new project will help to rejuvenate the reef and raise awareness.

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.

In Depth: Dive Against Debris Specialty

Many divers are taking action to help fight marine debris. Teaching the Dive Against Debris® Distinctive Specialty is a great way to encourage your students to comprehend the global threat of marine debris and take meaningful steps to protect our oceans.

Who can teach Dive Against Debris®?
All renewed PADI instructors can apply to teach the Project AWARE®’s Dive Against Debris® Distinctive Specialty after completing a Dive Against Debris® Distinctive Specialty Instructor Course with a PADI Course Director, or by direct application.                                                                        

What do I need to be able to teach Dive Against Debris®?
You will need the Dive Against Debris® Instructor Guide and the Dive Against Debris® Specialty Course toolkit.

How can I link this with other courses?

The revised and updated PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course gives your students the chance to experience a Dive Against Debris® Adventure Dive – if you’re certified as an instructor in the specialty, and the student diver meets the specialty prerequisites.

If you conduct your PADI Open Water Diver course open water dives over 2 days, you may consider adding the Dive Against Debris® Distinctive Specialty as an optional dive once your students have completed their final PADI Open Water Diver Course dive.

Dive centres with a dive club, can offer the Dive Against Debris® course to club members, so they can collect debris and record their data, which may not already be monitored.

Also make sure you ask your students to choose a Project AWARE version of their PADI certification card to support a clean and healthy ocean.

 Schools and youth groups
The Dive Against Debris® course is a great opportunity to promote scuba diving to local schools and youth groups. School children will learn about the PADI Open Water Diver course, which covers various curriculum subjects including physics and physiology, and also about global conservation whilst having the opportunity to contribute to marine debris citizen science by logging their data on the Project AWARE website.

If you are not already registered as a PADI Approved Youth Centre (available for UK dive centres only) download the PADI Approved Youth Centre information pack. Send your completed PADI Approved Youth Training Centre application (located in the Appendix of the PADI Approved Youth Centre information pack) to your Regional Training Consultant su-li.wong@padi.com or emily.petley-jones@padi.com.

 

Kuredu Prodivers became 100% AWARE Partner

Pro divers logoProdivers this week partnered with Project AWARE, a global non-profit organization, to join their growing number of 100% AWARE Partners who put ocean protection at the heart of their business. From May, 2016 Kuredu Prodivers will make a regular donation to protect the underwater world our dive business relies on.

100% AWARE is a Partner Giving Program. All student divers who complete a course with a 100% AWARE dive centre receive a Project AWARE limited edition card. It’s a great way to remind divers that the place where they learned to dive or furthered their diving education made a gift to protect the ocean on their behalf.Clean up

Kuredu Prodivers is proud to join dedicated dive centers across the world who act locally and think globally.” says Hannah Olbrich “We take pride in knowing that our donation to Project AWARE for every student diver who completes a diving course with us not only helps educate divers about ocean conservation but also supports Project AWARE’s mission to mobilize the world’s divers into a global force to protect the ocean one dive at a time.”

Kuredu Prodivers has shown dedication to ocean conservation through their participation in Project AWARE activities. Their commitment to the 100% AWARE program makes them shine as they not only lead by example but demonstrate to their students the importance of supporting ocean protection. Thank you for leading the way,” says Alex Earl, Executive Director Project AWARE Foundation.

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For additional information about Project AWARE’s 100% AWARE Partner program and to join the global movement for ocean protection, visit www.projectaware.org.

Please visit the Website of the beautiful Island of Kurdeu or visit the Prodivers Website for more information.

 

 

Adopt a Dive Site This Earth Day

Adopt a Dive SiteOn Earth Day, April 22, Project AWARE® announces its latest initiative supporting the fight against marine debris: Adopt a Dive Site™. Harnessing the unique underwater skill set of the scuba diving community, Adopt a Dive Site urges scuba diving leaders around the globe – including dive instructors, dive centres and resorts – to engage in ongoing, local protection and monitoring of our underwater playgrounds.

Adopt A Site MaterialsSeated within Project AWARE’s flagship citizen-science program, Dive Against Debris™, Adopt a Dive Site is tailored to the global nonprofit organization’s most dedicated dive leaders: participants commit to carry-out monthly Dive Against Debris surveys, reporting types and quantities of marine debris found underwater each month from the same location. To support its community, Project AWARE will provide Adopt a Dive Site participants with a full suite of new survey tools to help implement their actions, a yearly report on the state of participants’ local dive sites and recognition tools for dive centers, resorts and leaders to share their stewardship with local customers and community.

Take your Dive Against Debris™ to the next level with Project AWARE’s new Adopt a Dive Site global campaign.  Read the full press release and Sign Up Today!

Beneath the Waves with Project AWARE

Our-ocean-2015

In preparation for the Our Ocean 2015 international conference in Chile on October 5-6, US Secretary of State John Kerry has posed the question, “What will you do to protect the ocean?

Project AWARE’s answer? Taking action against trash through Dive Against Debris. Scuba divers everywhere are taking a stand against the onslaught of marine debris. With our underwater skill set, we’re uniquely positioned to shine light on what we see beneath the waves – the negative impacts of underwater debris on ocean ecosystems and wildlife.

Share your underwater marine debris photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #BeneathTheWaves. Project AWARE will add them to their global “Beneath the Waves” photo collage to show decision-makers your underwater perspective and urge for long-term, global solutions to the marine debris issue.

We have just 30 days to show what lurks beneath the waves – share your photos of trash underwater today!

The Our Ocean 2015 conference aims to promote voluntary governmental and institutional commitments to care for the ocean. Over 400 political, academic and civil society figures as well as industry, philanthropy and nonprofit leaders will discuss solutions to topics such as illegal fishing, marine plastic pollution, ocean acidification and climate change.

Through Dive Against Debris, Project AWARE divers remove and report marine debris found beneath the waves. The trash you remove during Dive Against Debris makes the ocean safer for marine life, and more importantly, the information you report helps inform policy change. Our Ocean 2015 offers divers the opportunity to use grassroots action to empower global change.

 

World Oceans Day 2015: Project AWARE explains the Ugly Journey of our Trash

Ugly Journey of our Trash 2015

How does our trash make its way from land to sea? Project AWARE’s new animated infographic explains the ugly journey, and shines light on the dangers our litter poses to marine ecosystems and wildlife along the way. While the marine debris issue may at first appear daunting, there is hope! With our underwater skill set, the dive community is uniquely positioned to contribute to global solutions by participating in Dive Against Debris, Project AWARE’s year-round underwater debris removal and reporting program.

We all want a healthy ocean and healthy planet – join Project AWARE in the fight against marine debris – become a Debris Activist this World Oceans Day and all year long!
Ugly Journey of our Trash Video

Our ocean is under siege. From everyday trash like plastic bags, food wrappers and drink bottles, to larger items like car batteries, kitchen appliances and fishing nets, our debris is entering the sea at an alarming rate. Our ocean has become a dumping ground.

Marine debris is not only unsightly, it’s dangerous to sea life, hazardous to human health, and costly to our economies. Marine animals can become entangled in debris or mistake small particles of trash for food – often with fatal results. Divers, swimmers and beachgoers can be directly harmed by encounters with debris or its toxins. And, the costs of plastic debris to marine ecosystems are estimated at 13 billion dollars a year. Better information about sources and impacts is extremely important to drive changes in infrastructure and waste management policies at all levels.

Who is responsible? All of us. Together we can help prevent and clear up this mess for a clean, healthy ocean planet.

Download and share “The Ugly Journey of Our Trash” to educate your community on how our rubbish becomes the ocean’s problem.

Project AWARE: Debris Month of Action is Here

Debris Month of Action

September is Project AWARE’s Debris Month of Action – a time when thousands of scuba divers around the world unite and take action against marine debris – the ocean’s silent killer. But don’t think of it as just a one-time dive to take out the trash. It’s so much more than that. With events happening around the globe this month, there are many options for you to get involved. Go to projectaware.org to find out more.

Teach the New Dive Against Debris Specialty

Dive Against Debris Specialty Course

This month, Project AWARE is excited to announce the launch of a New Distinctive Specialty course: the Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty.

Led by you, the PADI Instructor, now divers of all experience levels can be equipped with better knowledge of debris issues and empowered with the skills to complete ongoing Dive Against Debris surveys.

From planning the dive to reporting the debris data, the Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty prepares students to participate and support regular Dive Against Debris surveys, join other surveys, or, in case of more experienced divers, to start surveys of their own.

The course:

  • Educates divers about the messy problem of marine debris – the damage done, what it is, where it comes from, and how divers are part of the solution.
  • Equips divers with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct a Dive Against Debris survey –  considerations for creating a survey dive profile, use of photography, and decision making on what to remove and what to leave behind.
  • Highlights the five steps needed to record and report findings from a Dive Against Debris dive – weigh, sort, record, dispose, and report.
  • Explains how to join the global Project AWARE movement of scuba divers protecting our ocean planet.

If you’re looking to really make a difference and support a growing global army of volunteers combatting ocean trash, then teaching this course is for you. Students will gain a PADI certification which counts towards their PADI Master Scuba Diver and they’ll be well on their way to leading and organizing their own surveys no matter where they live or dive. Plus your Instructor Rating counts towards your own PADI Master Scuba Diving Instructor rating. PADI Course Directors can also apply for the Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty Instructor Trainer rating.

Join other leaders around the world and become a Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty Instructor today. PADI will generously donate the application fee to Project AWARE. All teaching materials are available free to download.

New Interactive Dive Against Debris Map

Dive Against Debris Map

Scuba divers worldwide remove and report marine debris found below the surface

An interactive map launched this week by Project AWARE visualizes nearly three years of ongoing reporting by an international network of volunteer scuba divers who remove trash they find underwater through the Dive Against Debris programme.

Dive Against Debris empowers scuba divers around the world to remove and report types and amounts of trash they find underwater. The web-based reporting platform enables divers to submit their data and images online. This information is now being shown on the new interactive Dive Against Debris map, shedding light on the growing marine debris problem that remains largely invisible to the wider public.

“Armed with the information, supported by people on the ground, and working in partnerships, we can drive much needed change for the ocean from two directions: bottom up and top down,” said Ania Budziak, Associate Director of Science and Policy for Project AWARE. “Together, we can change what we produce, consume, and how we dispose of our waste. We can also influence policies necessary to improve how waste is managed locally, regionally and globally.”

Our trash does not belong in the environment yet millions of tons of it enter the ocean each year. So far, the number one type of trash reported by Project AWARE divers is plastic – making up nearly 70 percent of the items. These include single use plastics we throw away everyday like bottles and bags that animals mistake for food as well as fishing line and nets that entangle marine life with devastating consequences. The map, which visualizes more than 400,000 items of debris reported so far, underscores why initiatives to reduce waste are so critical.

Project AWARE’s new Dive Against Debris map represents the first opportunity to instantly visualize what is reported and where on a global scale. The organization hopes to use this information to target debris prevention initiatives, reduce the amount of rubbish entering the ocean and ultimately protect wildlife.

“As scuba divers, we’re able to use our unique skills and knowledge to collect data to show the devastating impacts our waste has on life beneath the waves,” said Budziak. “Project AWARE volunteers who remove and report underwater debris are members of a unique community that contribute to a clean and healthy ocean and also inspire us all to make ocean friendly choices every day.”

View the map to see what divers are finding underwater and get involved at projectaware.org/DiveAgainstDebrisMap.

Scuba Divers Fight Back Against Marine Debris

Every day, scuba divers around the world battle the ocean’s silent killer – marine debris – from beneath the surface. Their mission during this September’s Debris Month of Action? To inspire year-round action to remove, report and prevent underwater debris while combating the growing marine debris problem.

Project AWARE Debris Month of Action

More than six million tons of marine litter is estimated to enter the ocean each year. Once there, our trash accumulates and includes everything from plastic bags, food wrappers and drink bottles to car batteries, fishing nets and industrial waste.

Project AWARE is engaging the dive community in the fight against marine debris. By participating in Debris Month of Action this September, divers and ocean advocates can: (Continue Reading …)

Want to get involved but not sure how to get started?

Check out the Dive Against Debris Event Organizer Kit – Download helpful tools to recruit, organize and recognize your volunteers as well as ideas for how to organize additional activities alongside your survey such as a family fun day, BBQ lunch or fundraiser.