So far in 2016 we have planted 26 new frames and doubled the size of our coral nursery! This takes us to a total of 205 frames in the water.
2016 has been an interesting year worldwide in terms of marine activity; large areas of the Pacific Ocean and the Great Barrier Reef have recorded high water temperatures and severe cases of coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is a complex process that can result in the death of huge areas of coral. The below video explains it beautifully!
Although the video talks about the Great Barrier Reef, the Maldives has also been affected with water temperatures of 34C noted in some areas. Close to our Reef Recharge project we have had temperatures of 31C since the end of April. This is when we started to notice some coral paling and low level bleaching. The water temperature has now started to drop but it will be a long time before it returns to the normal 28C.
As the temperature has already started to decrease with the arrival of the southwest monsoon season we hope that the bleaching will be halted and as the water temperature returns to normal we will see a recovery in the coral. El Nino and coral bleaching is a natural phenomenon, there is almost nothing we can do except wait for the conditions to pass. Coral planting has currently been suspended as fragments have enough stress with the high water temperatures – they do not need the added stress of transplantation. We are also putting extra monitoring protocols into place with added algae removal to help keep the fragments clean. Any fragments that have already died are being removed and will be replaced once the water temperature has returned to normal and the coral nursery has recovered some of its colour.
The aim is to return to normal planting once the water temperature decreases to 29C and either remains there or continues to decrease. This is predicted to be at the end of June at the earliest. Please understand that we are doing everything in our power to protect the coral and will continue to monitor and repair the frames in the coming months.
Thank you once again for your continued support! The next update will be in September, in the meantime keep up to date with what is happening through our Facebook page.