To visit the Maldives and not snorkel or dive amongst the coral reefs would be missing one of the best things about this incredible destination. Coral reefs are one of the most important and diverse ecosystems on the planet, they support more species per unit area than any other marine habitat and anyone who ventures out to the reefs surrounding Hurawalhi will be astounded by the abundance of life just a few kicks away from the beach.
Coral reefs are extremely fragile and vulnerable to any changes in the ocean including pollution, human activity such as destructive fishing methods and also natural cyclical change in ocean temperatures caused by El Niño events. If the corals are not healthy this will lead to a chain of events that affect the entire food web that depends upon the corals. The reef structures provide not only a place to find food, but also shelter from predators, spawning grounds and protection of beaches by forming a physical barrier that breaks the wave energy so reducing erosion.
At Hurawalhi we have active coral reef restoration programs where broken, but otherwise healthy, coral fragments are collected and fixed to structures on the seabed, these will in time, with a little nurturing and the right conditions, grow to a mature and thriving reef. The latest coral reef restoration project began just over a year ago in August 2021 with the establishment of a MARRS web of ‘reef stars’ on the top reef near Kashibo. In November 2021, this was extended down the reef slope in front of 5.8 Undersea Restaurant with work continuing with regular coral gardening and monitoring. The MARRS system involves installing a continuous web of hexagonal, sand-coated steel structures with coral fragments attached, to areas of damaged or sparse reef. The structures provide the right conditions for rapid coral growth and the results can be seen by snorkelling or diving over the restored areas. We look forward to providing updates as the reef matures but it is already attracting lots of fish!