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Maldives: Saving the Corals
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Maldives: Saving the Corals
WRITER: Elwin Chan PHOTOS BY: Alvin Toh
Maldives: Saving the Corals 30. October 2017, by Elwin Chan, Photos by Alvin Toh

Maldives has the seventh largest coral reef system in the world. Within and beyond the lagoons of Gili Lankanfushi, a rich and diverse marine life flourishes, with over 1,100 species of fish including sharks and rays, 23 species of whales and dolphins, 187 species of hard coral, 400 species of mollusc, and over 193 species of crabs and prawns. Around the resort, right below the jetties leading to the overwater villas, spotted eagle rays, black tip reef sharks, and green turtles swim next to colourful and bewildering fishes. Nature in the Maldives is never short of astounding.

Yet, the delicate coral reef system is in danger, due in large part to climate change. Rising sea temperatures have resulted in coral bleaching, a process where coral polyps expel algae that lives inside their tissues. If the temperature stays high for a prolonged period of time, mass mortality of the coral takes place.

Marine biologist Clare Baranowski at Gili Veshi, Gili Lankanfushi’s new marine biology centre.
The resort started a Coral Lines Project to recover coral reefs by nursing coral fragments on ropes.
Guests can join the marine biology team in sustainability programmes, including coral watch dives.
It takes between two to three years for coral fragments to grow into healthy, living corals.

In a bid to save the corals, the marine biology team at Gili Lankanfushi embarked on a Coral Lines Project in 2014. The resort is the first in the Maldives to recover local coral reefs by nursing coral on ropes. Every rope is initially planted with 50 small, living coral fragments, which are then nursed in the lagoon. Once the corals are bigger and healthier, they are transplanted onto the resort’s house reefs. Efforts like this, where guests can also contribute by donating to the project, help improve the health of the reefs.

To shed light on the various conservation issues, and also to serve as an outreach to guests, Gili Lankanfushi has recently set up an innovative new marine biology centre called Gili Veshi, meaning Gili Environment in the local Dhivehi language. Through this centre, guests can be involved in the resort’s other environmental sustainability programmes, including coral watch dives, planting seagrass to create new feeding grounds for endangered turtles, and even help in manta ray photo identification. To save our planet, it truly takes everyone.

Read more about how at Gili Lankanfushi, guests experience a more discerning level of luxury.

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