Six Marine Areas in Baa Atoll Declared as Protected
Maldives Promotion House – Baa Atoll is an administrative division of the Maldives consisting of three separate natural atolls, namely southern Maalhosmadulu Atoll, the Fasdūtherē Atoll and the smaller natural atoll known as Goifulhafehendhu Atoll.
Maalhosmadulu Atoll is famed for its rich biodiversity that includes large mangroves and a unique diversity of fauna. Furthermore, the ring-shaped reef forms are a reef structure which is unique to the Maldives.
Hanifaru Bay is considered one the few places in the world where whale sharks congregate in to mate. The bay is however home to some of the largest gatherings of Manta rays worldwide with up to one hundred individuals in the small inlet when the tide pushes plankton into the bay.
Recently six areas of Baa atoll were declared protected under law, while the already protected two areas were extended. The Environment Ministry and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) issued the declaration to mark the World Environment Day.
Mendhu, one of the uninhabited islands of the atoll and its house reef are among the protected areas. Several other uninhabited islands surrounding the area were also declared as protected, making up a total of 200 meter.
The other protected areas include, the marshy swamp in Goidhoo, Dhorukandu, Maahuruvalhi Faru including its surrounding area, Mathifaruhura Isand including house reef, Bathalaahura Island including house reef, Gaaganduhura Isand including house reef and Vinanehfaruhura Island including house reef.
The surrounding area of the shipwreck of “Kobin,” the ship that ran aground on Fulhadhoo in 1602 is also included in the list of protected areas. The extended areas are Dhigalihaa area, protected since 1998, and the area around Hanifaru Island, protected since 2009. Dhigaligiri and Hanifaru were the extensions to the protected areas.
According to the Environment Ministry, negotiations are underway with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to include Baa Atoll as a biosphere reserve of Maldives.