New year, new coral project at Hurawalhi Maldives

The coral reefs of the Maldives are a national treasure; these ecosystems are home to a huge diversity and abundance of marine life and they leave snorkelers and scuba divers in awe of their beauty.

Hurawalhi Maldives is blessed with incredible reefs, not only on its very own doorstep but also many others within easy reach, making snorkelling and diving excursions easy – you won’t need to go far to see many of the Maldives’ most famous underwater inhabitants such as sharks, rays and turtles.

The Hurawalhi team places coral reef preservation very high on their agenda and to that end, the resort’s resident marine biologists are actively involved in not only protecting the coral, but managing projects to nurture them.

Coral Line Project

This project was set up in 2019 with coral fragments collected around 5.8 Undersea Restaurant. The fragments initially had an average size of 4.3cm and after 18 months, had reached an average size of 11.2cm.

Corals on the lines displayed a survival rate of 80 per cent, despite them not being cleaned or maintained during much of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The team has recently moved to the next exciting stage in the project – planting the corals!

After careful assessment of the reef, four of the seven coral lines were transplanted around 5.8. The coral lines were divided into several pieces and carefully placed in secure locations on the platform around 5.8, which was first cleaned of macro-algae.

The team now monitors the health and self-attachment rate of the corals to determine where they will place the remaining three coral lines.

The coral frame with the remaining three lines was also moved next to 5.8 and guests can see it from the second window when walking down to the restaurant.

Coral Tree Project

Last December saw the beginnings of a new coral nursery project in the form of a coral tree.

The team used PVC pipe to construct a tree-like structure, anchored at the bottom and held upright with a floatation device. The ‘tree’ holds 100 coral fragments.

The marine biologists collected broken off coral fragments from the reef surrounding Hurawalhi (these fragments are also known as ‘Corals of Opportunity’). The fragments, of an average size of 3.5cm, were tied to fishing line and attached to the arms of the tree.

While the majority of the corals on the coral line project were bushy Pocillopora spp, this new project focuses on more finely branching species such as Acropora spp as it was these that suffered the most damage during the last bleaching event in 2015/2016.

It is important to have a great variety of different growth forms to add to the structural complexity of the reef and, with Acropora being a fast-growing species of coral, the team hopes to transplant the fragments to the reef in time for Christmas 2021.

Officially inaugurated in January 2016, the five-star Hurawalhi resort is accessible by a 40-minute scenic seaplane flight from the main airport, and offers 90 villas, including 60 Ocean Villas and 30 Beach Villas, for grown-ups who are seeking luxury and innovation. 

The villas are stylishly and beautifully conceived featuring soothing décor, sumptuous linens on king size beds, bleached wooden floors, and private terraces with panoramic views.

There is an ocean of delights to take in at Hurawalhi: dining at 5.8 Undersea Restaurant, snuggling up with your darling under a blanket or sparkling stars on the iconic Dream Island sandbank, falling in love with the plethora of marine life.

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