IYOR2018 collage

Carpe Diem Maldives Introduces Coral Reef Awareness Campaign in Celebration of IYOR 2018

January 2018: Carpe Diem Maldives Pvt. Ltd. begins a 12-month social media campaign to celebrate International Year of Coral Reefs 2018.

Crystal clear waters teeming with colour and marine life surround The Maldives, making it one of the most appealing and diverse coral reef destinations in the world. The new digital campaign led by Carpe Diem Maldives promotes awareness towards the status of the destination’s coral reefs. Recreational and professional divers are invited to share their underwater images through Instagram and Facebook channels using hashtags #maldivesreefawareness #carpediemmaldives and #IYOR2018 stating information to three related Ds – dive, date and depth – on each image.

2018 was announced International Year of the Reef (IYOR – www.iyor2018.org) for the third time since 1997 by International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), an informal partnership between the Nations and organisations that strive to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world. IYOR is a global effort to increase awareness and understanding on the values and threats to coral reefs, as well as to support related conservation, research and management efforts.

IYOR2019_wbg

Francis Staub, International Coordinator for the Year of the Reef for ICRI states, “We welcome this initiative embracing modern media and recognising public awareness as an essential element of coral reef conservation. Campaigns such as this ensure that the general public understands the value of, and the threats to coral reefs. Furthermore, the ongoing stream of images through #maldivesreefawareness on social media channels provides marine scientists and other stakeholders around the world access to real time data on coral reefs in The Maldives.”

Regularly visited dive sites across the Maldivian atolls will be captured to show the real time reef status amidst the effects of global warming, while also recording the ongoing recovery and conservation efforts being carried out by organisations such as Coral Reef CPR. At the same time, the digital campaign encourages public engagement and general awareness to the importance of coral reefs globally.

Acting Managing Director of Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation, Haris Mohamed, says, “Recently awarded World’s Leading Dive Destination at the 24th annual World Travel Awards, the Maldives attracts divers from around the world to experience the beauty of our underwater marine life and reefs. This initiative by Carpe Diem Maldives highlights the conservation efforts various organisations are carrying out to ensure our reefs remain resilient and healthy for generations to come. We strongly encourage all divers to the Maldives to share their images on social media with the hashtag #maldivesreefawareness.”

Likewise, PADI Regional Manager for The Maldives, Matt Wenger, explains “Coral reefs are among the most beautiful ecosystems on the planet and PADI works with local communities around the world to ensure that residents understand the value of their local treasure. With close to 1.2 million tourist arrivals a year to The Maldives, initiatives like Carpe Diem’s #maldivesreefawareness are so important to get the message across about the beauty of the underwater world and why we need to do everything we can to protect it. We wholeheartedly encourage all divers to participate in this simple yet effective image sharing campaign.”

The digital campaign, which will run exclusively in The Maldives until December 31st, 2018, will be promoted to guests on Carpe Diem’s liveaboard dive cruises and at the upcoming resort in Raa Atoll. Carpe Diem Cruises welcome up to 60 divers weekly across all three of their luxury liveaboard cruises. Towards the end of 2018, campaign images posted throughout the year can be submitted to a panel of professional photographers, conservationists and IYOR officials, with a chance of winning a 4-night stay in 2019 at the new resort Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa.

IYOR2018CDC

Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa is a 40-minute seaplane ride from Malé International Airport, or a 20-minute flight to Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport in Baa Atoll combined with a 25-minute speedboat ride. Full-board room rates accommodating 2 adults and 2 children, or 3 adults, start from USD899 per villa, per night, and for solo travellers in a shared twin-bed Over Water Pool Villa from USD450. The resort is already accepting bookings for stays from 1st June 2018 onwards, for more information visit www.carpediemmaldives.com

—Ends—

Editor’s Note:

Established in 2008 Carpe Diem Maldives Pvt Ltd. showcases a collection of luxury liveaboard cruises and is currently expanding its operations in the Maldives with a new 115-room pool villa resort in the northern Raa Atoll, scheduled to open 1st June 2018. Carpe Diem is renowned for delivering a sense of discovery, adventure and always with expertise that enriches our guests knowledge and time with us. The Carpe Diem name has built significant brand recognition within the top echelons of the travel industry for diving & leisure, and the current portfolio includes 3 high end liveaboard cruises, each catering 20 guests at a time. With the expansion into resorts, Carpe Diem is one of the most unique and only hospitality brand in the Maldives to offer both liveaboard cruises and resort stays.

For more information on Carpe Diem Maldives Pvt. Ltd., please visit www.carpediemmaldives.com

Facebook:

Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa: https://www.facebook.com/CarpeDiemBeachResort

Carpe Diem Cruises: https://www.facebook.com/Carpediemcruisesmaldives

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carpediemmaldives

For more information on the International Year of the Reef 2018, visit www.iyor2018.org

For more information on the International Coral Reef Initiative, visit www.icriforum.org

 

For media enquiries, please contact

Liz Smailes

Head of Brand and Marketing Communications,

Email: liz@carpediemmaldives.com

620614_439535042759199_1051375731_o

Dive where the wild things are, go tech-free and enjoy the wellness benefits of a week in the Maldives with Carpe Diem Cruises

If you’ve been watching or hearing about the recent BBC Blue Planet 2 series, you’ll need little convincing that diving brings ultimate happiness. The variety and spectrum of colours in the wildlife beneath the water’s surfaces is both mesmerizing and incredible.

With zero connectivity and no smart phones to distract your focus, a dive beneath the surface into a tech-dead zone is full of natural inspiration. Simultaneously, it provides an abundance of wellness benefits. If you find yourself twitching as the inbox starts to fill, the phone rings or staring at a computer 12 hours a day, the doctor may well advise you to take a trip to the underwater world.

Agnes van Linden, Assistant Managing Director of Carpe Diem Maldives says, “You can dive the same site 5 times, and you’ll have 5 completely different experiences. One time you’ll spend 5 minutes with a turtle, the next an eagle ray cruises by, then a moray eel stretches out and opens its jaws with a beady-eyed look in your direction. The underwater world never fails to inspire and always delivers something magical.”

Turtle and diver with Carpe Diem MaldivesDiving whenever she get’s the chance: Agnes van Linden, Assistant Managing Director of Carpe Diem Maldives

In addition to the encounters with an underwater world we still have so much to discover and learn about, there are an abundance of wellness benefits that come with a week of diving.

  • Physical fitness and strength: Diving can help tone your different muscle areas, particularly the thighs and shoulders, consequently giving you better posture. Exerting little to no strain on our joints, diving also provides both a cardiovascular workout and a muscular workout as you move against the resistance of the current and the water itself. This strengthens the your muscles, develops your flexibility and raises your endurance levels, all without the aid of a fitness app!
  • Exhale: The soothing sight of bubbles rising, the tingling feeling of swimming through bubbles and the sound of the air tank in harmony with your slow breathing promote calmness and tranquillity. Deep breathing is important in scuba diving to optimize air consumption and increase your time underwater.
  • Zen time: If you’ve tried meditation, you’ll know breathing slowly and deeply while diving induces a relaxed state while the diver focuses on the underwater environment rather than thinking about work and daily challenges. It’s an instant stress reducing therapy that balances the nervous system.
  • Community: By sharing that common interest in the underwater world, on a dive liveaboard week you’ll naturally meet other like-minded people. Between dives and over shared meals, wonderful memories of your experience create a sense of community with newly formed friendships that share your excitement, and it’s not through social media!
  • Rays of light: When the average temperature is 87 degrees Fahrenheit, in The Maldives you can soak up the vitamin D at any time of the year. The sun’s rays promote the absorption of calcium in the body, which then provides strength to the bones and increases endorphin production in the brain, and in turn contributes to a healthy nervous system. As if you needed another reason to travel somewhere warm.
  • Soul enriching: When diving abroad, you are likely to meet adventurous and interesting people from all over the world. Travel is synonymous with education and most people on a dive week are eager to broaden and share their knowledge while experiencing new or familiar dive sites.

Join a regular dive week on Carpe Diem Cruises or upgrade your experience to dive where the wild things are on a marine expedition. Rescue a Reef: Crown of Thorns Starfish Removal with Coral Reef CPR, May 19 – May 26.

Carpe Diem Maldives, in partnership with Coral Reef CPR, has removed over 10,600 Crown of Thorns Starfish from reefs in the Maldives since 2015. On this “Rescue a Reef” expedition, divers take a hands-on role in eliminating the starfish from badly infested reefs. Assisting the Coral Reef CPR scientists in collecting valuable data on the behaviors of the starfish and their genetic make-up, this will help us understand why the outbreaks occur, where they originate from and what we can do to prevent a recurrence. All the while, divers enjoy the beauty of the Maldivian marine life and save thousands of hectares of coral reef.

Coral Reef CPR conducting surveys in the maldives

Priced from USD 1,863 per person for the week, the marine expeditions include:

  • 7 nights aboard Carpe Novo
  • 3 meals daily, plus between-dive snacks
  • 3 to 4 dives daily (except for on day of arrival and day before departure)
  • Use of tanks, weights and belts
  • Drinking water, tea and coffee
  • Airport transfers on the days of embarkation/disembarkation
  • Evening workshops on marine ecology, coral reef, marine life and more
  • On-board marine biologists
  • GST 12%

For bookings and further information email us at info@carpediemmaldives.com

Carpe Vita and Dhoni_Aerial_port

Learn to Dive on a Luxury Cruise with Carpe Diem Maldives

Travellers to The Maldives in 2018 can combine their PADI Open Water Diver certification with a week-long cruise onboard a luxury liveaboard.

The Maldives is continuously rated as one of the top diving destinations in the world by international dive publications and awards. Made up of 26 coral atolls and crossing the equator, roughly 1,200 islands are home to some of the most beautiful, thriving reefs of rare and common coral, attracting every kind of marine life.

With a destination that is surrounded 99% by water, Carpe Diem Maldives believes any traveller to the region should be in, on, or under the ocean to truly appreciate it’s beauty. Spending a week exploring different lagoons and reefs on board an award-winning luxury liveaboard cruise, complete novice scuba divers can now do this in style with Carpe Diem Maldives.

Turtle and diver with Carpe Diem Maldives

Introducing the scuba diving experience to all travellers, in 2018 Carpe Diem Maldives is offering beginner divers the ultimate dream holiday. For one week in July, a 7-day cruise on Carpe Vita will be dedicated to 20 adventurous travellers looking to obtain their PADI Open Water Diver certification. Starting in Male and ending in Baa Atoll, northern Maldives, guests will experience the beauty of coral reefs and a myriad of fish starting from just 3 metres beneath the surface.

Learn to Dive cruise weeks begin with shallow and calm lagoon dives. With the fundamentals of diving firmly mastered, 4 open water dives on beautiful coral bedecked reefs will complete the certification. By the end of the week, novice divers will be confidently enjoying the mesmerizing underwater world at 20 metres below the surface. Each of these special trips will also include a snorkelling visit to the region’s annual manta ray migration in Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, a UNESCO protected marine biosphere area.

Dive equipment on the Carpe Vita Dive Dhoni

Under the guidance of Carpe Diem’s expert Maldivian Dive Instructors, guests will learn the PADI Open Water theory in the briefing room on board Carpe Vita luxury cruise. Equipped with the latest dive gear, guests then step onto a dive dhoni for their first plunge into lagoon waters. With increased confidence and applied theory, divers return to the main cruise vessel after each dive to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the upper deck. Around a long table, mealtimes quickly become an enthusiastic exchange of underwater observations and shared experiences. Accommodation is on the boat, in twin bed and double cabins, each with private bathrooms, air conditioning, 24 hour electricity and wifi connection.

A Learn To Dive cruise on Carpe Vita will run July 1-8, 2018. Priced from USD 2,363 for the week, the package includes:

  • 7 nights on board Carpe Vita
  • 3 meals daily, plus between-dive snacks
  • PADI Open Water theory and practical training, as well as certification
  • 3 dives daily (except for on day of arrival and day before departure)
  • Use of tanks, weights and belts
  • Dive mask, fins, dive computer and buoyancy control device
  • Drinking water, tea and coffee

Not included in the package are one-way domestic or seaplane transfers from Baa Atoll to Male International airport. These can be arranged by Carpe Diem and guests can also combine their cruise with a resort stay in Raa Atoll at the new Carpe Diem Beach Resort and Spa, opening July 2018. For cruise guests staying at the resort, three complimentary dives are included in the full-board stay package, making it the perfect opportunity to practice those certified dive skills on a thriving house reef. Stays at the resort start at USD 450 per night for solo travellers in a shared twin-bed pool villa.

Carpe Diem Maldives Cruise and lagoon hammock

By the end of each PADI Open Water Learn to Dive week, guests will have a dive log that begins with enviable diving in The Maldives. Since 2008, the award-winning hospitality group Carpe Diem Maldives Pvt. Ltd. has been operating luxury dive and surf liveaboard cruises, sharing the beauty of the Maldivian waters with adventurous travellers. Carpe Diem is the only liveaboard operator in the Maldives to offer diving adventures with a team of all-Maldivian Dive Masters. With the expansion into resorts, Carpe Diem Maldives becomes the only hospitality brand in the country to offer year-round liveaboard cruises that can be combined with a resort stay.

Carpe Diem Dive on shallow reef

For more information and to reserve your Carpe Diem adventure email info@carpediemmaldives.com

Carpe Diem Maldives Announce Dive with a Purpose Marine Expeditions for 2018

 

Building on the success of three marine expeditions in 2017, in partnership with US based research organization Coral Reef CPR, Carpe Diem Maldives Cruises is excited to announce its 2018 Dive with a Purpose series of hands-on marine expeditions for leisure divers.

Taking a concerted approach towards protecting and restoring the health of coral reefs and marine life in the Maldives, three “Rescue a Reef” weeks with experts from Coral Reef CPR will look at addressing issues around reef predators, damage prevention and restoration. These expeditions are an extension of Carpe Diem’s support of the organisation’s HARP programme – Holistic Approach To Reef Protection. A fourth week has been added to the 2018 Dive with a Purpose programme in partnership with Maldives Whale Shark Research.

On each Dive with A Purpose week, up to 20 recreational divers can join the marine expeditions; divers must have an Advanced PADI qualification, excellent buoyancy control and ideally a minimum of 70 dives. Priced from USD 1,863 per person for the week, the expeditions include:

  • 7 nights aboard the assigned Carpe Diem Maldives vessel
  • 3 meals daily, plus between-dive snacks
  • 3 to 4 dives daily (except for on day of arrival and day before departure)
  • Use of tanks, weights and belts
  • Drinking water, tea and coffee
  • Airport transfers on the days of embarkation/disembarkation
  • Evening workshops on marine ecology, coral reef, marine life and more
  • On-board marine biologists
  • GST 12%

Rescue a Reef: Crown of Thorns Starfish Removal with Coral Reef CPR

Expedition dates: May 19 May 26 / July 15 July 22 / Sept 8 Sept 15

Coral Reef CPR removing COTS in Maldives

Coral Reef CPR, in partnership with Carpe Diem Maldives, has removed over 10,600 starfish from reefs in the Maldives since 2015. In the 2018 “Rescue a Reef” expeditions, divers on the trips can expect a hands-on role in eliminating the starfish from badly infested reefs. Divers on board these expeditions will assist the Coral Reef CPR scientists in collecting valuable data on the behaviors of the starfish and their genetic make-up. This will help us understand why the outbreaks occur, where they originate from and what we can do to prevent a recurrence.

In addition to the COTS removal from reefs, we will also visit a number of unique reef environments, including submerged farus and giris to explore the invertebrate life as and also collect valuable data on the diverse and colorful reef fish communities and larger megafauna such as sharks, manta rays and turtles. During these dives and COTS removal dives, we will conduct quantitative transects to measure the health of the reefs and patterns of recovery following the 2016 bleaching event.

Working in buddy teams to remove the COTS from the reef, divers will be assisting Coral Reef CPR scientists in all aspects of research, including reef assessment surveys, collection of samples, and removal of crown of thorns starfish, cushion stars and coral eating snails. Across each of the one-week trips, divers will be trained in reef conservation methods and survey approaches, and learn about coral reefs and the vibrant and diverse life found on reefs through nightly workshops and discussions. Joining these “Rescue a Reef” expeditions will provide divers with an opportunity to be part of a team who are saving thousands of hectares of reef and preventing the potential for future outbreaks.

The Great Megafauna Migration: Track whale sharks, mantas and turtles across the Maldives. Expedition dates: May 26 June 2

MWSRP_Research in action

There is a growing school of thought that the Maldivian ‘big three’; whale sharks, manta rays and turtles react to the changes in the monsoon seasons by moving to sites on the leeward side of the atolls. In May 2018, Carpe Novo will become a research platform for biologists from the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme providing them and 20 lucky guests an unprecedented opportunity to explore this phenomenon.  The goal of this particular Dive with a Purpose expedition is to begin the 2018 southwest season’s data collection, documenting the movements of these iconic yet enigmatic animals.

There are two monsoons in the Maldives, ‘Iruvai’ as the Maldivians call the northeast monsoon between December and April and ‘hulhagu’, the southwest monsoon from May to November. How quickly these megafauna species transition from sites on the west coasts to sites on the east coast and vice versa is not defined and probably depends on currents and surface weather conditions.

The MWSRP will be setting out on Carpe Novo with the aim of seeking whale sharks, as well as manta rays and sea turtles at differing points amongst the central atolls. Whale sharks, manta rays and turtles will be photo identified, with individuals compared to previous sightings in national level databases to identify movements between locations, both within and between atolls. Equipment will be deployed to gather data on current and surface weather conditions in the hope of gleaning information on how quickly the 2018 season has changed and how the megafauna has reacted to it.

Special attention will be paid to whale sharks which have moved from other atolls, where a fledgling understanding of seasonal cyclic movements can be reinforced by any sightings of 29 individual whale sharks known to be regular inter-atoll travellers.

In areas where whale sharks are prevalent, the MWSRP will explore oceanic conditions in the isolated parts of the atolls where whale sharks are not expected to be sighted through the deployment of temperature and current reading loggers and compare that to data collected in areas where whale sharks would be expected to be seen.

Guests joining this expedition will be offered the opportunity to assist the researchers in the hands on equipment deployment and every data gathering aspect of their work and will be afforded nightly workshops, lectures and discussions on marine life and the leading edge findings from Maldives-specific research on these species.

Divers with an avid marine conservation interest should not miss out on this unique opportunity to work alongside expert marine biologists in the 2018 series of Dive with a Purpose expeditions from Carpe Diem Maldives. For bookings and further information email info@carpediemmaldives.com

Cusion starfish_red

Carpe Diem Maldives initiates “Rescue a Reef” program October 22/29,2017

Carpe Diem Maldives Pvt. Ltd. confirms its ongoing collaboration with American organisation Coral Reef CPR with the launch of its official CSR program “Rescue a Reef”.  Taking a concerted approach towards protecting and restoring the health of coral reefs and marine life in the Maldives, “Rescue a Reef” invites guests to join marine expeditions on Carpe Diem’s liveaboard adventure cruises and encourages guest donations to support Coral Reef CPR’s work.Amir Mansoor

 

In establishing the Rescue a Reef initiative, Carpe Diem Maldives confirms its continued support for Coral Reef CPR’s work, which began with research assistance in 2016. Managing Director for Carpe Diem Maldives, Amir Mansoor, says, “In our collaboration over the last 18 months, I’ve experienced first-hand how the marine biologists from Coral Reef CPR identify early on when nature is out of balance, investigate to find out the cause using their expertise and laboratory tests, and then implement scientific methods to help restore that balance, making it more robust for future events. Their methodology and scientific knowledge are among several reasons why Carpe Diem Maldives enjoys a productive collaboration with Coral Reef CPR, and we whole-heartedly support their HARP program – Holistic Approach To Reef Protection.”

 

Cusion starfish_redTo officially launch the Rescue a Reef initiative, Carpe Diem Maldives Pvt Ltd. will host its third marine expedition with Coral Reef CPR’s returning marine biologists Dr Andrew Bruckner and Georgia Coward in October 2017. The week-long expedition will target the house reef and surrounding areas of the company’s current resort development in Raa Atoll. “During our surveys of Raa and Baa Atoll we’ve seen an abnormally high number of cushion starfish. This is a concern, because these animals target juvenile cauliflower (Pocillopora) and staghorn (Acropora) corals, and these are the corals that are critical for a speedy recovery from last years bleaching event,“ explains Dr Andrew Bruckner, Chief Scientist from Coral Reef CPR.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

From 22-29 October 2017 up to 20 recreational divers can join Chief Scientist Dr Andrew Bruckner and his team of researchers as they conduct a Cushion Starfish removal from reefs in Raa Atoll, carry out quantitative reef surveys, and data analysis while enjoying Carpe Diem’s hospitality on board Carpe Vita liveaboard cruise.

 

Dr Andrew BruckerSpeaking on the expanding partnership, Dr Bruckner says, “We’re thrilled at this long term commitment from Carpe Diem Maldives. It is always wonderful when a company responsibly embraces a pro-active approach to environmental protection and conservation. Engaging with their guest divers over the last year is inspiring for us as we believe that education is at the forefront of successful coral reef conservation. Raising awareness on the critical importance of reefs and tangible actions that can be taken to ensure that these ecosystems continue to support the abundance of marine life and provide benefits to humans, is key to the future of the Maldives.”

The first dedicated crown of thorns starfish removal in May 2017 involved seventeen recreational divers from nine countries. The divers worked with Carpe Diem and Coral Reef CPR to collect a total of 900 COTS from 15 reefs on North Malé and South Malé Atolls over a one-week period. A second expedition is already planned and fully booked for September 2017. With an increasing number of inquiries for alternative dates, the demand for such marine expeditions is showing encouraging signs.

 

To join the October marine expedition and launch of Carpe Diem Maldives “Rescue a Reef” CSR programme, divers must have an Advanced PADI qualification, excellent buoyancy control and ideally a minimum of 70 dives. Priced from just USD 700 per person for the week, the trip from 22-29 October includes:

 

  • 7 nights aboard Carpe Vita vessel
  • 3 meals daily, plus between-dive snacks
  • Up to 4 dives daily (except for on day of arrival and day before departure) including one or two night dives
  • Use of tanks, weights and belts
  • Complimentary coffee, tea and drinking water
  • Airport transfers on the days of embarkation/disembarkation
  • Evening workshops on marine ecology, coral reef importance, marine life and more
  • On-board marine biologists
  • GST 12%

 

Divers with an avid marine conservation interest should not miss out on this unique opportunity to work alongside expert marine biologists. To support the work of Coral Reef CPR, an additional contribution of USD 150 p/p will be added to the final bill, payable before or at the end of the trip. For bookings and further information please mail to info@carpediemmaldives.com.

 

 

 

cushionstarfishremoval1 cushionstarfishremoval
Cushion starfish upside down Cushion Starfish next to acropora coral

 

 

AmirIsland4

Coral status Maldives

Based on our recent surveys this year, here is a short summary on our findings of the status of the corals in the Maldives.
 – First, all shallow snorkel depths from water surface to about 3 m was hardest hit by bleaching with a near total loss of table corals. We have found a few reefs on outside of atolls and in high water flow areas where table corals did survive. These areas are the most critical for recovery of the species. That said, it will likely take a min of five years before we start seeing a lot of table corals again and 10-15 years before they are a meter or more in size
– Throughout the country the massive Boulder corals ( Porites) mostly survived and these are now the dominant species on the reefs. These are very important in forming the framework of the reef and they also form the areas used by larger species as cleaning stations
– On many reefs where there were formally many branching corals what you see now are small Boulder corals mixed among dead coral skeletons. We are very fortunate that we didn’t lose these corals as they could take decades to centuries to recover
– Throughout lagoonal environments that once had large stands of staghorn coral, these are mostly dead. Again we have found patches of these corals on every atoll we have visited. These small patches will rapidly expand in size and within 5 years they should form thickets once again
– One of the most positive signs is the high numbers of juvenile corals that are approximately one year old. We find the highest number of these on reef slopes, especially in lagoonal areas. These are dominated by branching corals that were formally very abundant on all reefs. These look like they were babies of corals that spawned last year right before the bleaching event . This is a really positive sign as this means they were able to tolerate higher water temperature and are likely to survive during periods of future high water temperatures. Right now these are smaller than a baseball but will double in size within a year and within two to three years will be old enough to begin reproducing
– There are also a number of reefs where most corals survived the high temperatures last year and these are the ones that are most critical right now as they will produce new corals during annual spawning events that will start to recolonize other reefs
– It is important to note that coral grows very slowly and you can’t expect to see reefs that looked as they did over a year ago already. What is most positve is that these reefs are showing very positive signs of recovery unlike many other reefs in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

 

Are the Maldives under threat of another bleaching event?

 

Currently, it is unlikely that we will experience a bleaching event in the Maldives again. Although water temperatures have increased slightly during March, they are still well below that observed last year.  Last year, due to the El nino, the thermocline disappeared, and warm water (30 C during the entire month of March and 31-35 C during April) extended to 30-40 m depth.  The sea remained calm for over eight weeks, no rainfall, no wind, and blue skies (with only a short break due to a storm only lasting two days on April 22-23).
This year, we’ve had rainfall during March, periods of choppy seas, more cloud cover and only short periods of doldrum-like conditions.  During calm periods, the surface water is warming to 30-32 C, but there is a pronounced drop in temperature at depths of 1-2 m and reef temperatures are 27-28 C ( a few places are 29 C). Due to tidal flow, the warm surface layer in lagoonal areas disappears during the evening and surface water is cool in the morning.
The traditional Maldivian calendar predicts that we are entering Reyva (26 MarApr 7), which may be associated with storms at night and winds from the northwest.  This is followed by Assidha (8-21 Apr), which will begin with a storm, then becoming hot and dry, with mild winds.  At this time the water may heat up somewhat but this is followed by Burunu (22 Apr-5 May) which also begins with a storm and is characterized by rough seas which should moderate water temperatures.
 Attached is one image from NOAA showing the current bleaching predictions for the eastern Hemisphere.  For locations with abnormal temperatures, they are identified as a watch (1 degree C higher than normal for one week) , warning (1 degrees higher or more for 1-4 weeks = possible bleaching), alert level 1 (1 degrees higher or more for 4-8 weeks; bleaching is likely) and alert level 2 (abnormal temperature for more than 8 weeks; coral mortality is likely).  This is updated two times per week.   As of this past Monday, there was no temperature stress around the Maldives.
This is summarized using the best available knowledge and predictions we have access to.  Corals may become pale in some locations, but the corals on these reefs now are those that survived much worse conditions last year, so it is unlikely that they will die.


Andrew Bruckner, PhD.
Director
Coral Reef Conservation Protection and Restoration

bleaching alert March 20 2017
Whalesharkwithhook

Another whale shark rescued in the Maldives

On the night of the 3rd of November the Carpe Vita liveaboard was anchored at a place in Thaa atoll where often whale sharks come and feed at the back of the boat on plankton attracted by the bright lights.  Whale shark “Kessum”, logged in the database of the whale shark research team under WS113 appeared at the back of the boat with a huge fishing hook and piece of rope attached to it stuck in the side of his mouth. Kessum was last seen in Thaa atoll as well in April 2016.  In this amazing footage you see a guest cutting the rope of the hook in two attempts followed by one of our dive team members pulling the hook out at the third attempt after two failed attempts.

 

The size of the hook is usually not used in the Maldives leaving us to believe that it was most probably used by a foreign fishing boat. Question is of course if they are fishing illegally in Maldives waters where the whale sharks are protected or that Kessum got in trouble somewhere else.  Whale sharks are known to travel quite some distance.

This is not the first time our team members were able to rescue an animal in need of fishing hooks or other trash left behind. See also our other stories under Maldives conservation and protection.

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coral bleaching Maldives 2016

Andy Bruckner, Coral Reef CPR Director

Globally, 2016 is the warmest year on record, exceeding 2015- the second warmest. These steamy temperatures can be attributed in part to climate change and to the longest El Niño in history. The Maldives were no exception. During April/May 2016 the sea water temperatures heated up to 31-33 C; simultaneously the sea was unusually calm, currents were absent and there was no cloud cover. Together these conditions created intolerable conditions for the corals, which turned stark white through a process known as bleaching. In many locations, the faster growing branching and table corals subsequently died, and shallow reefs are now a graveyard of skeletons carpeted in turf algae.

However, the Maldives was lucky and not all their corals died, and some reefs escaped the perilous conditions. Unlike the Great Barrier Reef in Australia where the high temperatures caused the most devastating bleaching and coral death ever documented, the Maldives fared much better. The massive boulder corals bleached, but most recovered. On the reef slopes where there was less penetration of harmful ultraviolet radiation, the branching, table, plating and foliaceous corals survived much better. You will find some dead corals, but you also find many that are still living, and the corals have started to regain their coloration. What was most unexpected was the high survival of small corals- the babies that settled last year and juveniles that are about the size of a baseball all survived. Further, some corals appear to be adapting to the warmer waters – they didn’t bleach at all, and these are likely to spawn during the annual reproductive period next March/April, providing lots of babies that can reseed damaged areas. We also found reefs where there was virtually no coral death – locations on Ari Atoll, and Baa Atoll in particular still have thriving coral communities.

All of these signs point towards coral reefs that are highly resilient and already quickly rebounding. Fortunately, the corals that did die are those that grow the fastest, produce lots of larvae, and exhibit very high settlement. Unlike the devastating coral bleaching event in 1998, research done by Coral Reef CPR suggests that most Maldivian reefs will rebound and look much like they did prior to the bleaching event within five years.
The Coral Reef CPR team were all ocean lovers before becoming coral reef scientists. As a result, we always appreciate our surroundings whilst conducting scientific surveys. Partnering with Carpe Diem Fleet Maldives has provided us with a unique opportunity to assess the health, state and recovery of coral reefs throughout the Maldives- often for the first time! Visiting nine atolls and diving over 40 different reefs gave us a great chance to understand these reefs, and the impact of the global coral bleaching event this year.
Despite this bleaching event, the Maldives still promises some of the most incredible and diverse diving on offer! The country still supports huge populations of endangered and rare animals, including whale sharks and manta rays, incredibly healthy turtle populations with up to a dozen on certain dives and a rebounding shark population which includes grey reef, tiger, black tip and white tip reef sharks. Our dives were always different. Reef fish populations are incredibly healthy throughout the atolls, with shoals of 1000+ being a common feature of many reefs.
We recommend diving in the Maldives if you want unique animals, diverse reefs and beautiful scenery.

Coral Bleaching

cots-on-bleached-porites

A coral’s enemy: Crown of Thorns starfish (COTS)

What is the crown of thorns starfish?

The crown of thorns starfish (COTS) is the most voracious coral predator found on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. One starfish will eat a coral every day and can consume all of the corals within a 6-10 square meter area within a year.  They are responsible for destroying entire reefs during severe outbreaks. When COTS undergo population explosions, there may be ten COTS per square meter or more, with tens of thousands of animals invading a single reef. They tend to aggregate, piling on top of table corals and wrapping their bodies around delicate branching corals.  Their path of destruction often resembles a forest fire: they spread through a reef devouring the corals as they move and leaving only a few less preferred corals in their wake.

 

Outbreaks in the Maldives

Coral Reef CPR first began working in the Maldives in 2015 to tackle unnaturally high densities of COTS. This is the third reported outbreak in the Maldives. The first occurred in the 1970s, the second in the early 1990s was slightly larger and more widespread, while the current outbreak is the largest ever witnessed. It began in 2013 in North Malé Atoll; by October, 2015 large numbers of COTS were seen throughout Ari Atoll, two locations on Baa Atoll, one on Lhaviyani Atoll and four locations on South Malé Atoll. Localized but large densities were noted for the first time in 2016 on Shaviyani Atoll.

 diveteamcots

Why do outbreaks occur?

Excess nutrients: COTS larvae feed on plankton and normal survival rates are very low. When nutrients from sewage, fertilizer and run-off enter the usually nutrient-poor tropical waters, there plankton blooms providing these larvae with more food and their survival rates increase.

 

Overfishing of predators: Removing the few predators (Napoleon wrasse, pufferfish, triggerfish, trumpet triton) for the food and souvenir trades reduces predation pressure on the COTS, allowing their numbers to increase.

Life-history and biology: COTS are extremely resilient organisms, with a very rapid and successful life-history. They can regenerate their arms and oral discs within 5-6 months; they are highly fecund and one individual can produce up to 60 million eggs per breeding season (once a year); they can last 6-9 months with no food; they can live and move through very deep water (including between atolls!); their bodies are covered in poisonous spines making them less attractive to the few predators.

 What can be done?

Efforts have been undertaken in the Maldives to remove COTS from the reefs and also inject them with chemicals. This can be very successful, but it requires involvement by dive operators, recreational divers, scientists and resort staff and other volunteers. An effected reef requires an initial clean-up, along with follow up collection efforts to remove any missed starfish. Physical removal is very simple and low cost, our team uses a pvc pipe and mecotscollectingsh bag to collect starfish, sending full bags to the surface with an SMB to avoid injury. If injection methods are used, they must be conducted correctly otherwise the starfish can shed the injected limb, re-growing it rapidly. It is also vital that non-toxic substances are used when injecting so collateral damage to the reef is avoided. The only known effective and non-toxic substances are bile salts and vinegar.

Coral Reef CPR has partnered with Carpe Diem Maldives Pvt. Ltd. to detect outbreaks of COTS throughout the Maldives and remove them from affected reefs.

Dive teams of each of the 3 boats have been provided with the education, tools and mesh bags to remove them and will start removing them whenever possible during regular dives and register the information.

During the 10 night trip on the Vita in August 2016, Coral Reef CPR together with the dive team of the Carpe Vita  removed 242 COTs from different sites.

 

Check back frequently on the Carpe Diem website (https://carpediemmaldives.com/blog/) for the total numbers of COTS we have removed!

 

coralreefCPRcotsCoralreefCPRtrainingVitacoralreefCPRcots2CoralreefCPRNovo

Coral Reef CPR

Coral Reef CPR joining Carpe Vita Nov. 10/20

Marine biologist from Coral Reef CPR joining again on Carpe Vita November 10/20

Andy Bruckner, Coral Reef CPR Director

The Maldives is known for its megafauna, with annual arrivals of mantas and whale sharks, frequent sitings of pilot, humpback and even blue whales, dolphins, recovering shark populations and an abundance of hawksbill turtles.  The Maldives has over 1190 islands in 26 atolls, and also support more coral reef habitat than anywhere else in the Indian Ocean. In fact, the Maldives has more coral reef than the entire Caribbean Sea and about 3.5% of all shallow water coral reefs found worldwide.  The reef structures are unique and diverse ranging from outer, exposed fore reef communities, steeply sloping walls, and lagoonal reefs (circular faru’s and seamounts known as a thila) influenced by tidal currents, to swift flowing, deep clefts (c20160415-P7260002hannel reefs known locally as a kandu) in the rim of the atoll.  They also support more than 220 species of corals, 1,200 reef fish and thousands of other invertebrates.  Yet for more of these reefs, especially those around the more remote northern atolls, we know very little about their structure, composition or health, or the challenges and opportunities they present.

We do know that coral reefs in the Maldives and also elsewhere on the planet are under severe threat as a result of unusual warmer than normal conditions due to the combined impacts of climate change and the worst El Niño event recorded in history.  Other Pacific and Indian Ocean-wide threats, such as the recent population explosion of the voracious crown of thorns starfish (COTS) place these reefs under further risk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coral reef scientists are also aware that the reefs of the Maldives may be doing better than many other locations.  The wide expanses (more than 90,000 square kilometers!) of clean, open ocean water flushes these reefs during the winter and summer monsoons, cooling the reef and bathing it in a nutrient rich plankton soup.  Further, with exception of the densely populated, highly urbanized city of Malé, there are very few people in the Maldives, and very little direct human pressures on the reefs. Fortunately for the coral reefs.

While guests will be enjoying the normal 4 dives a day offered by the Carpe Vita on this part Northern itinerary, we will thoroughly characterize the coral and fish communities, and their health as we did on our previous trip with the Carpe Vita in August 2016. These surveys will allow us to determine how severe the 2016 coral bleaching event was throughout the Maldives , by combining these data with information from our other sites in Central Maldives and our previous visit.  We will also gather valuable information on the spread of the COTS and impacts of these starfish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

COTS first appeared on the west side of North Malé Atoll in 2013, and in 2015 they begin to spread, invading South Malé atoll and Ari Atoll.  Recently, they’ve been spotted on Lhaviyani and Shaviyani Atolls.  Yet, little is known about their abundance, or effects on these reefs.   Whenever we spot a starfish, we’ll collect it to gather additional scientific information on its genetics and also to prevent it from causing more damage on the reef.  In 2015, in about a week, a team of four scientists removed over 7,500 starfish from two reef systems in North Malé Atoll and one in South Malé Atoll, saving these reefs from demise.  We plan to undertake the same effort during this excursion if we identify outbreaks of the starfish, saving the corals while preventing further expansion of the starfish and future outbreaks.

We are extremely excited to partner with Carpe Diem Maldives Fleet and looking forward to working alongside their team to research these reefs and preserve their health! We will be running regular educational seminars during the trip and be available for all questions, no matter the time of day!

For more information on the work of Coral Reef CPR please visit our website (www.coralreefcpr.org) and if you want to make a difference, why not donate now to help coral reefs of the Maldives (www.coralreefcpr.org/donate-now.html)!