Watch our promo video here, created for the COP18 in Qatar in 2012.
Reefscapers is an endeavour to combine our experience in coastal protection and marine ecology through coral propagation, using coral frames, made of welded and coated iron bars. Targeted primarily at resorts in the Maldives to improve the aesthetics around guest amenities or to create snorkelling reefs close to the shore, the method’s field of application is promised to widen in the future and represent a credible proactive adaptation to the present climate scenario.
Following our initial successes, Reefscapers coral propagation projects now rank as some of the most successful in the world. To date, we have transplanted more than 3000 coral frames (covering 2 hectares) using over 40 species of corals. The ecological benefits derived from the implementation of these new reefs are patent. Acting as refuge areas for animal post-larvae and source of spawn for the coral species propagated, they contribute to the overall diversity and increase the productivity of a reef flat. In addition, Reefscapers is committed to the local communities and maintains island based jobs, the most viable alternative to fishing or city lights.
Visit Our Partners in Reefscaping to check how your coral frame is growing.
Reefscapers ist unser kreatives, innovatives und außergewöhnliches Korallenvermehrungsgsprojekt! Unsere Erfahrungen in Küstenschutz und Meeresökologie brachten uns auf eine einfache und herausragende Idee: Wo die Korallenbleiche zugeschlagen hat, dienen verschweißte und ummantelte Eisengitter unseren Korallen als Lebensgrundlage. Auf ihnen wachsen sie zu einem neuen, lebendigen Riff heran!
Urprüngliche Zielgruppe waren in erster Linie maledivische Hotelinseln: Für sie gestalteten wir ufernahe Schnorchelriffe als Attraktion für die Urlaubsgäste. Schnell jedoch entpuppte sich ein weiteres Anwendungsfeld als vielversprechend: Unsere Korallengitter wurden zu einer offensiven Anpassung an das gegenwärtige Klimaszenario. Von unseren ersten Erfolgen ermuntert zählen Reefscapers’ Korallenprojekte inzwischen zu den erfolgreichsten der Welt. Derzeit haben wir mehr als 3000 Korallenrahmen implementiert. Sie decken 2 Hektar Fläche ab (=20.000 qm) und beherbergen über 40 Korallenspezies!
Der ökologische Gewinn ist immens: Die neuen Riffe dienen als Rückzugsort und Schutzraum für Tiere und Meeresbewohner im Postlarvenstadium. Außerdem sind unsere Korallen eine wichtige Laichquelle der jeweiligen Korallenspezies. Sie tragen zur Artenvielfalt bei und erhöhen die Produktivität der Flachriffe.
Zusätzlich engagieren wir uns in maledivischen Inselgemeinden: Wir schaffen Arbeitsplätze und bieten damit eine attraktive Existenzgrundlage – als Alternative zum Fischen und der dicht bevölkerten Stadt Malé.
Coral colonies are made of hundreds of polyps, an invertebrate animal, living in symbiosis with a microscopic algae living in its tissues.
The polyp is host to the algae, which in return photosynthesises the food for the polyp. The polyp grows a calcium carbonate skeleton in order to expand the colony and accommodate new polyps. Like this, they have been thriving under the sun in the warm waters all around earth relying solely on their understanding. Under heat stress, the algae dies inside the polyps’ tissues causing the polyps to expel the algae, depriving themselves of their food source. The polyp is in fact transparent, and the algae gives it colouration. After the algae has left, the immaculate whiteness of the skeleton is left as if bleached. The polyps are thereafter getting weaker and may not survive if the water temperature stays high.
In 1998 we witnessed the devastating effect of an usual sea surface temperature increase, with 90% of coral mortality down to 15m, and similar events more recently in 2010. However well we control the carbon emissions, the warming forecast due to the inertia of the system alone is alarming. Scientists predict the demise of coral reefs by 2050, which leaves us very little time.
In a country which owes its very existence to reef building corals, their death will directly affect the livelihood of the population. The whole setting in which the Maldivians evolve will be changed. The most dramatic consequence of them all would be the disappearance of the island themselves. Dead corals will indeed not grow upwards and keep up with rising sea levels.
Of course, there will be technical solutions to this problem, and some of them are already being implemented at large scale. Humans may finally be safe, constrained to a number of heavily fortified islands, but this has a cost far greater than that of the infrastructure!
Even though some local impacts are affecting the reef and could be better managed, the forecast temperature rise is equivalent to an ecological tsunami for the Maldivian coral reef ecosystem. The required rate of evolution for certain species may be faster than what is possible. As proof, the off springs of the 1998 survivors died in 2010. A demise of the corals will cause the disappearance of the many species depend on corals for their very existence.
Development is a fatality we have to face. Humans have heavily modified the surface of the earth to sustain an ever growing population. We engineer our terrestrial environment, but often pay a lot less attention to the marine aspect, especially in terms of ecology.
Mitigation or compensation can be achieved if only we could reprioritise the investments. In areas, Reefscapers installed thriving reefs in areas excavated for beach replenishment. In what was left as a grave yard we have created a thriving reef in a few years, with lots of fishes, a lot of them juveniles. Better still, these reefs are not fished at all and act as small scale marine protected areas. Through a greater mastery of the transplantation and increased understanding of the ecological processes, we will learn ways to engineer the marine environment in order to make it more diverse, more productive, help with aesthetics, recreational aspects and even coastal protection.
Corals are the major building blocks of this ecosystem, yet we know very little about how to manipulate them. Only a few years back, coral propagation was criticized as ineffective, causing more death than growth, but the success of the Reefscapers, among others, is turning the tables. On the land, we have very much learnt to manipulate trees, select them in order to get them adapted to different environments. It is time we take a similar direction for corals, learn more about their in situ characteristics, select them for their resistance and propagate them efficiently.
Watch our promo video here, created for the COP18 in Qatar in 2012.
BBC World News is repeating the Simon Reeve series ‘Indian Ocean’, and this week will be showing the episode ‘Oman to Maldives’.
Filmed in September 2011, it’s a very interesting insight into the Maldives – from 5-star resorts to the problems of garbage disposal, and the program features our very own Marie Saleem as Simon’s local guide.
Join Simon as he travels around Baa Atoll on our NOAH safari boat – with a stopoff at the local island of Fulhadhoo to try his hand at welding coral frames. There’s also a visit to our research station at Innafushi where Simon sees the effects of coral bleaching first hand.
At Four Seasons Resort Maldives Landaa Giraavaru, Simon helps attaching coral fragments to his very own coral frame, and then has the opportunity to transplant it into the lagoon. You can see how his specific frame is growing over at our sister site Marine Savers – select LG1143 at Landaa Giraavaru.
There is also a visit to the Maldivian garbage island of Thilafushi, where Marie very nicely sums up the surprisingly horrible situation –
Check out the following links for more information.
Watch a short segment from the show (thanks to the BBC) as Simon travels on NOAH
We are happy to announce the launch of our sister website – MarineSavers.com – to represent our important work at Four Seasons Resorts Maldives.
Our reefscaping and coral propagation projects rely on long-term partnerships in the tourism industry for continued development & success.
Fortunately, the importance of coral reefs is well-understood in the tourism sector, and more resorts are in support of our action towards the environment. The resorts in which our Reefscapers programme is run offer their guests the possibility of sponsoring their own structure to be grown in the lagoon. The marine biologists on site carry out the transplantation, monitoring and maintenance of the sponsored frames on the online database.
The birthplace of the coral frame! Following the 2004 Asian Tsunami, the Four Seasons dive team salvaged thousands of coral colonies, helping in our very first successful attempt to use coral frames.
The Sunrise side in Kuda Huraa is one of the finest reefscapes.
This dredged channel is now flourishing with corals, and hosts a vibrant fish life.
Cocoa Island by COMO
Launched by Cocoa Island in September 2013, we aim to develop the coral around the resort and create awareness about the vulnerability of reefs.
Reethi Beach Resort
This reef was heavily impacted during the warm 2010 event, and our small scale work validates the method at another location.
When entering the sponsorship program, we will make and transplant your frame, email you its unique reference number and upload photos of it onto this site every six months for you to monitor its progress. You can also dedicate it to the person of your choice. At present, you can choose to locate your frame at one of the proposed resorts – we hope you can come and see it in person at some stage!
If you want to make a very substantial contribution, you can choose to sponsor a patch reef of a given size and we can form virtually any shape, conditional to environmental constraints.
If you want to support our coral frame and reef propagation projects, you may do so using the standard Paypal system with the form featured below. Choose your desired size of frame, and then select an island from the dropdown list. As an option, you may also write your name or a short dedication, which will be featured on your frame’s ID tag.
Once you have made your selection, clicking the ‘Add to Cart’ button will transfer you to the familiar Paypal site, where you can review your details before making payment. You will be prompted to login to your Paypal account, or you can elect to pay with credit card.
Our online coral frame sponsorship is currently unavailable.
Apologies for any inconvenience.
Moving Reefscapers coral frames – Seamarc director Thomas le Berre at Kuda Huraa, Maldives. (c) George Steinmetz