A very exciting month for Reefscapers at The Sheraton Maldives
November 2021 was a big month for our team at the Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa. Ten coral frames were built: 8 small, 1 heart-shaped and 1 medium, totaling 438 fragments!
As you might have noticed (from our social media & website), some of our coral colonies at the Sheraton spawned around the November full moon. Our Reefscapers teams at the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru also witnessed spawning.
We observed three species of Acropora spawn at the Sheraton: A. secale, A. squarrosa and another species believed to be A. plantaginea. These colonies are located on coral pyramids, which are a larger version of our traditional coral frames. These colonies were relocated from Gulhi Falhu in February 2020, and we are delighted they are healthy and thriving.
Our team witnessed spawning over two evenings, with one colony of A. secale spawning on full moon (19 November 2021) which was also a partial lunar eclipse, and the remainder on 20 November.
Mass Coral Spawning Event at the Sheraton Maldives in November 2021 [photo by Amélie Carraut]
The coral spawning wasn’t the only thing keeping our Sheraton team busy! The Reefscapers team based at the Sheraton has launched a Dolphin monitoring project, using Darwin 2.22 software to identify individual dolphins spotted on the sunset dolphin cruise!
Certain species of dolphin can be identified from their unique dorsal fins. So far, our team has identified 38 dolphins, with two individuals being spotted twice. We are excited to grow this project and continue collecting data on the local dolphin populations.
Reef Manta Ray
With the end of November, we also see the end of the manta ray season. The manta season in the North Malé Atoll runs from May – November, and this year the mantas stuck around right until the end. However, in the first few days of December, the manta rays have not been sighted at the local cleaning station, and so that is the end of the 2021 manta season for the Sheraton. We look forward to welcoming them back next year!
A reef manta ray at the Lankan Manta Point Dive Site, November 2021 [photo by Kate Sheridan]
One ray we are still seeing around a lot is a porcupine ray, often spotted around the Sheraton. One particular individual has a broken spine and so is easily recognised and often spotted in front of the Dive Centre near some of our coral pyramids. Earlier in November, our team was treated to a delightful encounter while conducting pyramid maintenance, and the porcupine ray swam around the pyramids and began feeding in the sand.
Spotted eagle rays are also frequently seen in this area. A group of 6/7 juveniles are often sighted around the island, and frequently visit our frames and pyramids. An ornate eagle ray was also spotted at the Sheraton this month, by the resort lifeguard. Our team were disappointed to miss it, but it’s exciting to know an ornate eagle ray passed by as they are endangered and very rare to see in the Maldives.
A local porcupine ray in front our coral frames [photo by Kate Sheridan]