Story and Photos by Jean-Luc Solandt
Reef Check Maldives is being run in collaboration with the UK-based Marine Conservation Society and world-renowned liveaboard operator Maldives Scuba Tours. Surveys are carried out twice a year at one of four permanent monitoring stations first assessed in 2005 in order to record damage from the December 2004 tsunami. The 12-day survey trips, of which at least two days are dedicated to Reef Check surveying, typically comprise 30 dives whilst visiting far flung isolated sites over the vast atoll nation.
This June, the surveys recorded live coral cover of 67% from one spectacular site ‘Dega Giri’, which appears to have totally recovered from the catastrophic mass-bleaching event of 1998. Other sites surveyed appear to be well on their way to recovery with over 35% coral cover for many shallow reefs in the region. Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson joined the team on the vessel before attending a regional conference on Marine Protected Areas, and was also impressed at the apparent good health of the reefs.
The next two dedicated Reef Check trips in 2009 will be from January 25 – February 6; and June 13 – 26. To register for the next trip, visit Maldives Scuba Tours or contact Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt, Maldives Reef Check coordinator.