It has been a very interesting couple of days with excellent survey work by the team, coupled with interesting lectures from Hussein Zahir and Ibrahim Shameel, from La Mer, and The Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme respectively. Unfortunately the condition of some of the reefs we have surveyed show significant loss of coral cover due to the 2016 bleaching event, and there has, as yet, been little recovery. There is some hope though, as the substrate is not yet covered in algae, so coral recruits do have a place to settle and grow.
We learned from Hussein Zahir, that it took almost 12 years for the reefs to recover from the previous massive bleaching event in 1997, but by 2009 there was significant coral cover once again. As we had just had to witness an almost completely dead reef in Kudafalu, these statistics did give us some comfort. The problem is that due to climate change, pollution and other human impacts, events threatening/killing reefs/corals now come around so frequently that there is little time for reefs to recover from one impact until they are pummelled by the next. There is no denying it: the reefs of the Maldives, and elsewhere, are in serious trouble.
Before work, on Tuesday, we managed to squeeze in an educational dawn dive, with most of our indicator fish species presenting themselves in all their glory, including the magnificent humphead wrasse. Apart from that it has been systematic survey work followed by the all important data entry. Spirits are high, and we look forward to our whale shark survey tomorrow.