Coral Conservation Program at OBLU SELECT Sangeli: Recoloring the Lagoon
OBLU SELECT Sangeli kickstarted a reef conservation program, in January of 2019, in response to the threats posed to the survival of coral reefs by global warming, ocean acidification, and pollution.
OBLU SELECT Sangeli began its journey by building a coral nursery to restore the disintegrated coral cover.
The nursery is located in the main lagoon and uses the coral line method, with 151 coral fragments that are twisted into seven ropes, each five meters in length, which are then propagated and cultivated.
Additionally, the resort placed 60 metal frames with 2280 coral fragments in three different locations around the island; the coral gardens included 15 frames placed at 7-8 meter depths in the main lagoon, 35 frames placed at 2 meter depths in front of the water villas and 10 frames placed in the lagoon side of the water villas.
New coral colonies in bloom
OBLU SELECT Sangeli credits its in-house marine biologist, Giorgia Maggioni, and the team for the flourishing coral nursery, who monitored and nurtured the nursery regularly to remove marine debris and replanted broken corals resulting in thriving coral colonies over the last three years.
The resort recorded that the rope structure grew well and will soon be transplanted to the house reef. They estimate the survival rates of these corals to be extremely high.
The conservation efforts have successfully resulted in a lush coral cover over the lagoon bed, allowing numerous fish and other marine animals to visit and inhabit the frames. Furthermore, this enables snorkelers to glimpse a myriad of ocean life; both rare and common.
The 2016 coral bleaching had left the reefs around the island barren without life-sustaining reefs. However, thanks to the reef restoration program, the 5-star resort is located on a lush, private island with white sandy beaches and a turquoise lagoon fringed by dazzling coral reefs.
Initiatives by OBLU SELECT Sangeli
The resort offers its visitors learning sessions, “Marine Talks”, twice a week, where they provide an overview of the local flora and fauna focusing on corals, turtles, sharks and rays.
2.Ghost Net Bracelets
Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been abandoned, lost, or discarded at sea, on beaches or in harbours. Although now prohibited in the Maldives, ocean currents often wash up these nets on the islands. Recently, Sangeli island had removed four nets from the oceans and after releasing the entangled animals back into the sea, the staff at the resort repurposed the most colorful threads from the nets into bracelets. These ghost net bracelets were then sold to guests and all acquired funds went into the coral reef restoration program.
3.Protecting Hawksbill Turtles
Hawksbill Turtles are one of the seven critically endangered species in the Maldives. To protect these turtles, often found around the island of Sangeli, the resort initiated a photo-identification initiative in collaboration with Marine Savers and Olive Ridley Project (ORP). A new turtle was identified in the Sangeli house reef and named Akiri, in honor of the island’s local name of Akirifushi.
Guests are welcomed to get trained in photo-identification and look out for Hawksbill Turtles during dives. Moreover, if there happens to be a new identification, guests get to name them.
4.Sea Turtle Nesting and Hatching
The standard operating procedure at the resort chain, Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts, is to identify, monitor, handle, and release sea turtle hatchlings into the wild. Although first prepared and implemented at OBLU SELECT Sangeli, this procedure ensures the safety of the turtle nests and hatchlings found at the resorts, thus increasing the likelihood of the hatchlings surviving their journey within the ocean.
OBLU SELECT Sangeli dubbed to be “an ideal romantic destination” opened its doors in July 2018.