Hurawalhi Marine Center
Learn more about life in the ocean
If you’re curious about all things ocean then Hurawalhi’s Marine Center is the place to go! Our two resident marine biologists and manta ray researchers, Lois and Kat, are excited to share their knowledge and answer all your questions about the underwater world around our beautiful island. You can also visit us to get the latest news on Hurawalhi’s exciting conservation projects, which are outlined below. We look forward to welcoming you!
Our Resident Marine Biologist leads snorkeling excursions in search of the majestic manta rays, during which she shares her knowledge with guests and guides them to follow responsible guidelines for swimming with mantas to create the best encounter experience for both us and the mantas!
Each individual manta has a unique spot-pattern on their underside which can be used just like a fingerprint to identify individuals. Across the Maldives, over 5,200 reef manta rays have been identified, with a smaller sub-population of 430 found in Lhaviyani Atoll.
If you walk around Hurawalhi you are bound to find a juvenile blacktip reef shark (or several!). We are very excited to be researching our local reef shark population. Our aim is to investigate the population characteristics, spatial distribution and influence of environmental conditions of the blacktip reef sharks we find around Hurawalhi. We are using a camera system called “Eyes on the Reef”, which takes a photograph every 5 seconds during the day and can be left for 5 days at a time. Although we keep a record of all the sharks we see whilst snorkeling and diving, it will be very insightful to see the sharks (and rays) that pass by when we’re not there!
Coral Restoration Project
Coral reefs around the world are severely threatened by climate change impacts. Rising sea temperatures induce a process known as coral bleaching, in which the coral dies, revealing its bright white skeleton. Together with other natural and anthropogenic threats, such as pollution or ocean acidification, coral reefs worldwide are being massively degraded. For this reason, great efforts are being invested globally to restore the world’s reefs, and Hurawalhi is part of this aim!
Led by Paula, The Hurawalhi Coral Restoration Project is mainly focused on recovering the reef around the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant. The idea is to restore the reefs around the island by transplanting opportunistic coral fragments into specifically located structures. The transplantation process is as follows: first, coral fragments from different local species are collected. Then, these coral recruits are settled on the structures. Very often, these coral fragments fall or break due to wave action and currents, and sometimes they don’t adapt to the new environment and die. However, some of them attach very well and start growing, attracting marine biodiversity to the area! We carry out an established monitoring program in which we monthly assess population level metrics, such as abundance or coral growth and colony level metrics, such as survival or coral condition. Great progress is being observed and we are very excited to share our findings with you!