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!
Manta Ray Research
As regional project managers for Manta Trust‘s Maldivian Manta Ray Project, Lois and Kat are in charge of monitoring our local population of manta rays. Lois and Kat join snorkel and dive excursions in search of these majestic giants, where they educate guests on how to follow Manta Trust’s guidelines for swimming with mantas and conduct their all-important research.
A big part of this research is collecting ID photographs of the mantas’ ventral surfaces – a fancy way of saying their tummies! Each individual has a unique spot-pattern on their underside which can be used just like a fingerprint to track their movements! Across the Maldives, Manta Trust has identified over 4,700 manta rays using photo IDs, with a smaller sub-population of 380 found in Lhaviyani Atoll so far. Photo ID work allows us to monitor the population and their movements, and to identify and safeguard important aggregation sites.
If you’ve taken any ID photographs of manta rays, please come along to the Marine Biology Centre to share these with us, or,if you’ve already left the island, send them using the button below. This is incredibly helpful to our research, and most excitingly – if the individual is new to our database then you will have the opportunity to give it a name!
Coral Restoration Project
Guests can also learn about our work to help restore Hurawalhi’s coral reefs! In the Maldives and around the world, coral reefs have become severely degraded due to bleaching – a catastrophic effect of rising sea temperatures. To help our reefs recover from such damage, we have undertaken an exciting new coral nursery project! The idea is to nurture coral fragments within our nursery until they are large enough to transplant onto surrounding reefs.
How exactly do we do this? First we collect damaged corals from around Hurawalhi’s 5.8 Undersea Restaurant – coral recruits settle on the structures around the restaurant, but very often fall or are broken off. Almost all of these will die, so we give them a second chance at life by collecting them as donors for our nursery. To prepare a coral line, we break the coral into small fragments, measure them, and then attach them to the rope, which we fix onto our metal nursery frame. We are only the in the very early stages of our nursery, so our corals are not big enough to be transplanted onto the reefs yet, but we are excited to share our findings and progress with you!