Submitted by Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt, Reef Check Maldives Coordinator
Biosphere Expeditions, with local partners and The Marine Conservation Society of UK (MCS), has successfully surveyed the effects of the 2016 bleaching event on Maldives reefs. We used Reef Check in our 2016 surveys to provide data on differences between bleaching impacts on inner and outer reefs. The data is being presented at the next Rufford regional conference by Hussein Zahir of LaMer group in the Maldives, who has been developing a relationship with us since 2011, as well as helping us to identify Maldivian participants for our expeditions. The conference is a learning experience for different recipients of Rufford grants in the region over recent years.
The next MCS/Biosphere Expedition to the Maldives is from 15-29 July 2017 with a difference. The second week (22-29 July) is only for divers already certified as Reef Check EcoDivers. This allows participants to have a short refresher day, then get down to 2-3 dives a day of data collection, with the expedition able to move much further southeast than we've done before. We have yet to survey these southern reefs of Felidhoo atoll to record site conditions that haven't been surveyed since the late 1990s. The first week of the expedition (15-21 July) will survey those sites visited on this year's expedition to see how they're doing since the bleaching event.
We hope that experienced and qualified Reef Check EcoDivers will join us on week 2 so that we can get some excellent data on new sites. Please visit www.biosphere-expeditions.org/maldives for more information and to sign up.