The Maamigili reef of Maldives’ South Ari atoll, is facing irreversible destruction due to local
development work. The Villa-Maamigili Airport is currently undergoing expansion to increase
the Airport area by around 30 hectares.
The construction required involves pumping large
quantities of sand onto the reef which will destroy the corals, displace countless wildlife and
negatively impact the surrounding marine environment. NGO Coral Mission has been granted
permission by Gasim Ibrahim, the owner of Maamigili Airport, to collect the corals of Maamigili
reef and relocate them to Dhigurah island – 18 km away from Villa-Maamigili Airport.
The Maamigili reef relocation project will be undertaken by Coral Mission’s marine biologist
and a group of expert divers under the guidance of Karl Fellenius (Coral Mission’s scientific
advisor who has 20 years of experience in reef relocation). The team has begun to survey
Maamigili reef to evaluate the number and types of corals suitable for relocation. Metal frames
are also being built on Dhigurah which will be placed underwater in Dhigurah’s lagoon near an
existing coral nursery that is doing well under the care of Coral Mission’s team.
The diving team from Coral Mission will spend 2 months collecting at least 1800 corals from
Maamigili and replanting them at Dhigurah. Divers will use small chisels and hammers to collect
corals from the reef and will then carefully transfer them to a Dhoni for transport. Corals must
be kept wet and moved quickly to reduce stress and increase their odds of survival during
relocation. Once they are relocated to Dhigurah, divers will replant the corals by attaching them
onto the submerged frames using underwater glue, cable ties and other various materials
depending on the coral’s shape and size.
These relocated corals will then be carefully observed by a marine biologist who will monitor
their health and growth over time. Relocating and replanting corals from Maamigili reef will
preserve Maldivian coral biodiversity and increase coral cover around Dhigurah island.
Furthermore, these replanted corals will contribute to Coral Mission’s long term goals which
are to implement coral restoration.
Impact van werken en waarom koraal redden belangrijk is:
Impact of works and why Coral rescuing is important:
• Rescuing, relocating and replanting coral helps maintain coral cover and important coral
species which contribute to the environment and the economy in numerous ways.
• The 42km long South Ari Marine Protected Area is famous for having the world's only year-
round aggregation of Whale Sharks. Although these animals dive up to 1000m deep, they often
visit coral reefs to seek shelter and eat plankton that are drawn to reefs during coral spawning events.
Therefore, conserving coral reef cover helps protect Whale sharks by maintaining their
food supply and protecting sheltering areas.
• Replanting corals of the Maamigili reef will also preserve the genetic biodiversity of coral
species which helps increase the potential resilience of a reef in the face of future pressures
such as higher climate change driven temperatures. A more resilient reef means less coral lost
to mass bleaching events or other extreme environmental changes.
• Relocating corals will help conserve habitat for reef fish which are important for maintaining
healthy coral reefs. Reef fish also contribute healthy fishing stocks which in turn supports local
fishermen and the nation's overall economy.
• Lastly, protecting coral reef cover is beneficial for (eco-friendly) tourism as many people visit
the Maldives for snorkeling and diving activities most of which occur around coral reefs.
The Living Ocean supports NGO Coral Mission by providing financial funds for this relocation of