Soneva Fushi is using Mineral Accretion Technology (MAT) to propagate corals in one of the largest coral nurseries in the world.
The project, launched in October 2021, is a collaboration between Soneva Fushi SCIE:NCE team and Coralive.org. The MAT channels low voltage electricity to the corals using metal structures placed under water, which allow for calcium carbonate skeletons to start to grow on the structures which accelerates coral growth.
The coral nursery, located at the outer edge of the house reefs, includes 15, 000 colonies of corals saved from South Male’s Gulhi Falhi lagoon before the reclamation project. The corals propagated for the nursery are ‘corals of opportunity’ – ones that are damaged, broken, or damaged due to storms, waves or human activities.
Maldivian hard coral reefs are the 7th largest in the world. The reefs face unprecedented threats with changes to global temperatures and ocean warming, with increased El Nino events leading to coral bleaching throughout the country. Coral propagation in nurseries is one of the methods deployed to recover the health of the reefs, and to save corals that may otherwise be destroyed due to development projects.
The Soneva Foundation will be making additional investments into a coral spawning and rearing lab, micro-fragmentation lab and resilience tanks later in the year. These facilities will allow scientists to monitor the coral’s natural reproduction, fertilise them under observation, and facilitate their growth in a lab.
Speaking to Soneva Foundation Magazine, Coralive.org’s founder Ahmad ‘Aki’ Allahgholi explained the selection of corals. “Corals from The Maldives that survived stressful events are specifically selected for their genetic materials. These corals will be placed in the spawning and rearing lab, to engender new generations of gametes and hence juvenile corals […] As soon as these corals have grown into fragments that are around 7cm in size, they will be transferred to the MAT nursery.”
Once they grow to a decent sized colony, the coral can then be transplanted into a natural reef.