Read more in the project synopsis available for download below
Coral Bleaching, BleachWatch, and CPCe
Coral bleaching refers to a process in which corals expel the algal cells (zooxanthellae) that normally live within their tissue. Large-scale bleaching episodes are usually associated with unusually high sea temperatures, suggesting that coral reefs are showing early signs of stress due to global warming. There has been extensive climate-related damage to some Maldivian coral reefs while other reefs have escaped the damage. Understanding the varying effects and implications of climate change, and identifying management responses are urgent challenges for the conservation of reefs worldwide. Yet, detecting and measuring climate change impacts, even dramatic effects such as coral bleaching, can be difficult. The initial onset of mass coral bleaching can range from gradual and patchy to rapid and uniform, and can occur with varying synchrony over hundreds or thousands of square kilometres. Detecting the early signs of a massbleaching event requires a wide network of observers providing regular reports of conditions throughout the region.
As a program, BleachWatch has been designed to provide reliable reports of reef condition from a range of reef users. BleachWatch taps into the experience and intimate knowledge many members of the community have about their local reefs. It provides a formal mechanism to link observations by tourism guides, management field staff and other regular reef visitors with conservation and management programs. BleachWatch originated in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia, but is now running in several other countries, including the USA, Indonesia, Madagascar, and in Phase I of this project in the Egyptian Red Sea. The main objective of this program will be to set up training sessions for resort marine biologists, dive guides and management / field staff to recognise and report coral bleaching events.
CPCe, or Coral Point Count with excel extension, was developed by the National Coral Reef Institute and is a software designed to determine coral coverage and diversity using transect photographs. Underwater photographic frames are overlaid with a matrix of randomly generated points, and the fauna/flora species or substrate type lying beneath each point is identified. The program offers an easy and efficient way of recording the benthic community and coral cover over large spatial scales as it allows the permanent capture of large amounts of data with only limited dive time. Such data collected across the Maldives over time will provide the national government and resort managers with valuable, archivable information to understand and respond to observed changes and threats to coral reef systems.
|Coral Reefs and Climate Change Project Synopsis - Maldives||PDF Document 1.32MB|