Phase I. Pilot project
We are establishing our headquarters on Dhigurah Island. It is also the place where we will launch our pilot project. We will test the implemented solutions in turn and select the best and most effective ones. All our activities will take place under the scientific direction of a marine biologist.
As part of the pilot project, we will:
- analyze the state of preservation of the reef surrounding the island in its different parts and the conditions such as strength and direction of currents, dust, depth, degree of sunlight/shade.
- Based on our analysis, we will select the appropriate locations for coral nurseries and target sites (i.e. places where we will plant the corals after they have finished growing in the nursery and where we will be able to plant them immediately if we have their larger fragments).
- We will prepare an underwater rack that will form the base for the coral nursery. We will test various frame variants to finally choose the optimal one. When making the choice, we will consider the following information: degree of difficulty of implementation, price, availability and ease of transportation of materials, weight, durability, etc.
- We will organize and test all phases of the coral planting process, i.e.:
- collecting coral fragments,
- storing collected fragments in the underwater rack (including various options for the location and construction of the storage facility),
- preparing, submerging and anchoring the rack, possibly using buoys,
- planting coral fragments on ropes,
- measuring planted corals and recording measurements,
- installing ropes with corals on the frame,
- caring for corals after planting in the nursery,
- taking and recording measurements of corals growing in the nursery,
- planting corals at the target site (we will test them on larger coral fragments),
- protecting and caring for corals after they are planted in their final location.
This phase will take from 3 to 6 months.
Phase II. Development of procedures
In this phase, we will create clear and repeatable procedures for each step of the coral planting process based on the experience from the pilot project.
Phase III. Creating a product
We will create, based on the developed procedures, a ready-to-sell, high-quality product for tourism entrepreneurs in local islands, in the form of activity for tourists called coral planting.
Coral planting will include:
- A short lecture on corals – explanation of what corals and coral reefs are, the place of corals in the ecosystem, explanation of why they are important to the entire ocean and the causes and effects of their extinction,
- Preparation of coral fragments for planting by tourists,
- Insertion of coral fragments into a rope,
- Measurement and recording of the results,
- Attachment of the coral rope to the underwater rack (if the tourists are divers) or watching the guide attach the rope (if the tourists are not divers),
- Receipt of a certificate with full documentation of the planted corals, including their photos and description, and photos taken by the guide during the event,
- Regular receipt of a report on the corals planted by the tourist every two months until the corals are transplanted to their final location, along with their current photos and information on the degree of growth.
At the beginning, we will test coral planting with the guests of our chosen partner (it will be a guesthouse that also runs a dive center). After testing and making adjustments, if any, we will move on to the main phase of the project.
Phase IV. Implementation
The next main phase of the project will be the beginning of a collaboration with local partners – dive centers and guesthouses – starting from Dhigurah Island and then expanding to other islands and atolls.
The collaboration will be to provide local partners with a quality product ready to sell to their clients, including all procedures, materials and tools. Each partner will be trained and supervised by our marine biologist in the field of following the standards and procedures we have developed for the coral planting process.
The fee paid for coral planting by the guests will partially constitute the profit of our partner and partially the profit of Coral Mission to cover some of our costs and to continue the work.
In this way, we will be able to rapidly expand the territorial scope of our activities and make coral planting and coral reef restoration happen on a large scale in the Maldives, involving members of local communities and bringing them direct financial benefits in addition to the obvious long-term benefits.