Committed to ocean sustainability and marine conservation, Velaa Private Island and their dedicated marine biology team oversee the development of the largest coral restoration program in the Maldives. The project includes reef restoration, marine life monitoring and educational programs such as teaching guests how to look after the ocean for future generations.
Since embarking on this journey in 2016 over 6,000 nursery-grown corals have been transplanted and there has been a notable increase in tropical fish. The resort’s onsite coral biologist aims to raise awareness of the destruction of coral reefs since the severe heat waves in 1998 and 2016 triggered coral bleaching. Guests of Velaa Private Island can witness the project first-hand by adopting corals or planting corals in the nursery when scuba diving alongside the marine team.
We interview the team at Velaa Private Island to gain further insight into the success of this project and learn about the fragile ecosystem of the Maldives.
What differentiates the Maldives from any other Indian Ocean destination?
Geographically across the entire continent, the Maldives sits closest to sea level. Arranged across the equator, the formation of beautifully distinctive atolls and islands along with a consistent climate make the Maldives a one-of-a-kind destination.
What are Velaa’s environmental commitment and social responsibility?
Looking after the surrounding natural beauty and educating local islands on the importance of sustainable practices is a cause we hold close to our hearts. Our marine program is focused on the restoration and monitoring of our coral reefs, while ‘Fehikuramaa’ is a new initiative that gives waste management and sustainability classes to both students and adults of the local community with the help of local sustainability experts and teachers.
Can you tell us a bit more about Velaa’s marine biology team?
The marine biology team is made up of three dedicated marine specialists, our Coral Restoration team is led by Marine Biologist, Emeline Bouchet.
What inspired the resort to take part in marine conservation?
Velaa decided to pursue this cause as a direct response to the coral bleaching events that took place in 2016, affecting many of the countries reefs and impacting the entire marine ecosystem.
How did the coral restoration start?
Since opening the resort in 2013, Jiri and Radka have always had a deep interest in the health and wellbeing of the surrounding environment. Following the events of 2016, they realised the impact on the marine environment and felt it was a necessary cause to help in restoring what was affected by starting this project.
What does coral restoration entail?
The process of coral restoration at Velaa starts with the creation of mid-water nurseries, these are positioned 8 meters below the surface and are made up of lengths of rope with small fragments of coral attached. The coral is left for 9 months, during which the team will monitor the health and growth of the coral. After 9 months, the coral is then transplanted back onto the reef.
How successful is the program since it first started?
Since its start in 2016, the coral restoration project has successfully transplanted 7,000 coral colonies back onto the reef, covering almost 1,000 meters squared. Achieving a survival rate of over 95% on the nursery and 70% after a year and a half of being transplanted.