Why is the Project needed?
Coral reefs are vital to the economy of Mauritius. In fact, Mauritius is ranked among the countries of the world with the highest levels of dependence on coral reefs. Local fisheries are dependent on the health of their coral reefs. Tourism is now becoming the most important part of the Mauritius economy and is dependent on the flourishing marine life of the reefs, their ability to stabilise our beaches from erosion and replenish them with beautiful white coral sand. However, reefs in Mauritius have declined in coral cover by as much as 60% in recent years. Corals reefs in Mauritius are particularly threatened by nutrient inputs and sedimentation (caused by run-off from unsustainable agriculture and development), overfishing, destructive fishing and tourism practices and the impacts of global climate change causing ocean warming.
What is our aim?
Together WiseOceans and Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita are working with the Ministry of Ocean Economy to restore an area of the coral reef in the lagoon. Using WiseOceans’ innovative reef restoration method we transplant healthy coral fragments to a 10,000 sqm area of degraded reef. Through this project we are helping to conserve this precious lagoon, increasing coral cover and recovery of reef biomass, key reef species and ecosystem processes. Our project also uses the incredible education potential of reef restoration to raise awareness about our reefs and the threats they face. Working with the community, from schools to reef users, Resort guests and team members, to empower us all to save our vital coral reefs and to support the next generation of ocean lovers.
How we do it?
First we created a coral nursery comprising lengths of steel bent into arches, which are fixed into the seafloor. We grow our corals on small metal bars, which we hang from these steel arches. This creates a safe environment for our corals to grow in before we transplant them back onto the reef. Our nursery also acts as a protective area for juvenile reef fish, which like to shelter around the arches.
The project focuses on growing corals of the genus Acropora. This type of coral once dominated the reef and, through its intricate structure, it creates important habitat for many reef species.
Using carefully selected and monitored ‘donor’ corals, we sourced a limited number of fragments from large, healthy coral colonies on the surrounding reef to establish a coral nursery, without significantly impacting these donor colonies. We also regularly use ‘corals of opportunity’ -small pieces of live corals that break off the reef naturally, and which can be collected and doctored ready for the nursery.
Once our coral nursery fragments have grown into new healthy coral colonies, we use a percentage of these as new ‘donor’ colonies, creating a sustainable supply of next-generation coral fragments for the nursery. The rest of the colonies are taken from the nursery and attached onto the existing structure of the reef – large table coral skeletons and other limestone reef substrate.
Meet the team
Bernard Toinette | Marine Educator
Bernard comes from the beautiful island of Mauritius and, having always lived near the coast, feels very connected with the oceans and the marine life within. As well as taking guests and resort staff out on guided snorkels, Bernard takes a lead on the La Passe Cadet Reef Restoration Project which aims to restore 10,000 sqm of the reef close to the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita.
Mauritius is surrounded by a shallow lagoon fringed by a protective coral reef. Inside this protection, the marine environment of the lagoon comprises a sandy bottom with beds of seagrass and patches of coral reef.
Our project focusses on an area of degraded patch reef near to the Resort on the east coast of Mauritius. This area was once covered by healthy corals, but has lost much of its coral cover and diversity over the last 20 years.
WiseOceans and Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita are working together to protect coral reefs and mangroves in Mauritius while raising awareness of the importance of local marine life. Our Marine Discovery Programme at the Resort incorporates environmental education into the guest experience, enhancing guest knowledge and understanding of the beautiful coral reefs and lush mangroves surrounding the Resort. And it all starts here, at the Marine Education Station, the place to learn about the marine life of Mauritius from our resident Marine Educator.