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Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - Beneath the shimmering waters that surround the island archipelago of the Maldives’ Baa Atoll region, a fragile world quietly rebuilds itself. Coral reefs, the most diverse type of marine habitat, protect the pristine beaches at Anantara Kihavah Villas and guard Kihavah Huravalhi Island’s crystal-clear lagoon. They also support an astounding array of tropical fish, crustaceans and bizarre-looking molluscs. But for all of its beauty and apparent resilience, coral is a sensitive organism, vulnerable to extreme weather and sudden environmental changes.

In June 2011 UNESCO declared the Baa Atoll a Biosphere Reserve.

In its commitment to protect the environment, Anantara Kihavah Villas has initiated the Coral Adoption Programme, a long-term plan designed to share learning experiences with guests, accelerate the regeneration of coral growth in the atoll reef, and ultimately ensure the future of this unique Maldivian destination.

Extending across the expansive Laccadives Sea, the Maldives is a country of atolls; small coral islands encircled by azure lagoons. Surrounded by the vastness of the ocean, the Baa Atoll, like the rest of the country, is vulnerable to extreme weather as well as the effects of global warming.  In 1998 more than 90 percent of shallow coral reef in the Maldives died when El Niño, a climatic phenomenon, raised sea temperatures by 4°C. It was enough to stress the coral and to release the microscopic algae that give them their kaleidoscopic colours, so the reef bleached. The coral has begun to regenerate since suffering from the bleaching event, but future temperature fluctuations threaten its survival. The Baa Atoll still needs help.

Although only a few months have passed, the reef is showing signs of recovery and marine life has begun to return. Sea turtles nap near the yellow wall of coral in front of the Dive Centre. Just beyond the viewing windows at ‘Sea’, the underwater wine cellar and restaurant, striped lionfish, moray eel and bright orange clownfish look for meals of their own around the corals, while just a bit further away trevallies chase whatever they can.  Neon fusiliers, parrotfish and surgeonfish are all around and, with midnight and two-spot snappers in the distance, offer a mesmerising view.  Linger here long enough and your patience might be rewarded with a glimpse of an eagle ray or turtle hurrying by.

Source: Anantara

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