Maldives has been in the dreams of any diver, sea-lover and newly married couple for many years and unfortunately for the past years also on the news for climate change & coral bleaching.
The country is one of the most dispersed countries in the world and is the smallest Asian country in area and the population is dispersed along 26 Atolls and 1,120 islands.
The islands sit atop a vast underwater mountain range in the Indian Ocean and the highest point is only 1.5 meters above sea level and this is why Maldives and other countries in the world have been in the news so much during the last Climate Change summit in France.
Maldives depends highly on inbound tourism, around 700,000 people visit Maldives every year and around 15% of them (100,000) are divers. The country has been seriously affected by coral bleaching in 1998 and by the Tsunami in 2004. These were events that caused a significant drop in the tourist’s arrivals.
Although the Tsunami damaged the city, some villages and some hotels structures, most of this infrastructure damages could be easily repaired or rebuilt in a year time, while on the other hand the Coral Bleaching effects could take decades or centuries to recover due to the coral growth speed.
Some scientists say 90% of the Maldivian coral reefs were affected and large areas were completely lost reducing the income generated by visitors such as scuba divers and affecting the underwater fauna.
Specialist from all over the world as well as climate change scientists are predicting a similar if not worst El Nino for 2016 (April ~ May), the worldwide climate scenario is getting closer to what we have experienced just before the 1998 El Nino and this new one will have devastating effects.
Coral reefs are a colony of organisms, animals which depend on food = algae to survive, when coral “bleach” they are not dead yet, they are actually “starving” as the micro-algae’s which are their food are not available anymore – dead by the rise of the raise of the ocean’s temperature.
When the reef is not healthy anymore, algae is not there, coral’s are dying there is also no more food for other small fishes and therefore no more food for the larger fishes, gently but surely the reef dies and becomes a vast pile of brown coral skeletons.
No diver in the world wants to dive and experience this scenario, they tend to go to other places or simply stop diving at all disappointed of he saw, slowly the number of tourists, number of nights, and number of dive packages, dive gear and jobs start to fall.
Our goal is to raise sufficient awareness to avoid other El Nino to happen or at least to happen naturally way and affect less the reefs, our world our lives.
A group of divers has decided to do something about and if we cannot stop this nature’s act we can at least provide information and knowledge for scientists to reduce or minimize the effects and more important to raise public awareness to stop/reduce carbon emissions around the world.
Our mission will be to conduct a 48 hours duration dive at Maaya Thila in the North Ari Atoll on the south-west region of the Republic of the Maldives.
Although Ari Atoll is conveniently far from the country’s capital – Male, the atoll and its reefs receive a large number of visitors every year, being considered one of the Top 10 dive sites in the Maldives.
The team of eight professional divers from different parts of the world will install 5 underwater action sport wide-angle style cameras in GPS marked positions which will record for images for 48 hours nonstop. Our team of divers will make sure that the cameras are working and securely fixed on the reef without damaging or interfering with any marine organism.
The team will be taking turns to constantly monitor the cameras during the 48 hours dive and making sure they are recording without interference or technical problems. In case of any technical problems as well as due to battery life, the cameras will be replaced by same ones and on the same stop in order no to stop the footage.
The team will be equipped with CCR and open circuit equipment and high quality thermal and sun protection to avoid any risks associated to the large exposure to the pressure and sun.
With our 48 hours footage will be analyzing fauna movements, fish schools, sharks, turtles as well as vast areas of coral reefs, the images will be fed live on the projects’ website so people around the world will be able to virtually dive on a Maldivian reef at any given time no matter the time zone.
The data recorded will be sent over to different scientific institutions so to keep a visual data bank of the reef and compare to previous and future images/footages.
IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature through their office in Male will be one of the organisations that will publish the data produced during the project.
Other sponsors/partners on this project are: Turkish Airlines, Deep Blue Diving Services, Atoll Scuba, SSI and others are coming on board on a daily basis.
The 48 hours duration dive will be conducted at Maaya Thila one of the top 10 dive sites in the Maldives visited every year by hundreds of divers on February 26th through 28th 2016.
The spot was chosen due to its geographical location, variable currents allowing a large number of fauna to come closer to the shallow top of the reef and its reef formation.
Our team is made of some top-notch divers who have been working or living in the Maldives for decades and have logged in thousands of dives in the Maldives among them a good hundreds on Rasdhoo Atoll and Maaya Thila. They will be supervised by the two teams:
Mohamed Shafraz Naeem
Born in Maldives on December 17th 1975, Shafraz or Shaff has been actively involved with scuba diving since his early days, nowadays he shares his time between diving on CCR rebreathers and developing technical diving in the Maldives, as well as shooting pictures and videos. Some of his work has been published in different magazines and aired in TV channels around the world such as BBC, EDA, Asian Diver & Maldives Finder. He is also a SSI Instructor Trainer and has spent some time diving and teaching at the Maldives Military as a combat diver.
Born in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil on March 29th 1966, Marcelo has a degree in Marine Biology and has been a diving instructor since 1985, a NAUI Course Director, CMAS 2** Instructor and also a PADI MSDT he has been a diving instructor at the Brazilian Navy School since 1990 and have live and worked in the Maldives for 3 years and logged over 2,000 dives in Maldivian waters.
For such a complex event some high quality equipment will be needed as well as some infrastructure on the surface for safety and comfort of the divers team.
- Live aboard vessel equipped with generators and water desalination unit
- Diving Dhoni equipped with tanks, weights and air compressor
- Personal Dive Gear and back up (wet suits, masks, regulators, BCD, fins & dive computers
- CCR – Fully Closed Rebreathers
- UW Sport Cameras and cables
- Laptops and live-cam software
- Dive Medical Team on stand-by
- Sea Plane on stand by for diving emergencies
In order to be successful on our mission to generate public awareness we need to join forced with sponsors, partners and the public to be able to gather all equipment, people and structure we need.
Without them on board our goal will be hard or even impossible to achieve, we already have on board quite a few sponsors/partners, people who in one way or the other share the values, love and care for the ocean and their living creatures.
We would like to ask you to join our mission in a way suitable for you, there is no minimum, there no maximum, there is no too little, there is what each of us can put it and together we can make a difference.
We of course need funds to make it possible, but we also need equipment, media space, infrastructure, air tickets and so on, so each of you can participate in the way best suitable for you.
We will be waiting for your contact, the coral reef thanks you.