Temperature - no reefs develop where the mean annual temp. of water is below 18 o C. However, above 21 o C causes problems of health to the reef. The Maldives fits this temperature requirement as its temp. never exceeds these extremes.
Water depth: most reefs grow in depths of 25m or less on the margins of continents or islands. The depth of the Indian Ocean, which surrounds the Maldives, does not exceed this condition.
Light: light is needed for the photosynthesis of algae, which feed the coral reefs in the Maldives. Therefore shallow water is needed to allow max. light to reach the reefs.
Salinity: corals are marine creatures which are intolerant of water which has less than 30-32psu. They can therefore survive in the saline conditions of the Indian Ocean.
Threats to the coral reef - NC
– various types of fishing can destroy the coral reef; dynamite fishing blows up the coral which destroys the reef, nets from intensive fishing get caught on the reef and damage it, and anchors from fishing boats also harm the corals.
- rising sea levels in the Maldives are a threat as corals cant survive with sea levels above 25m. This rise in sea levels could be due to many factors (including global warming)
-extreme weather events such as hurricanes can harm the reef due to rising sea levels, strong waves etc.
-inputs of fresh water on the coasts due to an increased population and increased number of hotels are a threat as saline water is required for survival.
-mining coral is a threat
-pollution from agriculture, sewage and industry threatens the coral. This occurs due to the fact that the Maldives is an LEDC and so can’t afford cleaning plants for water. It is therefore just dumped straight into the ocean.
-dredging activities are harmful
removal of fish species -river-borne nutrients and sediment discharges from natural sources and deforestation are a threat
Extreme weather events
Sediment discharges - deforestation
Why should we manage coral reefs?
Coral reefs are greatly important for the future of the Maldives, as these are one of the main attractions for tourists in the area.
Tourism has become the country's major source of foreign exchange, surpassing fishing. In 1992 tourism income constituted 17% of GDP. Furthermore, tourism is expected to increase as the government infrastructure improvement projects in the areas of transportation, communications, sanitation, water supply, and other support facilities are put into place.
Therefore the coral needs to be sustained for the economic stability of the area.
How can we manage it?
A sustainable solution will involve management at differing scales
Creating a Marine park – still in the proposal stage
Banning dynamite fishing and coral mining
Managing human population growth and migration
Protection of coral reefs from sewage, mining, waste disposal and sea-level rises
Managing dredging, deforestation and freshwater management