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Restoring Coral Reefs Is a New Priority for Ocean Resorts

Source: The New York Times/Jennifer Billock - February 23, 2017 in Environment

Restoring Coral Reefs Is a New Priority for Ocean Resorts
Photo: Paul Toogood/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Last April, Caterina Fattori stood on a beach in the Maldives feeling frustrated. The coral reef was bleaching, turning into a ghost reef with pale, stressed corals, and she couldn’t do a thing about it except stand there, watch, and suffer along with the reef.

Ms. Fattori is the resident marine biologist at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort. She’s heading the resort’s collaboration with a local dive team and the German Museum of Oceanography and Fisheries in an initiative called Outrigger Ozone, a program designed to rebuild and regrow damaged coral reefs off the property’s tiny island. April’s bleaching was the latest in a series of global warming– and human-related assaults on the reef; this one attacked the reef she had already worked to restore, setting back her progress significantly.

Outrigger’s Ozone began in June 2015, joining a number of other resorts working to undo the reef damage caused by large structures on the beach, climate change, land-based pollution and the impact of fishing. There’s a prevailing sentiment that beach and island resorts contribute to erosion and environmental destruction. Outrigger Konotta, along with Wakatobi Dive Resort in Balithe Andaman in MalaysiaAlila Manggis in Bali, and Taj Exotica in the Maldives, aim to do the opposite. All five run reef reconstruction and conservation programs.

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