x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dubai coral reef project aims to boost marine life

Divers will use epoxy glue to affix transplanted coral to 40 giant rocks off the coast of Jumeirah in Dubai next year in hopes of creating a new reef.

Divers will use epoxy glue to affix transplanted coral to 40 giant rocks off the coast of Jumeirah in Dubai next year in hopes of creating a new reef.

The project aims to boost marine life and is similar to several already in place in the UAE, including those forming breakwaters by some of Nakheel's developments offshore.

The process is to begin in March across from the Dubai Ladies Club, but it will take several years for scientists to know if the coral will thrive.

"To know really how successful this is, we will need the survival rates [of the transplanted corals] after two years," said Keith Wilson, marine programmes director for the Emirates Marine Environment Group.

The Dubai-based non-profit organisation is doing the work for the Dubai Ladies Club and two hotels in the emirate, the Shangri La and the Traders Hotel.

Named Al Murjan, which means coral in Arabic, the reef has been inspired by Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed, president of the Dubai Women Establishment and wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Presidential Affairs.

Capstone rocks from the UAE, each weighing up to two tonnes, will be placed in the water to form two patches, each about 25 metres in diameter, said Mr Wilson. Then a team of four divers working in pairs will secure the coral pieces, harvested from healthy reefs elsewhere in the emirate, on the rocks.

The team will focus on corals from the family faviidae, also known as brain coral because of their resemblance to a human brain, and table corals of the genus acropora, which branch out horizontally. Acropora were wiped out from reefs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi by high temperatures in 1996 and 1998.

Although coral reefs only cover a fraction of the ocean floor, they sustain about a quarter of all marine creatures.

Once the corals have been attached to the rocks, teams of volunteer divers from the Dubai Ladies Club will monitor their health.

 

vtodorova@thenational.ae