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Coral Mission Foundation - a Polish idea for the restoration of coral reefs

The Coral Mission Foundation is a foundation set up in the Maldives by Pole Maria Sotek to protect and restore coral reefs. Maria’s motto is “it’s time to give and not just take” and it seems to fit perfectly with the situation she faced in the Maldives. The main purpose of the Coral Mission Foundation
Published: February 18, 2022 - 07:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 00:06
Coral Mission Foundation – a Polish idea for the restoration of coral reefs

The Coral Mission Foundation is a foundation set up in the Maldives by Pole Maria Sotek to protect and restore coral reefs.

Maria’s motto is “it’s time to give and not just take” and it seems to fit perfectly with the situation she faced in the Maldives. The main purpose of the Coral Mission Foundation is to conduct research, lectures and work to establish coral nurseries. This is what makes it possible to rebuild damaged reefs.

coral farming - maldives
Coral plantation, specially prepared pieces of coral placed on a rope

The first such nursery has already been set up on the beautiful island of Dhigurah and was entirely funded by private donations. On this picturesque island, at a depth of 10 metres, divers from the foundation have sunk a special square-shaped stand. Between its walls stretched ropes to which small pieces of coral collected from the surrounding reefs were attached. Of course, no coral was damaged in the process, only broken coral lying on the bottom was collected. This will be a chance for them to become the building blocks for new, healthy and strong pieces of reef.

The probationary period at the nursery is six months. During this time, a site supervisor is on site to oversee everything and regularly check the condition of the colony. If necessary, he intervenes and makes sure to regularly clean the corals of algae that could lead to the death of the coral.

coral farming in the Maldives
Measuring and cataloguing coral samples before placing them in culture

How are corals grown?

The key issue is to find a suitable donor. In this case, much depends on the size of the coral itself. If it is a rather large piece, it is split into slightly smaller ones. After obtaining fragments of the desired size of about 5-10 cm, we can proceed. After proper preparation, the piece is hung on a line. Of course there are other ways to deal with larger broken corals, but we will focus on them in the next text on breeding and propagation of corals.

activities of the Coral Mission Foundation The objectives of the foundation:
  1. Breeding of corals for the restoration of damaged local reefs
  2. Coral Planting – as an additional source of income for local people. Tourists can inoculate their coral themselves and will then receive information about it throughout the growing period. All this for a set fee
  3. Spreading awareness of the importance of coral reefs among local people and tourists

New islands being built on a… reef?!

Marek Sotek Maria Sotek Ewa Sienkiewicz

Posted by Coral Mission on Thursday, February 17, 2022

Why was the foundation established and what are its aims? Well, the main reason for the foundation is to save coral reefs. There are countless reefs around practically every island in the Maldives. But now is a difficult time for them and without the right support they could suffer serious damage and many of them could cease to exist.

The Maldives, due to its location, is a mecca for tourists from all over the world. Consequently, tourism is the main source of livelihood for Maldivians. However, this success has also come at a price. The politicians in power have made poor decisions when it comes to making the islands available for rent for new resorts. As a result, we may face a situation where more reefs simply disappear.

Foundation members in the Maldives
Ali (is the local keeper of the first reef farm on Dhigura) with Mark, during the construction of the first reef farm.
Problem

Until recently, everything was done in a rather controversial way. When a suitable island or sandbank was found, it was leased to resort owners. However, the number of such places was limited in advance. Now we are at the point where such places are slowly beginning to run out. Therefore, in order to meet the growing demand, the government has decided to lease out shallow coral reefs.

The tenant is free to create a new island for himself, burying hundreds of square metres of coral reefs. All this happens without any protection or supervision, which of course has consequences for the local ecosystem.

This is the platform on which the foundation Coral Mission Foundation The aim is simple – end the filling in of the lagoons. The aim is simple – no more filling in of the shallows. The new tenant would be required to relocate part of the reef and plant it in a new location. Obviously bearing all the costs involved. Will this work? Time will tell. The Foundation also has a plan B. If the demands described above are not implemented, it wants to be able to harvest as much coral as possible as part of its statutory activities.

Polish woman sets up Coral Mission Foundation
Maria Sotek – founder and initiator of the Coral Reef Foundation

Coral Mission Foundation has been registered in Poland and is currently in the process of being registered in the Maldives. It is also worth mentioning that the foundation has received official support from the government and the Ministry of Tourism.

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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