After two years of extensive research and studies, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas is launching the ‘Wonders of Kihavah,’ – a ground-breaking research-based publication unveiling the breath-taking beauty and rich biodiversity of the island’s renowned house reef. This is the first time a resort in the Maldives has undertaken such an extensive reef assessment and scientific research-based study.
The publication, combining a scientific approach, compelling narrative, and stunning visuals, showcases the enchanting underwater world of Anantara Kihavah’s pristine marine ecosystem which was recently crowned as the Best House Reef in the Maldives in the 2023 Travel + Leisure Luxury Awards Southeast Asia.
The study, led by Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Director, Dr. Selina Ward, alongside fish and coral experts, Dr. Storm Martin and Dr. Hannah Markham, all who have conducted extensive research work on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, worked on the book highlighting the spectacular array of Kivavah’s marine life and the delicate equilibrium of the reef and the urgent need for marine conservation efforts, especially in the age of global warming.
Regarding the hospitality industry’s role, Dr. Ward stresses the utmost importance of urgently reducing carbon emissions to save coral reefs for the future. “In the period until emissions reductions become effective, we can work towards enhancing reef resilience, improving water quality, addressing land use impacts, removing threats such as overfishing and destructive fishing practices, and engaging in innovative restoration techniques for priority areas, such as beloved locations around resorts and essential regions serving as sources for coral and fish larvae. There are many innovative restoration techniques now that require the use of very small volumes of existing corals and targeted use of reared coral larvae.”
Dr. Ward emphasises the severity of marine heatwaves as a threat to coral reef health and survival worldwide, causing bleaching events with potentially devastating consequences. Reef recovery is possible, but the frequency of heatwaves is critical for their effectiveness. Intensified cyclones, sea level rise, and ocean acidification also damages and hinder reef growth.
Among the study’s fascinating findings is the recording of an astounding 300 fish species on Anantara Kihavah’s house reef, proving its status as the best for snorkelling, where guests can encounter different species every time they enter the water. The study also includes a comprehensive fish index, indicating the areas around the island where these species are found.
Another captivating aspect is that as many as 160 of these species can be observed from the resort’s SEA Underwater Restaurant in a single day, providing non-divers with a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the mesmerising fish and coral sights. With different fish species being most active at various times throughout the day, diners are treated to an ever-changing display through the restaurant’s windows, making dining at SEA an unforgettable bucket list experience.
The publication also features the reef’s renowned Yellow Wall, a major attraction for divers and a contributing factor in making the reef a sought-after destination for diving enthusiasts in the region. Beyond the resort’s shores, the Baa Atoll offers countless world-class dive sites, and the chance to swim with manta rays in Hanifaru Bay is a must-try, once-in-a lifetime experience.
By showcasing the beauty and fragility of Anantara Kihavah’s house reef, “Wonders of Kihavah” aims to inspire budding conservationists and serve as an inspiration for ongoing marine conservation efforts, emphasising the need to protect the wonders of Kihavah and other reefs around the world for generations to come.
Anantara Kihavah offers a complimentary e-version of the publication for download on their website, while physical copies are exclusively provided for guests during their villa stay. Take-home copies are available for purchase at the resort, with a portion of the proceeds allocated to Anantara’s ‘Dollar for Deeds’ programme, with the resort matching each donation to support marine and coastal protection, environmental education, and community welfare.