Project status overview
The X-Press Feeders sponsored whaleshark reef was sunk and installed on 15th January 2022 and it has settled and acclimatized well.
The whaleshark is an imposing piece underwater and its beautifully constructed natural curves really give the impression that it is swimming.
It has become the home for damsel fish as well as bluestreak cleaner wrasse. The cleaner wrasse are an important part of the reef ecosystem as they attract larger fish as visitors to their cleaning station, where the wrasse will remove ectoparasites and reduces stress hormones for their ‘guests’. They typically also help to increase the size of resident damsel fish populations, which we are observing.
We expect to be able to transplant some larger corals onto the artificial reef structures in the second quarter of 2022 as well as starting environmental monitoring of the presence of indicator species on the reefs.
The whale shark design is holding up nicely. It’s been partially planted, we are waiting for some larger pieces of corals to develop it further. We did spot a juvenile Arabian angelfish swimming around this structure which was great to see. Commonly acquired for appearing in tanks because of their beautiful colouration, these fish are usually very timid and are prone to stress easily – at this point they aren’t even seen often on Dibba Rock. It’s presence suggests we are succeeding in providing a stable, comfortable environment for further development.
The Indian Dragon Nudibranchs phidiana indica tend to really like the X-Press Feeders Whaleshark structure. Cuttlefish have been spotted in the belly of the whale shark, and stingrays have also been spotted next to this structure using it as a cleaning station. Home to large schools of tiny juvenile fish to the point they envelop the whole top of the structure like a haze, which is a welcome sight as it shows the structure is providing crucial habitat to help build fish populations.
Small 2 meter long Turtle Artificial Reef, designed and built by James Campbell from Freestyle Divers. This was the first sponsored reef to be placed in the new coral garden.
At end-March 2022, the reef is fully colonized with barnacles, sponge and some Acropora branching coral. This reef was a target for the Spring 2022 transplanting of coral from the nursery tables.
At end of March 2022, we have two healthy areas of Acropora branching coral growth on the reef, some of the fragments planted last year on our nursery tables are now large enough for us to transplant onto the reef in the warmer Spring waters to promote faster growth.
At the end of October 2022 we have 6 large coral colonies established on the structure that are naturally bound to the metal frame and well positioned to weather the winter storms. These can be seen in the video below.
During the second quarter of 2022, we will be commencing the roving diver surveys and transect belt line surveys, with the aim of recording substrate, coral growth and indicator species. These will be documented and posted quarterly.
First Quarter Update 2022
Click here to read our summary of the first three months of progress on the artificial reef in 2022.
Second Quarter Update 2022
Click here to read our summary of the second three months of progress on the artificial reef in 2022.
Third Quarter Update 2022
Click here to read our summary of the third three months of progress on the artificial reef in 2022.