The clear waters off Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort have become home tonumerous fish species, after the introduction of 35 man-made reef structures,which were deployed as part of an international project to rehabilitate theworld's ocean reef ecosystems and to protect the natural reef systems.
The extensive project began in June 2009 with 14 reefs and today was inspectedby divers from Al Boom Diving and volunteers from the resort. To date, more thanAED 100,000 has been invested in the project, going towards importing the reefblock structure moulds, fabrication, transport, deployment, and relatedactivities. Al Boom divers, assisted by staff from the resort, have also donatedtheir time.
"This project reflects our dedication to the research into aquatic life on theEast Coast and is a key platform to our environmental program," said PatrickAntaki, General Manager, Le Méridien Al Aqah.
"The effects are already visible and we are laying the foundation to sustainmarine life for future generations. The artificial reef is already a viable fishreef. All of the needed plankton and plant life is growing on the reef and intime we hope to see signs of corals," added Antaki.
The reef block structures are artificial reef modules placed in the ocean toform reef habitat. They take about five years to mature. Under Al Boom'sproject, they have been placed several hundred meters away from the privatebeach at Le Méridien Al Aqah to create a house reef. Al Boom provided two divespeedboats to go diving on the Al Aqah Reef today, offering visitors freesnorkelling.
"Diving is a great recreational activity, but it must go further in order tofoster understanding of the importance of protecting the delicate marineenvironment. Al Boom Diving is involved with several scientific initiatives andthe success of the reef block structure project could not have been achievedwithout the support of Le Méridien Al Aqah," said Simon Tambling, ManagingPartner, Al Boom Diving.
The 35 structures have been donated by various organizations including FujairahMunicipality; Eco, a recycle plastic company in Jebel Ali; and FNCT and SIJICement companies. Other project sponsors include Rip Curl, Lootah Group, andProject Aware.
Al Boom Diving presented the reef block structure project at the DubaiInternational Boat Show in April 2009. The complex project involves moving thereef block structures, which each weigh 500kg to 2.5 tonnes, by crane to thewater where they are placed on lift bags and floated into the ocean by boats.