Maldives is home to some of the most enchanted coral reefs in the world, with its crystal clear waters and exotic wildlife. However, since 2014 this tropical paradise has been struck by severe coral bleaching, affecting between 60 percent and 90 percent of its coral, depending on the area.
Now, travelers can help restore them by supporting coral replanting programs. National Geographic Explorer Paola Rodríguez-Troncoso has worked on a Mexican program that sustainably replanted more than 6,000 coral fragments over six years.
Divers collect fragments from the ocean floor that have been knocked off reefs by storms or waves. Then they tether healthy pieces to the bedrocks of reefs at the same or nearby sites.
Resorts and conservation groups are starting to educate and involve visitors in these efforts. To avoid programs that may do more harm than good, Rodríguez-Troncoso cautions against any program that purposely break off fragments from healthy corals or fail to get the required permits.