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Tsunami survey expedition: preliminary investigation of Maldivian coral reefs two weeks after the event

, : Tsunami survey expedition: preliminary investigation of Maldivian coral reefs two weeks after the event. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 131(1-3): 95-105

On December 26th 2004, a earthquake west of Sumatra generated a devastating tsunami. Hundreds of thousands of people fell victim. Economic losses were greatest in those countries dependant on tourism. The impact in the Maldives on persons and things was modest. Immediately following the event and notwithstanding the lack of scientific data, the mass media gave catastrophic reports on the state of coral reefs in the area. This paper reports on the first survey on coral reefs in the Maldives after the Tsunami. Ocean walls, passes, inner reefs, and shoals in the North and South Malcb atolls, were surveyed two weeks after the event. Significant damage was recorded in the passes in the South Malcb atoll. Our observations showed that the damage was more or less extensive depending on latitude and topography. Sri Lanka may have broken the wave's rush, reducing the extent of the impact on northern atolls. The water's acceleration inside the passes was so intense as to cause reef collapses. The observed damage represents a minimum fraction of the entire coral reef system. Tourist perception of the area seems unchanged. These data may be used to disseminate correct information about the state of Maldives coral reefs, which would be useful in relaunching local economy.


PMID: 17180420

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-006-9459-3

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