We stayed in contact with Chiara and it was a great pleasure to see her again this year, as well as meeting Lisa - the marine biologist intern at Bodu Hithi (http://www.cocoboduhithi.com/). The whole family had been looking forward to this holiday for a long time and the week far surpassed our expectations!
The coral reef around the island is amazing - and what is even more amazing is the effort put into rebuilding it. Corals are living animals and as such they need a particular environment to thrive. Unfortunately, parts of the reef easily break when careless swimmers and snorkelers connect with them. One of the things the marine biologists there have done is to have scrap metal structures sunk into spots where the reef has died and then tied pieces of broken - but still alive - coral to them. My son did this in 2013 and we had the great pleasure of seeing the massive growth of "his" coral over the past 2 years, photos courtesy of Chiara Fumagalli:
I can't begin to explain what it feels like to be in the water next to these magnificent creatures. With some of them reaching 5 meters wingspan they are gentle giants that glide effortlessly through the ocean and it is a privilege to get so close to them. As they swim around the cleaning station with little cleaner fish nibbling away at them you can get a good look right at them and you really notice them looking back at you through intelligent eyes.