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News / MET

Tremors caused by developmental works: MET

Nafaahath Ibrahim
17 June 2018, MVT 22:58
A map of Lhaviyani atoll
Nafaahath Ibrahim
17 June 2018, MVT 22:58

Maldives Meteorological Services (MET) stated on Thursday that the recent tremors reported in the atolls of Laamu and Lhaviyani were not earthquakes, but were caused by developmental projects undertaken throughout Maldives.

The meteorological center said that Gan, Kadhdhoo, Fonadhoo and Maandhoo in Laamu Atoll reported the tremors around 11.35 a.m. on June 13.

In May, a mild tremor was also reported in Lhaviyani Atoll. The tremors lasted for about four seconds according to some of the islanders.

Director General of MET office Ali Shareef said that the tremors were too remote to be an earthquake.

He added that the cause of the tremors have not been confirmed.

However, in Maldives, such occurences are usually linked to projects such as dredging and underwater blasting.

Shareef went on to say that the tremors were not believed to be of significant danger.

Scientists and experts, particularly in the field of ocean and coastal management, seem to disagree, albeit on (argueably) different grounds.

Blasting underwater, specially in a vicinity of, or directly on a coral reef, aside from destroying the coral structures itself, experts say also cause physical harm to the marine life that inhabit the area.

As the following exerpt from the Ministry of Tourism's Environmental Guidelines for Tourist Resort Development & Operation in the Maldives (2005) states,

"Fish populations can suffer massive mortality or injury from the use of explosives. Fish and small marine reptiles or mammals with air cavities (bladders, lungs) are more prone to injury from the use of explosives. Organisms above or to the side of explosions are more likely to be injured or killed compared to organisms at greater depths than the explosions. "

Dredging, on other hand, typically involves removing large parts of the seabed and dumping it elsewhere. Such activities can also have a major impact on the ecosystem, particularly sensitive areas such as coral reefs and fish nurseries.

According to researchers from James Cook University, as a result, sediment becomes suspended in the water, smothering seagrasses, which are the key food source of dugongs and sea turtles. It also damages corals by impeding its ability to 'breathe' or 'feed', thereby killing the organisms.

Many environment activists continue to express opinions that mass negative impacts on the marine populations and the coral reef structures in the Maldives, will pose significant ramifications in the near-future, for the country's Tourism and Fishing sectors.