Six Senses Zighy Bay, located on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, is celebrating the success of its first coral restoration programme, which aims to replenish the property’s house reef back to its full potential.
The two-year project began in January this year, with a process in which coral fragments collected by the resort’s dive centre from nearby diving sites were attached to 10 metal frames in the sea, which six months on, are flourishing and exhibiting robust growth. Around 50 coral fragments were added to each of the frames, which were made by the resort’s engineering team from recycled construction material.
The ultimate goal of this venture is to re-introduce the two main coral species previously present on the reef known as Acropora and Pocillopora, to group the coral fragments together for a higher chance of survival, and wait until they reach maturity, spawn and repopulate the entire reef.
The team leading the mission have encouraged 57 hotel guests and hosts and 25 members of the Environment Authority to take part in this exciting project, in which 522 coral fragments from local dive sites were attached to steel frames placed around the reef and left to grow.
Davide Panarese, Six Senses Zighy Bay’s full time Marine Biologist said, “Over the coming months, the coral will continue to be cared for and with careful monitoring of the site, it is hoped the reef will continue to flourish. September results, part of our monthly monitoring of the coral health, show significant growth, a promising sign that the corals have adapted and are thriving in their new environment. A noteworthy sight around the first frames is the vibrant presence of numerous fish, which have taken to swimming in their vicinity.”
The project is just one of the many sustainability-driven activities happening at the Six Senses Zighy Bay whose core DNA is centred around celebrating and protecting the sea, and wider environment.
The dedicated marine biologist based at the property also manages the resident turtle populations within Zighy Bay, helping preserve their precious habitat. Together with the resort Sustainability Team, they also work closely with the local fishermen to remove nets and monitor bycatch, with the aim to raise awareness on more sustainable fishing practices. As a result, so far in 2023, 80 rays and 11 sea turtles were successfully released from fishermen nets. In 2022, the largest underwater clean-ups in the region were organized by the resort in which five boats equipped with 20 divers managed to remove 3.7 tons of ghost nets from the ocean.
The resort is making headway with a number of other green initiatives. In 2022 Six Senses Zighy Bay launched Waste into Wealth, a pledge to continue to decrease plastic usage and operate in a ‘self-sustaining’ manner to ensure minimal impact on the environment. Part of this was the Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle process, which achieved a 60% reduction in plastic across the resort, as well as reduced electricity and water usage by almost a third.
Meanwhile, the resort’s Sustainable Purchasing Programme ensures that suppliers have Sustainable Certifications and encourages them to commit to a zero-waste approach. This has encouraged several tangible changes to be implemented, such distributors updating their logistics packaging to replace Styrofoam with reusable cool boxes.
New waste segregating facilities allowed 36% of total waste to be diverted from landfill in 2022 which was instead tuned into compost, with bread waste now being utilised to feed the Zighy goats (who are also supported via partnerships with farms, in which the resort provides vitamins and medicines to the animals, to support the livelihoods of local farmers).
The resort also recycles glass, candles, soap, paper, and metal, and guests are also invited to do their bit by offsetting the carbon footprint for scope 1 and 2 emissions following GHG protocol of a night’s stay, with a third-party offsetting company.
An Organic Farm based on the site is also central to sustainability efforts, producing its own free range organic eggs, fruits, vegetables, and goat milk turned into homemade cheese, and allowing manure to be turned into organic compost, as part of a pledge to remove 100% of industrial fertilisers and pesticides.
Six Senses Zighy Bay’s sustainable activities also extend into the surrounding communities, with projects to empower and educate local women, and encourage entrepreneurship. For example, hotel guests can join unique hand-crafting activity sessions with the Dibba Women Association, with all profits donated to the association. The resort also initiated the Sustainable Training Programme with the Dibba School of Girls, where managers of the school selected different sustainable programmes to be taught once a week by Six Senses Zighy Bay’s Assistant Sustainability Manager. This programme will be amplified in 2023 with the Resort hiring a local teacher to provide English classes and new sustainable workshops for 372 local girls from the Dibba School of Girls four days per week, thus participating in improving the access to education for young women in the region.
Looking ahead, Six Senses Zighy Bay will continue to spearhead projects across the site and in wider communities and support the wider Oman Vision 2040 by planting trees around Musandam areas, as well as focus on fisherman livelihoods and sustainable fishing practices, all whilst continuing to nurture the regrowing coral in the bay.