It may sound like a monumental task to help save The Maldives, but there are indeed multiple ways you can help preserve the country’s delicate ecosystem while on your next vacation. These are three unique conservation experiences
to get your hands on.
The Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with the entire 26–atoll, 1,190–island archipelago averaging only one meter above sea level. Many scientists have predicted that this already dangerously low elevation will dwindle even further in the next few decades as global warming continues to wreak havoc on Mother Nature.
In more imminent danger is the wide array of sea life that calls the waters of this Indian Ocean nation home. Global warming, which causes the bleaching of coral, is one of the major factors endangering sea life in The Maldives today. Coral bleaching happens when water temperatures rise too high, forcing it to expel the colorful algae within, and causing it to turn white. Since the algae within the coral is what marine life feeds on, once coral is bleached, reefs can turn into veritable ghost towns and fish, crustaceans and other creatures either die or flee the area in search of food, causing a breakdown in the ecosystem.
Since coral reefs provide a marine habitat critical to undersea life in The Maldives, protecting them plays a leading role in preserving the area’s ecosystem. Headed by Chief Scientist Dr. Andrew Bruckner, Coral Reef CPR (Conservation, Protection, and Restoration) is an organization that works with Maldivian resorts and local communities in a concerted effort to conserve the nation’s coral reefs.
Dive enthusiasts can join a Carpe Diem Maldives luxury liveaboard cruise for the company’s Rescue a Reef initiative in partnership with Coral Reef CPR. Join Dr. Bruckner and his team of researchers in the remote reefs of the Raa Atoll, where you’ll remove dangerous reef-demolishing starfish, and conduct surveys to monitor the health of the reef.
For those who prefer to sleep on dry land, you can participate in the reef preserving party at Anantara Dhigu Resort in the South Malé Atoll. Surrounded by a vibrant turquoise lagoon, the region is a haven for snorkeling and diving due to the dynamic reef sitting just below the surface of the sparkling crystal-clear waters.
Also in partnership with Coral Reef CPR, guests at Anantara Dhigu can engage in a coral adoption program. Led by a marine biologist, you’ll wade or snorkel out to the shallow waters of the lagoon, and transplant coral onto a plastic frame. Once it has been attached, the marine biologist will plant the frame in a coral nursery within the lagoon, where it can regenerate and help rebuild the health of the reef. Once home, guests can monitor their adopted patch of coral online.
Farther north lies the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that supports one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, and is renowned for its populations of marine turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The eco-chic Soneva Fushi resort offers visitors the chance to participate in wildlife conservation programs with their marine biologists.
Instead of lounging by the pool, sipping fruity drinks and getting massages all day, help Soneva Fushi’s marine biologist with turtle, shark and manta ray identification programs to help track population numbers, or join a beach and reef clean up to help reduce marine debris, and help prevent injuries to fish and turtles. Good things come to those who give back: guests who participate in the resort’s Stay For Good program during their first five nights get five additional nights at the resort free of charge.
Also in the Baa Atoll is the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. In partnership with the Maldivian Manta Ray Project, you’ll learn how to spot the ethereal creatures, then how to record information and take identification photos, which are all essential components of manta ray conservation.
A vacation in The Maldives doesn’t have to be all work and no play, but chances are you’ll enjoy your poolside piña colada a little bit more if you’ve spent the morning doing your part to conserve this beautiful island nation.