SEA OF HOPE
The poet W.H. Auden once said, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” Yet, our waters are under severe threats. The oceans are losing even more oxygen than we had previously thought. Coral reefs, often referred to as rainforests of the sea, are dying because of global warming. And in the last 40 years alone, we have depleted close to half of all marine life populations.
Thankfully, the situation is not entirely hopeless. If each and every one of us does our part, we can still save the oceans. In the Maldives, for example, eco-luxury resort Gili Lankanfushi Maldives’s marine biologists and guests are working hand in hand with the Manta Trust to identify individual manta rays through photo-identification.
Much like our fingerprints, every manta ray has its own unique spotted pattern on its white belly. By photo-identifying these black spots, researchers and conservationists are then able to track each individual manta ray, and the data is used to study their population size, migratory routes, reproductive output and areas of critical habitats. In the long run, this helps to develop effective conservation strategies to better protect this vulnerable species.
Besides working with the Manta Trust, Gili Lankanfushi also takes part in the Olive Ridley Project to help turtles trapped in ghost nets. Ghost nets are commercial fishing nets that have been lost, abandoned, or discarded in the ocean by irresponsible fishermen.
These nets, often nearly invisible in dim light, can pose as a real danger to turtles which get entangled in them. The marine biology team at Gili Lankanfushi not only helps to free these turtles but also collects information such as the size, material, and construction of the nets so as to track down the perpetrators.
In a bid to save the corals, Gili Lankanfushi became the first resort in the Maldives to successfully embark on a Coral Lines Project. The team has taken a zero-tolerance stance towards the consumption of single-use plastics.
These efforts and more are all part of Gili Lankanfushi’s Social and Environmental Awareness and Sustainability policy, aptly abbreviated as Gili SEAS. It speaks of the resort’s commitment to protect the environment, from the way the business is operated, to the purchasing of local and fair trade products, to how waste is managed and disposed of.
The ocean remains a place of boundless discoveries. It is the source of food, minerals and energy. It gives us the oxygen that we breathe and shapes the world we call home. It could even hold the cure for life-threatening diseases. There is so much we have yet to discover, and so much we have to protect. As the eminent oceanographer, Dr. Sylvia Earle puts it, “Health to the ocean means health for us… No water, no life. No blue, no green.”
Visit Gili Lankanfushi’s Marine Biology Blog to discover more about marine biodiversity, as well as the many initiatives the resort has with their resident marine biologists to protect Mother Nature and give back to the local community.
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