As World Ocean’s Day 2020 on June 8 approaches, Seaside Finolhu’s conservation initiatives highlight the Maldivian resort’s intention to make a positive impact on the world around us – in particular, the oceans.
The resort, which is located in Baa Atoll and has just become the first member of Design Hotels in the Maldives, has a resident Marine Biologist who, along with his team of ocean experts, leads a number of the onsite conservation initiatives. Many of these initiatives welcome guests to explore the ocean and even participate in research activities to discover the key features that make up the Atoll’s complex eco-system and why it is so important to protect it.
Ocean Clean-Up Projects
Seaside Finolhu regularly participates in island cleanup projects on the local island of Hithaadhoo, involving resort staff, guests, and the local community. Located two islands west of Finolhu, Hithaadhoo is home to many of the resort’s staff. Seaside Finolhu’s regular snorkel and dive excursions along the island’s reefs engage both guests and staff. In doing so, they help to preserve the island for future generations and educate the local community on the importance of the unique surrounding waters, proper waste disposal methods and sustainability.
During these trips, any turtles or other marine animals that are identified as injured or in distress will be rescued, attended to, and released. Cleanups also take place on some uninhabited islands around Baa Atoll including Kudadhoo, Ohlugiri, and Hanifaru.
Environmental Festivals and Research
Seaside Finolhu showcases the diverse marine life of Baa Atoll (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) by supporting various environmental festivals throughout the year such as the Vaavoshi Turtle Festival on Hithaadhoo and the Baa Atoll Manta Festival on Eydhafushi.
These festivals (organized by Olive Ridley Project and Manta Trust respectively), aim to celebrate the marine life that contributes to making Baa Atoll a biosphere reserve and one of the best places on earth for marine life. Part of the resort’s contribution to these festivals involves transporting local students from Hithaadhoo and taking them on snorkel trips to educate them on the importance of conserving the unique marine habitats.
Seaside Finolhu’s Citizen Science Programs allow guests to assist with collecting research for environmental organizations throughout Baa Atoll. Individual turtles can be identified by unique scale patterns on their heads, manta rays by the spot patterns between their gills, and whale sharks by the spot patterns behind their pectoral fins.
Monthly sighting records of these animals are collected by the resort and sent to the Olive Ridley Project, Turtle Watch, Manta Trust, and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme. These organizations can then use this data to determine habitat distribution, population statistics, feeding and mating patterns, and so much more.
Seaside Finolhu is in the beginning stages of developing a coral restoration project, by placing broken coral fragments on a framework in the shallow waters of the lagoon. Once these corals have developed and grown larger, they will be transplanted to the reefs accessible from the resort. It is hoped that this will help to combat the growing problem of coral bleaching in the Maldives and generate a beautiful, healthy reef for both the marine life and guests, to enjoy.
Partnering with Parley for the Oceans
Seaside Finolhu partners with Parley for the Oceans to mitigate the effects of plastic pollution on the oceans. All plastic that enters the resort goes through a segregation process that separates each piece based on the type of plastic (PET, HDPE, and PP) and is then transferred back to the Parley headquarters in Male. Once there, the plastic is shipped to the Adidas factory in Taiwan where it is redesigned into functional pieces of equipment such as shoes and clothes.
Parley strives to implement an AIR strategy in which they want to avoid plastic entering the seas, they want to Intercept this plastic if it is already there, and they want to Redesign it to close the sustainability loop.
The resort also aims to reduce consumption of single-use plastic through reusable glass bottles and biodegradable straws as well as by using refillable dispenser bottles in bathrooms.
Visitors to Seaside Finolhu embarking upon scuba dives through the resort’s Oceanic Center are accompanied by an experienced Dive Butler who will not only showcase the best of what the surrounding waters have to offer but also teach guests about the marine life along the way. Find out more about Seaside Finolhu’s ocean adventures here.
About Baa Atoll
In 2011 the United Nations designated the Baa Atoll as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because of the abundance of unique marine life found there. One of the core areas of this Biosphere Reserve is Hanifaru Bay. During the rainy season of May – November, the bay becomes a feeding ground for manta rays and whale sharks, circling the bay while they filter feed.
The Maldives has the largest number of manta ray sightings across the world, and Baa Atoll is a leader in this regard, making Seaside Finolhu an ideal place to see these gentle giants up close in their natural environment.
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