The Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) is to hold a webinar in honor of World Seagrass Day on 27 February 2021.
The Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) is a multiple award-winning marine conservation initiative based at Six Senses Laamu, a 5-star resort in the Maldives. MUI consists of staff from the resort, as well as its three partner NGOs: The Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and The Olive Ridley Project, all of whom work together to reach research, guest education and community outreach goals. The Head Marine Biologist of Six Senses Laamu, Phillipa Roe, and the Maldives Project Manager of the Blue Marine Foundation, Shaha Hashim, will be joining the webinar.
One of the most valuable ecosystems on the planet, seagrass, is being deliberately removed so as to maintain the white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters prized by the tourism industry in the Maldives. Seagrass meadows are a vital habitat for the Maldives but unfortunately they are poorly understood. They help fight climate change because, like plants on land, they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Seagrass meadows also provide habitat, shelter and food for numerous organisms, but are often found adjacent to coral reefs where they help prevent coral diseases by trapping nutrients and pollutants from reaching corals. Crucially, they protect Maldivian islands from erosion by reducing wave energy. Conserving these ecosystems benefits tourism because essential feeding grounds for charismatic species that tourists travel to the Maldives to see like endangered green sea turtles and juvenile sharks and rays.
Despite this, seagrass meadows are actively removed from the lagoons of resort islands to maintain the ‘picturesque’ turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches that the Maldives is known for. Contrary to popular belief among the tourism industry, MUI believes seagrass can provide positive experiences like snorkelling with feeding green sea turtles or adding to the diverse shades of blue in the lagoon. MUI has since collected evidence from Six Senses Laamu that proves just that- snorkeling amongst the seagrass meadows are a highlight of a lot of guest’s stay.
The marine biology team based at Six Senses Laamu started in 2011 with just one full-time marine biologist employed by the resort. As the size and goals of the team grew, the resort sought to bring together the greatest minds in marine conservation to find innovative solutions to Laamu’s most pressing issues.
Since 2011 the Six Senses Laamu marine biology team has grown to a team of over 10, consisting of marine biologists from the resort, as well as hosted staff from three partner NGOs: The Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and The Olive Ridley Project. With such a large resource of experts, research expanded to cover a multitude of topics. In July 2018, as the need to unite these efforts under one banner grew, the Maldives Underwater Initiative was formed.
As the first resort in Laamu Atoll (one of the southern-most of the 26 atolls in the Maldives), Six Senses Laamu takes a great deal of responsibility for the conservation of the marine and terrestrial environment upon which the resort and local community are reliant. Six Senses Laamu works hard to collaborate with, and support, the local community. The resort employs 55% Maldivian staff and works closely with all 13 island councils, the Laamu Atoll Council and all 13,000 residents to achieve shared community development and education goals.
Photo Credit: Six Senses, MUI
For an early #WorldSeagrassDay celebration we are inviting you to a webinar this Saturday. This session is targeted to marine biologists and conservationists in the Maldives who are interested in monitoring and protecting seagrass meadows🌱 More info on our Facebook page pic.twitter.com/5AXaUTqn1Q— Maldives Underwater Initiative (@MUInitiative) February 23, 2021