About this episode:
In this episode, David speaks to members of the Maldives Underwater Initiative based at the Six Senses resort in Laamu Atoll. The initiative includes members of The Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, The Olive Ridley Project and other marine specialists. The team have a shared vision for preserving the marine environment in the Maldives and beyond, and have been monitoring the health of the reefs there since 2012. Their research and conservation work includes nurturing seagrass, turtles, manta rays, dolphins and sharks, as well as various education and community outreach initiatives, all whilst working in close proximity with the local tourism industry. In these often humourous exchanges, they discuss changing public perception towards swimming in the ocean, the impact of fisheries, argue that biodegradable plastics are merely a “step in the right direction”, and David witnesses first hand the devastating impact of ghost nets on the olive ridley turtles.
Where to start? Well – the people you hear in this episode, in chronological order, are:
Megan O’Beirne – Six Senses’ Sustainability Manager
Maeesha Mohamed – Manta Trust
Nicole Pelletier – Manta Trust
Jo Goodfellow – Olive Ridley Project
Pip Roe – Coral Specialist
Vivienne Evans – Blue Marine Foundation
Shaha Hasim – Blue Marine Foundation
And the legend that is; Hasan Hameez – Dive Master extraordinaire for the Six Senses on Laamu Atoll.
And they’re all wonderful human beings! They live and work in a part of the world for which “Paradise” is not an exaggeration. Full disclosure – I find it hard to justify the carbon I burned to get there; but I can’t say I regret it. I can only put down in writing that I believe a carbon tax, and a frequent flyer tax are almost certainly mandatory in trying to move our planet into a greener future. If we cared more for our world, perhaps we’d put all of these new friends of mine out of work!
I had a truly fantastic time. The fact there was a “man with the microphone and a Manta obsession” became a bit of a joke on the island. It was perhaps fitting therefore that an actual Manta sighting alluded me until my final day’s diving. But I had this podcast to keep me busy in the meantime. Many of the guests must have thought I was mad.
I hope this episode speaks for itself. That it shows the wonder of our oceans, the threats to our oceans, and a small cross section of the kind of people trying to make them better. The balance between conservation and tourism is a fine one. If people need to be driven by self-interest to make our world healthier, then perhaps eco-tourism should be embraced – but that’s not in any way to say that it isn’t without risks.
Nicole and me, following my long overdue Manta sighting.
MALDIVES UNDERWATER INITIATIVE – https://m.facebook.com/MaldivesUnderwaterInitiative/
MANTA TRUST – https://www.mantatrust.org/
OLIVE RIDLEY PROJECT – https://oliveridleyproject.org/
BLUE MARINE FOUNDATION – https://www.bluemarinefoundation.com/
SIX SENSES, LAAMU ATOLL – https://www.sixsenses.com/resorts/laamu/destination