Gili Lankanfushi opens new marine biology centre

Gili Lankanfushi has opened an innovative new marine biology centre.

Gili Veshi, which translates as Gili Environment in the local Dhivehi language, opened on World Oceans Day, which was celebrated on June 8, becoming the island’s primary marine research facility and the central hub for all sustainability and conservation issues, as well as offering a host of new guest experiences.

In an announcement, the resort said the centre will offer nature lovers the opportunity to get involved through participating in monthly reef clean efforts to remove oceanic litter, coral watch dives to check on new specimens and Crown of Thorns eradication dives to remove the invasive starfish species. Guests can also opt to sponsor the team’s research and conservation efforts, or offset their carbon footprint by planting carbon-sinking seagrass, it added.

The island’s smallest guests will have a wide variety of exciting new experiences and activities tailor-made for them. New educational treasure hunts throughout the island, both on dry land and beneath the waves, will see children seeking out clues about the island’s environment, accompanied by the marine biology team. Fascinating marine movies and interactive iPad will educate children about sustainability and the marine environment, whilst a roster of rainy day activities will keep children happy when the clouds — however rare — roll in.

According to the resort, the Gili Veshi team will monitor all aspects of the island’s reef biodiversity, including sea surface temperature and coral growth, to protect the fragile coral reef environment. They will also roll out a number of conservation initiatives, including planting seagrass to create new feeding grounds for endangered turtle species, it said.

Gili Lankanfushi’s innovative and hugely successful coral lines project — which sees coral fragments suspended in mid water to accelerate growth and reduce predation — was the first of its kind in the Maldives and will be expanded following the opening of Gili Veshi, with the existing coral lines transplanted onto the house reef and monitored as the primary stage of a wider transplantation effort. Further afield, the team will spearhead a new conservation outreach initiative to focus on the local community and schools on nearby Himmafushi Island and the capital Male.

The new marine biology shack will also include a large wet lab to support the team’s ongoing research efforts, and will host visiting researchers and academics from across the globe. Guests will be invited to visit the lab to learn more about the local marine and terrestrial environment, with high tech new microscopes available to allow guests to study local coral specimens through a lens.

Working with the Maldivian government and NGOs including the Manta Trust, the Olive Ridley Turtle Project and Shark Watch, the Gili Veshi team will continually monitor the marine ecosystem and threats to biodiversity including coral bleaching and the onslaught of invasive Crown of Thorn starfish.

Prices for the new guest experiences at Gili Veshi start from USD 100 per person. Select activities, including reef cleaning, marine movies, eco tours, presentations and microscope discovery are offered on a complimentary basis.

Set on the private island of Lankanfushi in the North Male Atoll, Gili Lankanfushi Maldives is an intimate coral island in a sparkling lagoon, with jetties threading across the water out to spacious villa accommodations, where ultimate privacy can be found. This luxury resort is just a 20-minute speedboat ride from the main Velana International Airport.

At Gili Lankanfushi, an idyllic personal hideaway is one of 45 spacious, rustic overwater villas crafted from natural wood and glass. A palette of sparkling blues paints the horizon, the ocean stretching to infinity wherever on the island. The open design, with indoor and outdoor living space, allows guests the freedom to be themselves, the sound of the sea and warm breeze soothing all senses.

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