Milaidhoo Maldives identifies six new hawksbill turtles
Milaidhoo Maldives has identified and named six new hawksbill turtles which are long-term residents of the reefs surrounding the island resort.
The newly identified hawksbill turtles have been named Crusty, Flori, Madhiri, Sam, Sirena and Swimerette.
Hawksbill turtles are located worldwide, and are easily distinguished from other sea turtles by their sharp curving beak and serrated edge to the rear of their shell. Like all sea turtles, they spend the first 20 or so years of their life in the open ocean feeding predominantly on jellyfish. Therefore, when they come to live in coral reef habitat, they change their diet and start feeding on sponges, algae, coral, and small crustaceans instead.
Hawksbill turtles play a key role in the coral reef ecosystem. There are few animals that eat the fast-growing sponges due to the toxins in their tissue; therefore they allow coral and other species to colonise and grow in the gaps they create. This maintains diversity throughout the reef ecosystem.
Hawksbill turtles are listed as Critically Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This is partly due to their shell being used for thousands of years for decoration purposes, but in the 1900s their population was estimated to drop by 80 percent. As air breathing reptiles, turtles are at great risk of drowning in fishing gear. In addition to this, with jellyfish as their main food source in the open ocean, plastic pollution is a major problem.
They are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but much is still needed to conserve populations of hawksbill turtles.
Several efforts are being made throughout the Maldives to protect its turtle population. Many resorts have teamed up with the Olive Ridley Project, which runs a nationwide database that tracks the sightings of different species of turtles across the archipelago.
Located in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa atoll, Milaidhoo, the latest resort by pioneers of Maldives tourism Universal Resorts, can be reached by a 30-minute seaplane flight.
Perfect for nature lovers as its own coral reef, which encircles the island, is a protected area and noted as an outstanding snorkelling and diving site in its own right. The tiny beautiful island, abundant with tropical greenery, measures just 300 by 180m and is fringed by soft deep white sand beaches.
Milaidhoo offers 50 villas made using materials and fittings custom-made for Milaidhoo in a way that epitomises the true contemporary Maldives style. Standing on stilts over the lagoon are 30 spacious overwater villas (245 square metres) and hidden amongst the tropical greenery are 20 serene villas on the beach (290 square metres). All villas have large private freshwater swimming pools and an island host to attend to the guests’ every whim.
The Small Luxury Hotels of the World member resort offers three restaurants and two bars, with the signature restaurant built overwater and shaped like three traditional Maldivian sailing boats. It – unique in the Maldives – serves modern interpretation of island-influenced cuisine.