LUX* South Ari Atoll hosts marine conservation workshop on microplastics

LUX* South Ari Atoll has hosted a marine conservation workshop highlighting the continuous battle against microplastics.

Last week, LUX* South Ari Atoll hosted the workshop, ‘Microplastics a macro disaster: a threat to the largest fish in our seas?’ led by a team of scientists; Giulia Donati from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and Alina Wieczorek from NUI Galway, in close collaboration with Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme.

Marine biologists and managers from neighbouring resorts, dive centres and local guest houses all attended the half-day workshop in order to investigate the exposure of whale sharks to microplastics and to exchange further insights and knowledge on the continuous challenges of marine litter within the region.

Recently, it has been found that microplastics accumulate in the Indian Ocean in high numbers. Microplastics, defined as any plastic particle less than five millimetres in size, have become a pollutant of increasing global concern.

In South Ari Atoll, it is believed that endangered whale sharks are likely to be exposed to microplastics when thermoregulating in shallow surface waters, or through transfer from their planktonic prey; most of which are known to ingest microplastics. It has been shown that microplastics can have negative impacts on the fitness of other fish species and it is therefore important to evaluate this threat to whale sharks as well.

The group of scientists have identified a non-invasive method of investigating microplastics ingestion in whale sharks by looking at their faeces. Since 2015, eight faecal samples have successfully been collected in collaboration with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme and analysis of these samples has found that whale sharks are indeed ingesting microplastics. This project is a unique opportunity to conduct research on whale sharks, which are regarded as an ‘umbrella’ species for marine conservation. By understanding how microplastics are effecting the largest fish in the sea, we can work to educate people and raise awareness of the impacts of marine litter in our oceans.

“The workshop was a great way to bring people together from local islands, resorts and guest houses in order to learn about and discuss the threat that plastic pollution poses to our whale sharks. The results from this investigation so far clearly prove that the sharks are ingesting plastic pollutants and we must now do all we can to help prevent the flow of plastic waste into our oceans, not only for our whale sharks but for our planet,” Mark McMillan, Marine Biologist at LUX* South Ari Atoll, said.

Cutting-edge designer villas and world-class dining can be found only a 30-minute seaplane flight away from the main Velana International Airport, making LUX* South Ari Atoll one of the most exciting resorts in the Maldives.

With 193 private villas dotted at the water’s edge along four kilometres of powder fine beach or perched on stilts above a crystal clear lagoon, these spacious pavilions and villas bring an entirely original vibe of coastal, beach house chic to the Maldives.

Excellent eating and drinking is always a cut above the rest at LUX*, and at LUX* South Ari Atoll, there is authentic South East Asian street food in the Maldives’ only over-the-water gourmet night market and world-class Chinese cuisine at East, along with the Japanese restaurant Umami, which offers live teppanyaki and dazzling selection of sakés.

While the resort has a PADI-certified dive centre, two infinity pools, a floodlit tennis court, a fitness centre and a renowned spa which hosts a wellness concierge and a menu of indulgent treatments, what sets the property apart from its neighbours are surprises, or better known as #ReasonstogoLUX. Designed to create lasting memories for guests, these ‘reasons’ can range from island-roasted coffee in Café LUX* to impromptu movie screenings at cinema paradise and the chance to hang your wishes on the Tree of Wishes.

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