Olive Ridley Project seeks volunteers for Maldives turtle research expedition

The Olive Ridley Project (ORP) is looking for veterinary volunteers “hungry for adventure” to participate in its Sea Turtle Research Expedition project in the Maldives.

Research volunteers will spend four weeks on an expedition in the northern Haa Alif atoll searching for and collecting data on sea turtles, which will inform the TurtleWatch Maldives programme.

A charity spokesman said the lack of data in the Haa Alif atoll region is what scientists call a ‘black hole’. ORP wants to fill that gap in order to accurately interpret sea turtle population and movements in the Maldives, he added.

“We have had reports of manta ray sightings in the area and, during our pilot surveys, we saw lots of dolphins, sharks and stingrays, in addition to turtles,” the spokesman said.

“Due it its remote location, Haa Alif atoll has very few resources to conduct dedicated sea turtle research or run marine conservation projects. Part of the ORP’s charitable objective is to advance the knowledge on sea turtle habitats and their threats.”

Participants are asked to make a donation of USD 2,995 to help the charity sustain its research and cover expenses. The donation covers:

  • Return domestic flights and boat transfers from Male to Kelaa island in Haa Alif atoll
  • Accommodation
  • All meals for the duration of the stay

Established in 2013, the UK-based ORP aims to actively fight ghost nets in the Indian Ocean, by physically removing ghost nets, promoting recycling of end-of-life fishing nets, offering marine and turtle conservation education programmes, carrying out research, and providing appropriate care, protection, treatment and security for turtles found entangled and injured. The charity operates a Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in the Maldives’ Baa atoll, and run one of the largest sea turtle photo-ID databases in the world.

ORP often partners with local resorts to conduct turtle excursions for tourists visiting the island nation.

Known internationally as one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations, the Maldives has an abundance of dive sites with one thrilling dive opportunity after another. The islands of the Maldives have consistently warm waters with outstanding visibility throughout the year, and consist of exhilarating dive sites such as vibrant thilas, exciting channels, coral-filled overhangs and fascinating wrecks.

Sea turtles play a key role in the coral reef ecosystem, a defining characteristic of the Maldives natural beauty.

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