Six Senses Laamu organises second Laamu Turtle Festival

Building upon the success of the first ever inter-island Turtle Festival in Laamu atoll in 2016, the entire community recently came together for the second Laamu Turtle Festival.

The event took place on the local island of Gan, and was jointly organised by the Gan Island Council, Laamu Atoll Police Department and Six Senses Laamu. This year’s theme was once again Turtles in Laamu – Safe and Protected, aiming to raise awareness about the importance of sea turtles and providing a platform for community engagement about greater marine conservation.

The festival brought together one resort, two NGOs, three local businesses, four government agencies, 10 island councils, 12 schools, and upwards of 1,000 people to pledge Turtles in Laamu – Safe and Protected.

All seven species of sea turtles are on the endangered species list, mostly due to human pressures such as harmful fishing practices and plastic pollution. Laamu atoll is lucky to have large populations of both green and hawksbill turtles. However, poaching of turtles and their nests still occurs, and it was agreed that everyone in the community needs to stop this practice from happening.

President of the Gan Island Council Shiyam Ahmed, and Laamu Atoll Police Commander Sultan Bishar welcomed everyone to the festival and introduced the day’s activities. There were educational stalls and games aiming to raise awareness about these marine animals and why it is critical that people do not harm them. Cultural performances, contests and prizes along with food and music ensured everyone had lots of fun!

The guest of honor at the event was Abdul Gafoor ‘Gabbe’ Ali, who was the first Maldivian to sail around the entire country in a catamaran in an effort to raise awareness about the conservation of marine environment.

During the festival, he emphasised the necessity of improved waste management, saying, “If we want to protect turtles, the first thing we need to do is protect their habitat. When I sailed across the Maldives I saw a lot of trash in our beautiful ocean. In Kureli Kandu, the channel between Laamu and Meemu atolls, I capsized my catamaran and had to be in the water for four hours. There were so many plastic bags, bottles and caps in the sea, I almost cried. It is our duty to reduce our waste to protect our marine habitats and save our marine life.”

To ensure that the festival’s important messages are conveyed every day of the year, the Blue Marine Foundation team painted their fourth wall mural in Laamu, and called on all attendees to pledge their protection of turtles by signing it and recording a video pledge. Now, every time someone passes by the festival site, they will see the wall full of reminders that turtles in Laamu are safe and protected.

Marteyne van Well, General Manager of Six Senses Laamu added, “Last year in Maavah, the festival was such a great success that it wasn’t a question of whether we could hold another one, but more of a question of when we could hold it. Our aim is to, year on year, increase our positive impact in Laamu and maintain efforts as a community to protect turtles. Last year, students from five schools in Laamu attended the event and today we have students from 12 of the 13 schools, so clearly we have achieved our goal.”

Six Senses Laamu is the only resort located in the Laamu atoll, which lies in the southern part of the Maldives. Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the resort prides itself on its commitment to sustainable operations and development as outlined by Agenda 21 and Green Globe Benchmarking.

At Six Senses Laamu, most of the villas and facilities are built overwater. However, beach villas and on-land dining is an option. All villas offer a sense of privacy and seclusion, with an amazing view to the Ocean and Maldivian nature.

Six Senses Laamu offers a wide range of dining options, with cuisines from around the world, a swimming pool with a sunken bar, an ice cream parlour, an overwater wine cellar and a signature Chill bar. Many activities, excursions and options are available for everyone to enjoy, both overwater and underwater, in addition to the Six Senses Spa.

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