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Carpe Diem Maldives announces Dive with a Purpose expeditions for 2018

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Carpe Diem Maldives Cruises has announced its 2018 Dive with a Purpose series of hands-on marine expeditions for leisure divers.

The 2018 expeditions build on the success of three marine expeditions in 2017, in partnership with US based research organisation Coral Reef CPR.

“Divers with an avid marine conservation interest should not miss out on this unique opportunity to work alongside expert marine biologists in the 2018 series of Dive with a Purpose expeditions from Carpe Diem Maldives,” a statement issued by Carpe Diem Maldives read.

Taking a concerted approach towards protecting and restoring the health of coral reefs and marine life in the Maldives, three “Rescue a Reef” weeks with experts from Coral Reef CPR will look at addressing issues around reef predators, damage prevention and restoration. These expeditions are an extension of Carpe Diem’s support of the organisation’s Holistic Approach To Reef Protection (HARP) programme. A fourth week has been added to the 2018 Dive with a Purpose programme in partnership with Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP).

On each Dive with A Purpose week, up to 20 recreational divers can join the marine expeditions; divers must have an Advanced PADI qualification, excellent buoyancy control and ideally a minimum of 70 dives.

Priced from USD 1,863 per person for the week, the expeditions include:

  • Seven nights aboard the assigned Carpe Diem Maldives vessel
  • Three meals daily, plus between-dive snacks
  • Three to four dives daily (except for on day of arrival and day before departure)
  • Use of tanks, weights and belts
  • Drinking water, tea and coffee
  • Airport transfers on the days of embarkation/disembarkation
  • Evening workshops on marine ecology, coral reef, marine life and more
  • On-board marine biologists
  • GST 12 percent

Rescue a Reef: Crown of Thorns Starfish Removal with Coral Reef CPR

Expedition dates: May 19 – May 26 / July 15 – July 22 / Sept 8 – Sept 15

Reefs in the Maldives are currently being impacted by the third outbreak of crown of thorns starfish (COTS; Acanthaster spp.) that started in 2014 at the western end of North Male Atoll, near Reethi Rah, and has progressively spread throughout North Male Atoll, South Male Atoll and Ari Atoll, with smaller infestations reported on six other atolls. While normal densities of these starfish are generally not a concern, over 130 localised outbreaks were reported between 2014 and 2017.  Many of these have consisted of thousands of starfish and hundreds of reefs have been completely destroyed as a result of their voracious feeding.

Coral Reef CPR, in partnership with Carpe Diem Maldives, has removed over 10,600 starfish from reefs in the Maldives since 2015.

In the 2018 “Rescue a Reef” expeditions, divers on the trips can expect a hands-on role in eliminating the starfish from badly infested reefs. Divers on board these expeditions will assist the Coral Reef CPR scientists in collecting valuable data on the behaviours of the starfish and their genetic make-up. This will help understand why the outbreaks occur, where they originate from and what we can do to prevent a recurrence.

In addition to the COTS removal from reefs, the team will also visit a number of unique reef environments, including submerged farus and giris to explore the invertebrate life as and also collect valuable data on the diverse and colourful reef fish communities and larger megafauna such as sharks, manta rays and turtles.  During these dives and COTS removal dives, quantitative transects will be conducted to measure the health of the reefs and patterns of recovery following the 2016 bleaching event.

Working in buddy teams to remove the COTS from the reef, divers will be assisting Coral Reef CPR scientists in all aspects of research, including reef assessment surveys, collection of samples, and removal of crown of thorns starfish, cushion stars and coral eating snails. Across each of the one-week trips, divers will be trained in reef conservation methods and survey approaches, and learn about coral reefs and the vibrant and diverse life found on reefs through nightly workshops and discussions.

“Joining these ‘Rescue a Reef’ expeditions will provide divers with an opportunity to be part of a team who are saving thousands of hectares of reef and preventing the potential for future outbreaks,” the statement read.

The Great Megafauna Migration: Track whale sharks, mantas and turtles

Expedition dates: May 26 – June 2

There is a growing school of thought that the Maldivian ‘big three’; whale sharks, manta rays and turtles react to the changes in the monsoon seasons by moving to sites on the leeward side of the atolls. In May 2018, Carpe Novo will become a research platform for biologists from the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme providing them and 20 lucky guests an unprecedented opportunity to explore this phenomenon.

“The goal of this particular Dive with a Purpose expedition is to begin the 2018 southwest season’s data collection, documenting the movements of these iconic yet enigmatic animals,” the statement read.

There are two monsoons in the Maldives, Iruvai as the Maldivians call the northeast monsoon between December and April and Hulhagu, the southwest monsoon from May to November. How quickly these megafauna species transition from sites on the west coasts to sites on the east coast and vice versa is not defined and probably depends on currents and surface weather conditions.

The MWSRP will be setting out on Carpe Novo with the aim of seeking whale sharks, as well as manta rays and sea turtles at differing points amongst the central atolls. Whale sharks, manta rays and turtles will be photo identified, with individuals compared to previous sightings in national level databases to identify movements between locations, both within and between atolls. Equipment will be deployed to gather data on current and surface weather conditions in the hope of gleaning information on how quickly the 2018 season has changed and how the megafauna has reacted to it.

Special attention will be paid to whale sharks which have moved from other atolls, where a fledgling understanding of seasonal cyclic movements can be reinforced by any sightings of 29 individual whale sharks known to be regular inter-atoll travellers.

In areas where whale sharks are prevalent, the MWSRP will explore oceanic conditions in the isolated parts of the atolls where whale sharks are not expected to be sighted through the deployment of temperature and current reading loggers and compare that to data collected in areas where whale sharks would be expected to be seen.

Guests joining this expedition will be offered the opportunity to assist the researchers in the hands on equipment deployment and every data gathering aspect of their work and will be afforded nightly workshops, lectures and discussions on marine life and the leading edge findings from Maldives-specific research on these species.

The Carpe Novo vessel.

Established in 2008, Carpe Diem showcases a collection of three luxury liveaboard cruises, each accommodating 20 guests at a time. Carpe Diem is renowned for delivering a sense of discovery and adventure while enriching guests’ knowledge. The Carpe Diem name has built significant brand recognition within the top echelons of the travel industry for diving and leisure, and is currently developing a resort in the Maldives.

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Join Ifuru Island Maldives’ exhilarating ice, bubbles challenge

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Are You Ready? The Ice & Bubbles Challenge awaits your arrival at Ifuru Island.

Are you ready for the ultimate chill thrill of indulgence and adventure? Then put on your explorer hat and jet off to Ifuru Island for the Ice & Bubbles Challenge! Imagine: you’ll be basking in the breathtaking Maldives scenery while putting your might to the test with a 6-minute polar plunge, clutching a flute of bubbly like a boss. Once you conquer the challenge, you’ll savour the delicious bubbly and feel like a true champion!

Picture yourself lounging poolside, surrounded by swaying palm trees, white sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters, while also pushing your endurance to the limit. And as a badge of honour, guests are gifted with a trendy Ice Bath and Bubbles Challenge t-shirt to flaunt their fearless spirit. The current record for the Ice & Bubbles Challenge is a brave 22 minutes, and we’re daring you to beat it!

Cold-water immersion can speed up your muscle recovery, reduce inflammation, and give you a boost of energy. Plus, you’ll feel like a true hero after conquering the challenge and basking under the warm Maldivian sun.

So, what are you waiting for? Rally your friends and come join us on Ifuru Island Maldives for an unforgettable adventure that’s sure to create magical memories that will last a lifetime!

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Six Senses launches Mermaid Courses in Maldives

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Six Senses Laamu and Six Senses Kanuhura in the Maldives are making waves with the launch of an enchanting underwater experience – PADI Mermaid courses.

Now, guests aged six and above can embark on a magical journey guided by certified PADI scuba dive instructors. Aspiring mermaids and mermen will be equipped with a monofin, a type of swim fin that mimics the movements of dolphins, and colorful fabric tail, mirroring the hues of the ocean. Catering to various ages, interests, and skill levels, both resorts offer a range of courses from discovery to advanced. A professional photographer is available on request to capture personal fairytale-moments.

“We’re thrilled to introduce this fun new experience to our range of underwater offerings,” says Judith Scheibelberger, PADI trainer and resident mermaid expert at Six Senses Laamu, an IHG Hotels & Resorts property. “Our mermaid courses are not only a source of fun and excitement for kids but also invite adults to tap into their imagination and reconnect with their inner child. Beyond the entertainment aspect and capturing Instagram-worthy memories, participants will also gain valuable underwater skills and learn about the awe-inspiring secrets of the sea.”

Mermaid courses join a plethora of underwater experiences available to guests at both Maldivian Six Senses resorts, including snorkeling with turtles, vibrant coral reef explorations, and exhilarating diving adventures. The resorts boasts state-of-the-art dive centers that provide comprehensive services and expert guidance.

For young adventurers, both resorts also offer the PADI Seal Team programme, catering to junior divers aged eight and above. This program allows aspiring divers to explore the underwater world safely, through the five ‘AquaMissions,’ where participants can delve down to four meters, or the introductory PADI Bubblemaker experience, tailored for children aged eight to nine, allowing them to dive down to two meters.

“These experiences not only offer a glimpse into the mesmerising underwater world but also provide an opportunity for young divers to develop their confidence and diving skills while exploring the diversity of Maldivian reefs,” says Anne Hospital, Dive Manager of both resorts.

The brand’s Grow With Six Senses programme offers all of the dimensions of wellness, providing kids with opportunities to reconnect with nature and engage with their surroundings. Through immersive experiences in local culture, wellness, sustainability and social interactions, children spark their curiosity and gain valuable life skills. At the heart of this programme are the dedicated kid’s clubs known as ‘The Den’, which serve as hubs for exploration and discovery.

At Six Senses Laamu and Six Senses Kanuhura, one standout offering is the Mermaid course, which invites children on an underwater adventure amidst stunning turquoise panoramas. On land, the activities are equally diverse, ranging from enlightening garden tours to innovative waste-to-wealth workshops and interactive junior cooking classes. These experiences are designed to provide children with valuable life skills through hands-on play, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching journey for young guests at the resorts.

Prices for the PADI Mermaid Courses start from USD 150 for a 45-minute discovery session. For bookings and further information, please visit sixsenses.com or contact reservations-maldives@sixsenses.com.

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Encounter of majesty: Whale Shark sighting at Vilamendhoo Island Resort

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Measuring an impressive 6.5 meters, a majestic whale shark was recently spotted gliding gracefully through the enthralling house reef of Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa, just beyond the main jetty. This awe-inspiring sight captivated guests, who were fortunate enough to snorkel alongside this magnificent creature. As the whale shark meandered through the crystal-clear waters, guests paused their activities, enchanted by the rare opportunity to witness such a spectacular marine spectacle.

Whale sharks, the gentle giants of the ocean, are renowned for their majestic presence in the azure waters of South Ari Atoll where, Vilamendhoo is located. These magnificent creatures frequent the abundant house reefs of this tropical paradise, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for visitors. Alongside them, graceful manta rays glide effortlessly through the crystal-clear waters, while vibrant coral gardens teem with life beneath the surface. Each encounter with these marine wonders offers a glimpse into the rich biodiversity surrounding the island, captivating the hearts of all who venture into its depths, adding to the allure of this tropical paradise.

“The sighting of the whale shark has evoked an overwhelming wave of positivity among our guests, who have shared their sheer delight at the rare opportunity to encounter such a magnificent creature during their stay. For many, this unexpected marvel has transformed their holiday experience at Vilamendhoo into an unforgettable journey, solidifying our resort’s standing as a premier destination for ocean enthusiasts and nature lovers,” elucidated Mohamed Zahir, General Manager of Vilamendhoo.

Located on a pristine island measuring 900 meters long by 250 meters wide, Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa follows the cherished ‘One Island, One Resort’ concept for which the Maldives is renowned. Surrounded by a spectacular house reef teeming with marine life, guests are invited to explore the underwater wonders just a short swim away from the expansive sandy beaches.

Whether it’s diving into the depths of the ocean or snorkeling amidst vibrant coral gardens, Vilamendhoo offers the quintessential island adventure. The resort’s 184 rooms, each adorned in natural island style, provide the perfect sanctuary for relaxation after days filled with oceanic exploration.

To reach this tropical haven, guests embark on a scenic seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport, enjoying a breathtaking 25-minute flight over the mesmerizing atolls of the Maldives.

In conclusion, the sighting of a whale shark at Vilamendhoo serves as a testament to the unparalleled beauty and biodiversity of the Maldives’ marine environment. As travelers seek meaningful encounters with nature, Vilamendhoo stands ready to welcome them into a world where every moment is filled with wonder and awe.

Discover paradise at Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa in the Maldives. With its pristine beaches, azure waters, and luxurious accommodations, Vilamendhoo offers the perfect retreat for relaxation and oceanic exploration. Nestled in the South Ari Atoll, this resort follows the cherished ‘One Island, One Resort’ concept, providing guests with a true tropical escape. Experience the magic of the Maldives with a scenic 25-minute seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport, and indulge in 184 rooms adorned in natural island style.

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