Laamu Turtle Festival 2018 brings together local communities to pledge ‘Turtles in Laamu – Safe and Protected’

Local authorities and communities in Laamu atoll came together on Saturday to raise awareness on protecting sea turtles.

The Third Laamu Turtle Festival took place on the local island of Maabaidhoo, and was jointly organised by the Maabaidhoo 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.

Officials from Six Senses Laamu and representatives from the resort’s partner NGOs, including Manta Trust, Olive Ridley Project and Blue Marine Foundation attended the Third Laamu Turtle Festival. More than 1,500 people, including residents from all 11 inhabited islands and students from all 13 schools in Laamu atoll, also came together to pledge ‘Turtles in Laamu – Safe and Protected’.

The guest of honour at the annual event was Zoona Naseem, the first female PADI Course Director in the Maldives. She shared her experience with the attendees in an effort to get more people in the ocean and diving, especially women.

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 there is an urgent need for everyone in the community to join hands to stop this practice from happening.

The day long event witnessed educational stalls and games aiming to raise awareness about these marine animals and why it is critical that people do not harm them. Murals and other art pieces made from recycled materials such as used plastic bottles and bottle caps showcased the creativity of students and their commitment to protect sea turtles and other marine life. Cultural performances, contests and prizes along with food and music also ensured everyone had lots of fun.

The festival was plastic-free, part of Six Senses Laamu’s goal to make Laamu the first plastic-free atoll in the Maldives. All students received a reusable water bottle, while local telecom giant Dhiraagu donated reusable bags, in hopes that students will say no to single-use plastic ones.

“The aim of this event is to raise awareness about the importance of protecting sea turtles in our atoll and across the Maldives,” Marteyne van Well, General Manager of Six Senses Laamu, said.

“With every year, we aim to increase our positive impact in Laamu and maintain efforts as a community to protect turtles. For our inaugural festival, students from five schools in Laamu attended the event. Last year, we had students from 12 of the 13 schools in the atoll. And finally, for the Third Laamu Turtle Festival, we have all 13 local schools represented. 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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