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Four women complete unprecedented ‘Stand Up For Our Seas’ paddleboard expedition, raises awareness on plastic pollution

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In February 2019, four women completed an unprecedented stand up paddle boarding (SUP) expedition in Baa atoll in the Maldives, raising awareness of the need to protect marine life, and the necessary actions to do so.

Dr Claire Petros and Dr Cal Major, veterinarians from the UK, and Shaaziya ‘Saazu’ Saeed and Dhafeena ‘Dhafy’ Hassan Ibrahim, Maldivian ocean advocates, paddled a gruelling 100km over eight days, the likes of which has never been done before in the Maldives. The women paddled in the beating sun, fighting dehydration and exhaustion, through unseasonal headwinds and waves and against strong currents, between 16 islands of the atoll.

The team — supported by environmentalist Rob Thompson of Odyssey Innovations, Videographer James Appleton, and Shameel Ibrahim of the Olive Ridley Project — visited schools, local islands and resorts along the way to give presentations, run beach and harbour clean-ups, and investigate the myriad of solutions to plastic pollution and climate change already in place in the country, with the aim of inspiring further positive change.

“This expedition was so different to my previous expeditions; one of the biggest challenges, and the most rewarding aspects, was working as a team, discovering our complimentary strengths and support, and creating a successful campaign as a unit,” Cal Major, who has previously completed world-record SUP expeditions, said.

The women were privileged enough to encounter turtles, dolphins and manta rays during the paddling, bringing home the importance of protecting the oceans around the world. They also encountered uninhabited islands covered in plastic bottles, enormous ghost fishing nets on beaches regularly used by turtles for nesting, and harbours packed with plastic.

Plastic pollution is a huge issue with recent global media attention. It is a global problem, and experiencing it here, juxtaposed by wildlife, highlighted the importance of the need to tackle this problem urgently and globally. The oceans are all connected and are vital to support life on Earth, producing over 50 per cent of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

“Having treated sea turtles with life threatening entanglements caused by plastic pollution and ghost fishing gear, I have witnessed first hand just how much suffering and damage each animal affected by this man made problem has to endure,” Dr Claire Petros, Lead Veterinarian of the Olive Ridley Project which is involved in protecting turtles in the Indian Ocean from ghost fishing gear, said.

The Maldives is renowned for its pristine marine environment and abundance of wildlife, but it is also vulnerable to plastic pollution, coral bleaching and climate change. Thousands of marine creatures every year are entangled in lost or discarded fishing nets. Thousands more ingest plastic fragments, causing starvation and poisoning the food chain.

The Maldives is the lowest-lying country in the world, made up of more than 1100 islands surrounded by coral reefs which support the ocean ecosystem. Due to warming seas, these corals are becoming bleached, with progressively less ability to regenerate. The rising sea levels are severely threatening the islands, with estimates projecting that they will be under water in 12 years if current trends continue.

The reception to the team was phenomenal, with local islands and resorts alike excited to share the positive changes they already had in place, proud to protect the local marine life, and eager to learn more. Many schools were working towards becoming plastic free, and as well as receiving the team’s presentations, were encouraged to give their own accounts of the waste management practices being initiated on their home islands.

The expedition was supported by Coco Collection, and the start and end points were Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu resort, home to the Olive Ridley Project Marine Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. As a locally-owned resort brand that’s part of the beautiful natural environment of the Maldives, Coco Collection is aware of their impact and they strive to make their impact positive, protective, and nurturing towards their surroundings.

“We are proud to invest time, money, expertise, and energy in playing our part. Beyond what we do at our resorts, we partner with and support initiatives such as Stand Up for Our Seas, in order to have the biggest lasting positive impact on our corner of the world and beyond,” Siraj Ali Waseem, General Manager of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, said.

The team met with the Maldivian environment minister Dr Hussain Rasheed before setting out on their voyage, and his message was a clear global call to action: The Maldives is taking responsibility for its own carbon emissions, aiming to become the first carbon-neutral country. They are supporting plastic free schools programmes, and helping islands to become plastic free. Resorts are answering consumer demands to use less plastic, and most have desalination plants to produce drinking water, removing the need for plastic water bottles. Fishing with nets is not permitted in the Maldives; pole and line methods are widely used instead, and the nets arriving in ocean currents into the Maldivian waters, entangling the megafauna here, are usually from further afield.

Even with the Maldives making all the changes within their power, it is up to the global community to take action to prevent carbon emissions and climate change from irreparably destroying this country. The expedition received copious in-country media attention and support, and was used as a vehicle to encourage continued positive change, and to inspire global action.

Photography: James Appleton

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Coco Bodu Hithi partners with Anastasia Medvedeva for resin art

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Coco Bodu Hithi has announced a partnership with renowned artist Anastasia Medvedeva, who will host a three-month residency starting in August 2024. Anastasia, celebrated for her expertise in resin art, will be the first resin artist to take up residence at Coco Bodu Hithi.

Anastasia’s unique artistic expression using epoxy resin as the preliminary medium will offer guests a unique opportunity to engage in an unforgettable journey of creativity and learning. From 02nd August to 30th October 2024, guests can explore their artistic potential under her expert guidance.

Anastasia brings a wealth of experience to Coco Bodu Hithi. She is a professional artist with a passion for teaching and creating engaging art experiences. With a proven track record in managing art classrooms and collaborating with luxury resorts, Anastasia has successfully conducted art masterclasses worldwide. Her achievements include selling 70 art pieces to clients in 35 countries, including Canada, the UK, and the USA. Notably, she has also taught a resin art masterclass to a world-famous Olympic champion.

During her residency at Coco Bodu Hithi, Anastasia will share invaluable insights and techniques to enhance art skills, helping participants create stunning artwork. Her masterclass offerings include individual or group sessions covering Resin Art, Fluid Art, Candle Making and more. Additionally, there will be display of her resin art and craft souvenirs on the island.

Coco Bodu Hithi invites all guests to discover their artistic abilities and express themselves through these engaging and enjoyable art sessions.

For more information and to book your stay, please visit Coco Bodu Hithi’s website at www.cococollection.com/bodu-hithi or email us at reservations@cococollection.com.

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International PADI Women’s Dive Day celebrations with Manta Rays at The Nautilus Maldives

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Celebrate International PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 20th at The Nautilus Maldives, an ultra-luxury island resort in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll. This special day invites female divers to embark on a free-spirited underwater journey, creating unforgettable memories beneath the waves.

Explore the island’s stunning house reef at the lagoon’s edge, or dive into the world-renowned Hanifaru Bay, where you can swim among whale sharks and the captivating manta rays. Hanifaru Bay, one of the largest manta-feeding hotspots in the world, offers a unique opportunity to witness these majestic creatures perform their mesmerising, timeless dance during manta season.

On this special day, The Nautilus Maldives is offering a 50% discount on Double Tank Dives for certified female divers, with prices starting at AED 1726++ and 50% of scuba diving throughout the day starting at AED 1286++. Additionally, female guests can enjoy complimentary Try Dive sessions in the resort’s Naiboli Pool throughout the day.

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Portuguese footballer Candido Costa to host football camp at Fushifaru Maldives

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Fushifaru Maldives has announced that the renowned Portuguese football player and influential personality, Candido Costa, will be visiting the resort to host an exclusive football camp. This exciting event will take place from 17th to 24th July 2024, providing guests and aspiring football players a unique opportunity to train with one of the sport’s most esteemed figures.

His influence extends beyond the pitch, as he currently serves as the head of PR relations for the Portugal team during the Euro 2024, further cementing his status as a key figure in the sport. The 43-year-old former football player, born in São João da Madeira, brings with him the spirit of competition and football as he aims to get everyone playing in this dream destination, surrounded by paradisiacal beaches, crystal-clear seas and genuine Maldivian hospitality.

Who said that a paradisiacal landscape is not suitable for a football match? Cândido Costa, former footballer and current commentator on Channel 11, will prove otherwise, on a visit to Fushifaru, awarded multiple times as “The Best Boutique Resort in the Maldives”. The former football player will host a Football Camp for hotel guests and a Team Building class for the resort’s staff.

There is nothing better than enjoying the sun, beach and crystal clear waters, on a peaceful holiday and still being able to exercise your body, playing sports, in a relaxed atmosphere. It is with this purpose that Cândido Costa intends to bring together the resorts customers and it’s staff for fun and well-spent moments, where well-being is always present.

Fushifaru Maldives invites all guests and football aficionados to join this once-in-a-lifetime event. For more information and to secure your spot at the football camp, please visit the resort’s website or contact the reservations team at: reservations@fushifaru.com.

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