Six Senses Laamu receives full marks for home-based Junior Marine Biology Programme

After 10 weeks of exploring the oceans around Six Senses Laamu, the first series of the online Junior Marine Biology programme has made a satisfying splash.

What’s more, it is not too late to dive in, as all classes were recorded, which means they can be taken any time, and in any order.

The online Junior Marine Biology programme is a series of free web-based classes, made up of short informative videos, activities to do at home and one-on-one feedback by the team of 10 marine biologists at the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI).

Each class explored a different topic, from how the islands of the Maldives are formed (parrotfish poop in case you were wondering) to the importance of corals, seagrass meadows, mangroves and marine protected areas.

The atoll’s gentle giants took their turn in the spotlight, including live footage of the season’s first turtle hatchlings emerging from their nest on April 26, plus a special encounter with manta rays in virtual reality.

The programme also introduced what it means to be a scientist and how to share science, culminating in a session on how to make a stop motion conservation movie, which received some amazing animations from the children taking part.

Learn about marine protected areas with the Junior Marine Biology programme. PHOTO/ SIX SENSES

Due to the various lockdown measures in place, the Six Senses team were displaced all over the world, from Six Senses Laamu to Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, yet their collective passion for the project resulted in high-caliber, rich and varied course content, compiled in a matter of days for each class.

Even more remarkable was the enthusiasm, creativity and dedication of the children. Their heartwarming final video compilation of jokes and reasons why they love marine biology brought a collective tear … and hope that these budding conservationists will go on to fight for the future of our blue planet.

Six Senses Laamu’s Marketing Communications Manager Leanna Crowley coordinated the programme with meticulous care and attention. Her efforts have been rewarded with over 10,000 page views and 300 pieces of homework from more than 80 children in 20 countries (and counting), along with many messages and videos.

Each submission was individually marked and handed back by the Maldives Underwater Initiative specialist hosting the session, with thanks in particular to Nicole Pelletier from the Manta Trust, Jo Goodfellow from the Olive Ridley Project, and Vivienne Evans and Ali Shareef from the Blue Marine Foundation.

“Receiving the homework, videos and stories of the adventures our Junior Marine Biologists have gone on has been the highlight of our lockdown,” Marteyne van Well, general manager at Six Senses Laamu, was quoted in a statement, as saying.

“To know that we could provide education and inspiration despite the ongoing global restrictions shows the dedication of our Maldives Underwater Initiative team towards achieving our vision of creating a global community of marine stewards. I am so proud of the team and of this community of little marine biologists who I hope to meet in person one day.”

Lead presenter and Guest Education Coordinator Lawrence Menz and co-presenter and Head Marine Biologist and Research Coordinator Philippa Roa proved an instant hit for their wonderful chemistry, fun bloopers and terrible jokes.

Although the structure, by necessity, was different to what children might enjoy on vacation in the Maldives, the objective was the same, aiming to help foster an understanding of marine biology and see first-hand the importance of marine conservation.

It certainly came as a relief to parents to aid their home schooling efforts and their kind words were very well received by the MUI team:

“Firstly, a HUGE thank you for putting together this program. My son has been loving it! It is definitely making lockdown easier and it is fun to dream of travel and the sea. We truly hope that one day we will be able to visit Six Senses in person.”

“My son has spent many happy hours with your online marine biology course. Thank you for your spectacular effort. You have added goodness, fun and happiness to very trying times.”

“You have produced a world-class series of online lessons for our young people. My boy follows your course independently and with bright, sparkling eyes and a positive attitude. When I watch your videos or print out your sheets I am awed by the high standard. I can only imagine the very hard work, coordination and planning that has gone into this course – and to all the online material Six Senses has offered throughout this awful time.”

“I just wanted to send a short note to thank you for your Junior Marine Biology online course that your team offered the past 10 weeks. We used it to supplement her regular, at-home classroom work, during this Covid time. really, really enjoyed the online course. It is her dream to become a Junior Marine Biologist and your team truly inspired her.”

“We are so sad that your amazing course is over, it really has been such a fantastic experience for us. To see your beautiful island and your stunning wildlife and learn so much along the way has been very special. It’s been a great way for me to encourage all kinds of home-learning from writing to maths without the sulking we get when it’s time for school work… We enjoyed seeing the fellow graduates around the world too.”

One of the Junior Marine Biologists from the UK with his crab creation for week two’s homework. PHOTO/ SIX SENSES

Lawrence and the team are now working towards re-crafting the Junior Marine Biology programme offered at the resort. Guiding these adjustments is the most important feedback of all, the suggestions provided by the graduates of Junior Marine Biology online who are hoping to come explore Laamu’s marine life in person and put to use all the skills they have learnt.

Although the physical Junior Marine Biology programme will take off again with the opening of Six Senses Laamu, the online resources will remain available via a dedicated website, so that families can still start the programme over the summer vacation.

MUI is an initiative by Six Senses Laamu in partnership with three NGOs: Blue Marine Foundation, the Manta Trust and the Olive Ridley Project. The mission is to lead the tourism industry in the Maldives by undertaking meaningful marine conservation focused around the three pillars of research, education and community.

One of the team’s many pioneering projects includes an underwater contactless ultrasound scanner for Laamu’s resident population of pregnant manta rays in order to study gestation and embryonic development and guide conservation strategies.

Six Senses Laamu is the first and one of the only two resorts in the pristine Laamu atoll. Most of the villas and facilities are built overwater, however beach villas and on-land dining are 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, 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.

Six Senses Laamu hosts one of the largest teams of marine biologists in the Maldives, the MUI. Staff from Six Senses Laamu and its three partner NGOs: Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and Olive Ridley Project work together under the banner of MUI and seek to lead the tourism industry in the Maldives with meaningful marine conservation efforts based on research, education and community outreach.

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