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Maldivian Aquanauts to explore, protect their ocean nation as climate crisis grips

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The Government of Maldives and Nekton, the UK marine research institute, are launching an ambitious ocean mission to help the Maldives manage the impact of the climate crisis on the Indian Ocean nation. Data gathered will inform scientists and policy makers worldwide.

“The ocean is a key part of each Maldivian. 71% rely on the ocean for their primary source of income. We have committed to a 5-year initiative to advance ocean protection and sustainably develop the blue economy. This Mission will help us establish the long-term sustainability of our economic growth, livelihoods and jobs through establishing marine protected areas to build ocean resilience,” stated Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamid Solih.

“Maldivians have done very little to cause the climate crisis, yet we are on the frontlines of its impact”, stated Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture, Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan. “There is still time. To protect our nation, we need to protect what is in our ocean. Doing this meaningfully requires deeper understanding of what is in our oceans, and this is what we are launching with the Nekton Maldives Mission. We hope that this Mission will inspire other nations to do the same.”

The Nekton Maldives Mission will set sail on September 4 and be at sea for 35 days. Science teams from across the world will join Maldivian colleagues to undertake the first systematic survey and sampling of the Maldives from the surface to 1000 metre depths. Almost nothing is known about what lies below 30 metres.

Ten Maldivian marine scientists have been selected as the first “Maldivian Aquanauts” to lead over 30 first descents in submersibles to explore Maldives unknown deep ocean. The first descent of the Mission will be led by an all-women team of Aquanauts. The Aquanaut names will be announced at a press conference in the Maldivian capital on the 1st of September.

The Maldivian scientists, in partnership with Nekton’s international team, are establishing a baseline health check to inform government policies to protect at least 20% of Maldivian seas — an area of ocean half the size of Germany.

“We are determining the location, health and resilience of our coral reefs, especially the deeper ecosystems which we know very little about, so that key habitats may be identified for protection and management,” explained Shafiya Naeem, Director General of the Maldives Marine Research Institute, who is leading the Maldivian team on the mission. “The reefs that surround our atolls help reduce the impacts from sea level rise and the increasing frequency and intensity of storms, and forms the basis of our economies, livelihoods and sustenance.”

The Maldives, a big ocean state, is 99% ocean and just 1% land, sitting on average 1.5 metres above the sea. As a result, the nation faces a growing threat from the rising seas. But, armed with more knowledge of what their waters contain, work can begin to protect what lives there and safeguard the environment those species inhabit, which in turn makes the country better able to withstand climate change.

“We expect to locate and document critical nurseries for fish and coral that can inform Government plans to strengthen the sustainability and resilience of Maldives’s ocean resources,” explained Professor Lucy Woodall, Nekton Principal Scientist, Department of Biology, University of Oxford who is leading Nekton’s international scientific team.

The Mission is deploying two of the most advanced human occupied submersibles alongside robotic and autonomous systems and over a dozen research technologies supported by 40 partners, 16 Maldivian and 24 international.

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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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