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Banyan Tree Marine Lab: Home of conservation in Maldives for 19 years

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The inauguration of the Banyan Tree Marine Lab in 2004 marked a significant milestone as the first resort-based establishment in the Maldives dedicated to safeguard the natural environment and marine ecosystem. 

Operating under the guiding philosophy of conservation, restoration, education, and research while catering to both Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Dhawa Ihuru, formerly known as Angsana Ihuru, the pioneering Marine Lab has been instrumental in supporting essential fieldwork carried out by visiting experts.

Over time, the Marine Lab has expanded its role to become a leading advocate for sustainability initiatives conducted by both resorts, such as spreading awareness about marine conservation in local schools and nearby communities.

Marine Talk

The primary objective of the Marine Lab is to enlighten guests about the indigenous marine ecosystems.  Through a weekly schedule of Marine Talk, lasting for 20-30 minutes, guests are educated on topics such as coral reefs, the current challenges they confront and proactive measures to safeguard them.

Citizen Science

Twice weekly, snorkelling sessions with the resident marine biologists are conducted to document various species and monitor local populations residing in the house reefs. 

Within this process, the team meticulously record three distinct categories of marine life: megafauna, groupers, and butterflyfish. These encompass an array of captivating creatures, including reef sharks, nurse sharks, eagle rays, turtles, trevallys, peacock groupers, crown of thorns starfish, and racoon butterflyfish. 

The presence and abundance of megafauna populations play a pivotal role as indicators of the overall marine ecosystem’s health.  They offer insights into prey availability, water quality, and the overall ecological integrity of the area.

Groupers, unfortunately, have faced considerable decline in population due to overfishing, primarily driven by their high value in fish markets.  Nonetheless, they serve a vital ecological function by controlling the populations of herbivorous fishes, thus preventing overgrazing of corals, and promoting reef recovery.

Butterflyfish, known as ‘bioindicators,’ have a symbiotic relationship with coral reefs.  By closely monitoring their populations, the team gain valuable understanding of the impact of coral bleaching, pollution, and habitat degradation on the health and vitality of the reefs.

Reef Cleanup

Ensuring the cleanliness of the reef is crucial to enhance the survival prospects of corals and protect the overall reef ecosystem.

Two predators are actively removed – the crown of thorns starfish (COTS) and the pincushion starfish (PINS), both notorious for consuming coral polyps, resulting in significant coral loss throughout the reef.

These species are referred to as ‘corallivores’ due to their primary diet consisting of corals.  The crown of thorns starfish can devour up to 75 square feet of corals annually, far surpassing the rate at which we can grow and replant corals.

Coral Nursery

At the Marine Lab, one of the major initiatives revolves around coral restoration, aiming to breathe new life into the reefs.

The coral rope nurseries offer a promising solution for giving a second chance to coral fragments that break off from the main structures. These fragments, also known as coral recruits, are carefully collected, and affixed to rope nurseries, which typically span 10 metres in length and 2 metres in width.

Experienced divers staying at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Dhawa Ihuru are invited to join the resident marine biologists in this meaningful endeavour.

Electric Reef

To enhance the preservation and restoration of local biodiversity and coral reefs, three electric reefs have been implemented and strategically positioned across both islands.  This innovative approach fuses technology with ecology, yielding more efficient conservation outcomes.

An electric reef comprises a sizeable metal framework linked to a low voltage power source, generating a localised electronic field that facilitates increased calcium deposition on the metal surface. 

The Banyan Tree Foundation pioneered the integration of this technology into the Maldives’ reefs with the construction of the Barnacle in 1996, way before the Marine Lab was built.

Subsequently, the Necklace and the Lotus were put together in 1998 and 2001, respectively, further extending the network of electric reefs to amplify our conservation efforts.

Over the past 19 years, the Banyan Tree Marine Lab has been a beacon of conservation and sustainability in the Maldives,” said Nicholas Hardman, Regional Marine Lab Manager. “We are incredibly proud of the progress we have made in coral planting, protecting house reefs, and promoting eco-friendly practices. Our commitment to fostering environmental awareness through educational activities remains steadfast as we continue to inspire positive change in our guests and the wider community.”

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru is a luxury barefoot tropical paradise at the heart of North Male’ Atoll, 25-minute away from Velana International Airport via speedboat.  With 48 pool villas dotting around the island, privacy and relaxation can easily be attained.  Stay at least 3 nights and save up to 20% off the best available rate, which includes daily breakfast and dinner, plus complimentary speedboat transfers and sunset cruise. Find out more about this offer via Stay More Pay Less | Banyan Tree.

Situated approximately two-minute away via speedboat from Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru lies Dhawa Ihuru, a distinct island retreat of its own with 45 villas, and dubbed as “one of the best house reefs” and “diver’s paradise” in the Maldives.  Discover Ihuru Island and gained flexibility with its villa and breakfast offer via Dhawa Ihuru Maldives | Dhawa Hotels.

Be in the know.  Explore more about living a “sustainability culture” or download the Marine Lab Information and Activity Guide

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Catch the wind with Kitesurfing World Champion Youri Zoon at COMO Cocoa Island

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Embark on an exhilarating kitesurfing odyssey from May 6th to 20th, 2024, at COMO Cocoa Island alongside Youri Zoon, celebrated for seizing the kitesurfing world championship twice. Under his seasoned guidance, amplify your kitesurfing prowess, whether you’re a neophyte craving the fundamentals or a seasoned aficionado striving for intricate manoeuvres and airborne thrills.

Kitesurfing merges windsurfing, surfing, and wakeboarding for a dynamic water sport. Using controllable kites, riders harness wind power to glide across the ocean’s surface while being set against the backdrop of endless horizons and azure waters.

Throughout his residency, Zoon will conduct guided kitesurfing sessions, offering novices a gentle introduction to the sport or empowering veterans to elevate their abilities. Additionally, Zoon will host enlightening COMO Conversations, delving into his personal journey to kitesurfing eminence and the obstacles he surmounted along the way.

Guests may arrange activities with Zoon at their leisure, with plenty of time to make the most of our private island comforts, from massage treatments at COMO Shambhala to sandbank dinners under the stars and more.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Zoon’s affinity for kiteboarding burgeoned at the tender age of 13. A prodigious talent, he swiftly amassed accolades, securing victories at the Junior European Championships and Dutch Nationals in his inaugural year. Subsequently clinching the world title in 2011 and 2012, Zoon’s enduring passion for the sport fuels his ongoing commitment to mentorship and coaching, ensuring his legacy endures both on and off the water.

Nestled within South Male Atoll, COMO Cocoa Island beckons discerning travelers with its intimate enclave of 33 overwater villas. Renowned for its iconic Dhoni Water Villas, which pay homage to Maldivian maritime heritage, this idyllic retreat offers a sanctuary of tranquillity and indulgence. Accessible via a scenic 40-minute speedboat journey from Velana International Airport, COMO Cocoa Island promises an unrivalled blend of luxury and seclusion.

For details on COMO Hotels and Resorts or to plan your next escape, please visit https://www.comohotels.com/cocoaisland.

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Sheraton Maldives hosts successful second season of Full Moon Futsal Cup

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Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa celebrated the culmination of the highly anticipated Full Moon Futsal Cup on March 31, 2024. The tournament, which commenced on March 17th, brought together 12 teams from neighboring resorts in Malé Atoll, fostering a spirit of friendly competition and camaraderie.

SO/ Maldives emerged victorious after a thrilling final match, securing the coveted title of Full Moon Futsal Cup Champions 2024. Mohamed El Aghoury, General Manager of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, presented the winning team with the Championship trophy and gold medals during a closing ceremony. Additional prizes, medals, and certificates were awarded to recognize the exceptional talent displayed by all participants.

“We are honored to have hosted and participated in such a vibrant tournament,” Mohamed El Aghoury commented, reflecting on the event’s success. “The Full Moon Futsal Cup celebrates not only sportsmanship but also fosters strong bonds within the resort community.”

Throughout the tournament, all teams showcased exceptional skill, determination, and teamwork, captivating spectators and fellow competitors alike. Notably, Sheraton Maldives’ own associate teams, Team Sheraton and Team Furana FC, participated with commendable spirit.

This involvement aligns with Marriott International’s Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) initiative, which prioritizes fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel valued. The participation of the Young Professionals ARG team specifically exemplifies the group’s dedication to community building, skill development, and mentorship. The tournament provided a platform to spotlight the energy and potential of young professionals, promoting their growth and contributing to the organization’s future success.

Extending beyond a sporting event, the Full Moon Futsal Cup embodies the values of unity, friendship, and healthy competition. This aligns with Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa’s commitment to fostering community connections and Marriott International’s TakeCare philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of physical well-being among associates.

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa extends its sincere gratitude to all participating teams, supporters, sponsors, and organizers who contributed to the resounding success of the Full Moon Futsal Cup 2024. The resort eagerly anticipates continuing this tradition of sporting excellence and camaraderie in the years to come.

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Dive into memorable underwater adventure with Baros Maldives’s Eco Explorer Experience

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In today’s world, where the fragile balance of marine ecosystems teeters on the edge, to call for sustainable tourism practices resonates louder than ever. Baros Maldives, deeply rooted in its respect for nature, leads the way in conservation and preservation. Baros’s Eco Explorer Experience stands as a testament to the island’s commitment, inviting guests to not just observe but to actively contribute to the safeguarding of our underwater sanctuaries.

Nestled on a lush, natural island paradise, Baros is a sanctuary surrounded by a kaleidoscope of marine life, boasting a world-class house reef, celebrated for its unparalleled beauty and biodiversity, attracting adventurers and nature lovers alike.

The Eco Explorer Experience is a carefully curated immersive experience designed for those who seek to delve deeper into the mysteries of the ocean. This experience is more than an adventure; it’s a journey of discovery and contribution, offering intimate encounters with the marvels of the sea, all while promoting marine conservation.

With this experience, Baros guests enjoy a myriad of enriching activities, culminating in a bespoke photobook documenting the essence of their Eco Explorer journey beneath the waves.

Coral Restoration and Conservation: Participants will immerse themselves in coral ecology, by planting personal coral gardens under the guidance of Baros’s resident Marine Biologist. This hands -on experience not only fosters coral growth but also contributes to the restoration of these vital habitats. Through the Coral Cube initiative, guests will apply innovative techniques like using fast plug cement to build thriving underwater ecosystems. The Baros marine team will share bi-annual updates with the guests so that they can follow the growth of their corals.

Marine Life Identification: This educational session equips guests with the knowledge to identify different fish species and understand their vital roles within the marine ecosystem. Equipped with snorkelling gear and new insights, guests will explore Baros’s world- class house reef during a snorkelling tour, guided by the resident marine biologist, to witness the vibrant marine life.

Night Snorkelling and Bioluminescence: As night falls, the reef reveals a different kind of beauty. With UV lights, guests will explore this nocturnal wonderland, observing the reef’s inhabitants in a new light. This magical experience is not only enchanting but also educational, offering insights into coral health and the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

Baros recognises the fragility of the marine environment and is committed to fostering sustainable tourism practices. The Eco Explorer Experience is more than a holiday activity, it’s an invitation to become part of a larger movement, advocating for the protection and preservation of our marine environments.

Join the Baros marine team on this extraordinary journey. Together, dive deeper, explore further, and unveil the boundless wonders of the ocean, ensuring they remain vibrant for generations to come.

For bookings and more information, please visit www.baros.com or contact Baros directly at reservations@baros.com or call +960 664 26 72.

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