Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gili Goes Renewable

Gili Lankanfushi is happy to announce its partnership with Swimsol, an Austrian company that  specializes in groundbreaking floating solar power solutions. Their idea is to bring green power to parts of the World, like the Maldives, where land space is limited. We are lucky enough to have Swimsol’s largest product so far; a 15 x 15 metre floating solar power platform.
The platform itself is an engineering marvel; an innovative floating structure that is designed to survive waves and water turbulence. It consists of glass fibre tubes, aluminum frames and 112 solar panels.  Weighing over 5 tonnes, it took nearly one third of Gili Lankanfushi’s hosts to push it into the water. Today after more than two weeks of hard work in the blistering heat of the dry season, the Swimsol team have plugged the largest floating solar platform in the Maldives into Gili Lankanfushi’s power grid.

Swimsol’s platform has a nominal capacity of 28 KW and on sunny days it will produce up to 200 kWh, which is enough to power the equivalent of all our pathway and jetty lights, as well as the Front Office lighting for 12 hours! The platform will reduce our carbon footprint by 35 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to the emissions of 30 return flights from Europe to Maldives per person!

On behalf of the team here at Gili Lankanfushi, our thanks go to the entire Swimsol team, but in particular we want to mention the guys working on the ground during the installation - Patrick, Zsolt, Tom, Dominik, and Akram who worked flat out in the hot Maldivian sun to make this project a reality, and of course we acknowledge the never ending hard work of Swimsol's managing director Mr Martin Putschek!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pilot Whale Cruise

"Debs, Debs; we saw Pilot Whales!" seems to be a recurring sentence I've been hearing recently following our dolphin cruises. For the last 2 weeks our lucky guests have frequently been sighting these beautiful creatures cruising along the Eastern side of Gili Lankanfushi. The Short-Finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) is actually a type of large dolphin according to its classification in the family Delphinidae. It is easily recognisable in the water due to its dark colouration, bulbous head, and highly curved dorsal fin.
The large head and curvature of the dorsal fin can be clearly seen from the boat. Credit: Frank Mitchell
Pilot whales spy hop to get an idea of what's going
on above the water. Credit: Frank Mitchell

Commonly spotted in small groups of 8-20, we have been seeing more than 40 individuals on our trips at one time. This leads us to believe that this may be an aggregation where males from each pod may be crossing  over with other pods to breed. The pilot whales are one of the few species of cetacean where the males and females remain in the same family pod, whereas in many other species, the males split off and form 'bachelor pods' which discourages inbreeding. In pilot whale populations, inbreeding never happens due to these inter-pod aggregations which may be formed. 
She turns sideways and smiles for the
camera! Credit: Frank Mitchell

It didn't take long to convince our training manager, Frank Mitchell, to board his first ever dolphin cruise in 3 years of working at Gili Lankanfushi. One of the best photographers on our island, Frank took some incredible shots, and was thoroughly spoiled as the highly intelligent pilot whales seemed to enjoy spending time with our boat. More so than other dolphin species, the pilots were bow riding for over 40 minutes, spy hopping, and often turning sideways to get a good eyeful of our excited guests!

I will be joining the dolphin cruise (or should we call it pilot whale cruise?!) tonight to try and get a glimpse of my first ever pilot whale!! It's likely their presence is related to the change in season, and that they're following some food source- I hope they stick around for a while longer!

My thanks go to Frank Mitchell for providing such beautiful images!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Maldives National University visit

Chef John shows off his organic garden
This week we had an exciting visit from students studying at the Maldives National University. The visit was initiated by our very own IVD Captain, Afrah Abdulla, who studies Hotel and Resort Management part time at the University. Together we arranged activities for them throughout the day to supplement their studies which revolve around sustainable tourism. Following an island tour in the morning, the days activities were handed over to Executive Chef John Bakker. He treated them to an insightful tour of the organic garden and eco-centre, explaining what could be grown in the garden and how this benefits our resort, as well as showing off our glass crusher and can compressor in the eco centre!

Learning all about coral
The afternoon was then reserved for me, the Marine Biologist and Environmental Officer. Afrah had been telling his class mates all about our Coral Lines Project, and so I introduced the students to this reef rehabilitation initiative with an interesting lecture. I could talk about the project all day, but I decided the best way to learn was to get out onto the beach and plant the Coral Lines together!
The students all tried their hands at fragmenting the coral, placing the fragments in the rope, and measuring the corals with calipers. Within the hour, we had prepared two coral lines which I planted in the nursery later that day.

Following a short coffee break, we headed back to the lecture hall for the second lesson of the day. This was all about corporate sustainability and our Gili SEAS policy (Social & Environmental Awareness and Sustainability). This lecture was all about the importance of awareness within a business, but also touched on why we should conduct regular audits for waste, water and energy or become eco-accredited by companies such as Earth Check, and the solutions we can create following such audits including the possibilities of streaming for renewable energies within the business.

The MNU team with their two Coral Lines!
It's great that the future tourism managers are having such a heavy focus on corporate sustainability within their studies, and it makes us proud at Gili Lankanfushi to be able to show these students all the great things we do as a business to become more sustainable.

To see the progress of MNU's two Coral Lines, click HERE for line 059, and HERE for line 060.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Earth Hour 2015 - Coral Lines celebrates 1 year anniversary

Each year on March 28th,  between 20:30  - 21:30, the world celebrates Earth Hour by switching off lights for one hour. This highlights the imminent issue of climate change and importance of mitigation of carbon emissions. For Maldives in particular, climate change is detrimental as the country heavily relies on healthy coral reefs for its survival. Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to ocean temperature fluctuations induced by climate change, so for us, joining the Earth Hour movement was a must!

At Gili we have developed a tradition of going beyond the hour and dedicating the whole day to our planet. Last year during Earth Hour we initiated something that will last for years to come: A long term coral rehabilitation project called "Coral Lines". This year, after a lot of hard work, we wanted to share our great results: Our project became nationally recognised, and we even did an IUCN sponsored Coral Lines seminar at Maldives National University. For us Earth Hour commemorates the 1st anniversary of Coral Lines and so it was time to celebrate (link). We also produced a video that explains the project and shows you some of our progress:

We started Earth Day early in the morning by setting up our ‘coral planting station’ next to the breakfast beach. With display tanks to engage the guests and leaflets allowing our guests to donate freely to the project, we encouraged our breakfast guests to help us plant 250 corals to celebrate the Coral Lines anniversary. Later on in the day we created a Gili starfish in the shallow water using one of the Coral Lines coral transplantation methods.  This is a symbol for us as we begin transplantation of rope grown coral on to the reef- the most exciting and experimental part of the project.
Towards the evening of course we did our power down, but for 2 hours instead of 1. After all, this is our planet,  it deserves our time and attention!