Monday, October 19, 2015

Olive Ridley Project returns to Gili Lankanfushi

On Tuesday, we were happy to welcome back the Olive Ridley Project Founder, Martin Stelfox to Gili Lankanfushi. Following the success of his previous visit, we invited Martin back for the second time this year to spend time with our guests and hosts!

Set up in 2010, the Olive Ridley Project works towards eradicating the issues surrounding 'ghost gear' in the Indian Ocean. Ghost gear is lost, discarded or abandoned fishing equipment, usually in the form of broken fishing nets, which continue fishing as they float through the ocean, unseen, hence the name ‘ghost’. Marine life can easily get entangled within this fishing equipment, and most commonly in Maldives, we see the Olive Ridley species of turtle entangled. It is the plight of this species of Vulnerable sea turtle that gave the Olive Ridley Project its name.

The day started with a presentation highlighting the importance of sea turtle species to the ecosystem, and discussing the issues of ghost gear. Feeling enlightened about marine debris, and its negative effects on the environment, a large group of guests and hosts headed out for a reef clean to our One Palm Island reef. We didn’t collect much, but every little helps!

Hosts don't want to eat plastic.. neither does marine life!
Our afternoon consisted of training sessions for selected hosts. Our Mr Friday (butler) team and boat crew are the eyes of the resort, often walking the jetties, visiting the villas, or driving boats to and from the island. They are often the ones who spot ghost gear or entangled marine life around our resort, and as such they were taught how to handle entanglement situations effectively, and why it is important to collect so much information about the nets themselves. By collecting data about the fishing nets, we can start to find out where they are originating from, and using this information, the Olive Ridley Project helps educate the fisheries in those areas. Even our Bangladeshi gardeners were trained with the help of translator and head gardener Sajal.

To round off the day, we held an anti-litter event in our host canteen during afternoon tea, encouraging hosts not to litter in the ocean and informing them of the consequences of marine debris, especially ghost fishing gear.

What can you do to help?
Visit for more information on what to do if you find a net.
To donate, click here.

Always choose sustainably caught seafood. As consumers, we have a big voice which enables us to control the demand of certain fisheries. Say no to gill net, purse seine and trawl fisheries, and look for the pole and line label on tins of tuna. This way we can dramatically reduce the number of nets in our oceans, and cut the problem off at the source.

Our thanks go to Martin Stelfox, Founder and Director of the Olive Ridley Project.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Macro In the Maldives

Can you spot the camouflaged
decorator crab here??
When divers think Maldives, they generally think of Turtles, Mantas, and Sharks etc. But spare a small thought for the little critters too. The Maldives also has a less illustrious but vibrant Macro scene going on beneath the surface.

Jess, our Marine Sports Coordinator came across a very pleasant surprise snorkelling on the Gili Lankanfushi house reef this afternoon – two Robust Ghost Pipefish. The Robust Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus Cyanopterus) is a species of false pipefishes belonging to the family of Solenostomidae. This cryptic little species looks very similar to a drifting piece of sea grass and generally lives in open waters except during breeding, when they find a coral reef just like ours to start their family!
One of the two Robust Ghost Pipefish found on our house reef.
Photo Credit: Deborah Burn

But it doesn’t stop there; we’ve also had recent sightings of Leaf Fish, Harlequin Shrimp, Frog Fish, Dwarf Cuttlefish and even Mimic octopus, to name but a few. I suppose for those who prefer “big stuff” I could also mention that I saw a gang of six big Silky Sharks yesterday ;)

Jon Sherrington,
Dive Centre Base Leader

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Manta Mania at Gili Lankanfushi

Josie had an encounter with 16 Mantas on the cleaning station!
Credit: Josie Chandler
After a slightly disappointing 61 Manta Ray sightings in 2013, and a promising increase of 106 sightings during 2014: 2015 should officially be declared the year of the Manta! So far no less than 128 Manta rays have been spotted by Gili Lankanfushi divers, and we are only part way through the season!

Our Manta season really kicked off in August with our first sighting at Sunlight Thila during a snorkeling trip. Four lucky guests were treated to a display of no less than twelve train-feeding Mantas after a coral spawning event! 
Manta rays flock to the Eastern side of the atoll, following their plankton food, during the HulHangu South West monsoon in July, and are commonly seen visiting 'cleaning stations', where small fish aggregate to eat their parasites.  

Since the Sunlight sighting, we have been diving the famous Lankan Corner Manta Point cleaning station every day and have not been disappointed! Historically the site was a 'Manta Mecca', with many Mantas aggregating to freshen up as cleaner fishes nip away their parasites, and to find a mate, with courtship displays proving a common sight. In previous years, Manta sightings at Lankan Corner have severely dropped for unknown reasons, but this year it's exciting to see the site return to its former glory with Mantas having been spotted in the area every day for the last month, and up to 16 individuals seen at one time on the cleaning station! 
This Sunlight Thila visitor allows small cleaner fish to eat his parasites
Credit: Deborah Burn
A branchial (gill) shot is usually enough
for a positive ID
Credit: Deborah Burn
Gili Lankanfushi has always worked together with the Manta Trust to collect data regarding our sightings, and recently we have also partnered up with the Manta Ecology Project to help develop the Manta Matcher database. Each Manta Ray has a unique spot pattern on its belly that can be used as an identification tool. By sending our ID photographs, we are helping to discover more about these magnificent creatures in terms of health, migrations and life cycles.
Josie taking the perfect belly ID shot
Credit: Deborah Burn

We hope to see the beautiful Mantas hang around as the season continues, and if we are lucky, hopefully we will see some courtship behaviour, which could confirm for us that the site has indeed returned to how it was 20 years previously. We also actively encourage our guests to get involved with Manta Ray conservation and upload your sighting information and photographs to the Manta Trust by clicking HERE, and Manta Matcher, by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gili Lankanfushi earns EarthCheck Bronze Benchmarked Award!

We are so proud to have finally received
our Benchmarked Bronze award after
months of collecting data
Gili Lankanfushi has become the 4th property in Maldives to gain an EarthCheck Eco Accreditation!

It's well known that Gili Lankanfushi's environmental efforts are above and beyond, but receiving this Bronze Benchmarked award verifies and gives official recognition that the resort maintains excellent social and environmental standards.

The Benchmark award ranks us in accordance with other resorts' performance around the Maldives and the rest of the World in terms of social and environmental good practice. 

In order to receive this prestigious award we had to submit one year's worth of operational data including measurements of our water and energy consumption and waste management procedures. All the data was then subjected to a rigorous environmental benchmarking process to calculate where we currently stand in terms of seven specific environmental indicators. 

Our involvement with EarthCheck allows us to monitor our performance year-on-year, and by highlighting key areas where there may be more room for improvement, we can continually grow and strive for the highest possible sustainability levels.

Having recently completed external waste, water, and energy audits, Gili Lankanfushi is keen to implement new measures and build upon our current EarthCheck level, where the next step for us is to achieve Silver Certified status. In order to achieve this certification, we must prove that we are maintaining our good practices in key environmental performance areas as well as implement a long term sustainability approach.
The team here at Gili Lankanfushi are so proud to have received such an important accreditation, and we invite all our guests to take an Eco Tour of the island and allow our knowledgeable hosts to show you what sets Gili apart.