Monday, April 14, 2014

Participating in stakeholder consultation for the National Plan Of Action - Sharks

Last week, our Marine Biologist was invited to attend an important conservation event here in the Maldives; a stakeholder consultation on the National Plan of Action (NPOA) for shark conservation in the Maldives. Although Maldives has banned shark fishing completely since 2010, Shark Plan is required for Maldives due to a variety of local as well as international reasons.

Around the table there were ministry representatives and resort biologists, as well as the ex-shark fishermen. A draft version of the action plan for shark management was reviewed point-by-point and everyone had a chance to voice their opinion.

Current issues with the national shark ban were discussed; highlighting potential problems with long-line fishing vessels, shark bi-catch and potential smuggling of shark products.

An interesting part of this consultation was the opportunity to speak to the ex-shark fishermen and discuss the problems they are currently facing, actions taken by government and finally, ways to develop new livelihoods for ex-shark fishermen.

Lastly, a Shark Trust Fund was proposed in order to support alternative livelihoods for ex-shark fishermen and to aid shark focused conservation and research in the future.

Gili Lankanfushi fully supports the conservation of sharks. First of all, we run an environmental awareness programme for the guests where we highlight the importance of sharks to the natural ecosystems, as well as the simple fact that sharks do not feed on people. Secondly, we contribute to the national SharkWatch programme, where our diving instructors record incidental shark sightings on a daily basis. In 2013 we submitted data for 580 dives; a huge sample size, and a decent contribution to the national programme. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Earth Hour 2014: Introducing Coral Lines Project at Gili Lankanfushi!

To Celebrate Earth Hour 2014 Gili Lankanfushi, is proudly launching The Coral Lines project, a non-profit coral reef rehabilitation project ! 

Coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse and yet most threatened ecosystems in the world… The best

way to save the coral reefs globally is to protect them from any damage; support conservation, take care when snorkeling /diving & reduce your carbon footprint in your daily life.

People can also help one small reef to recover by nursing coral. Our guests will now be able to donate a Coral Line – a rope planted with 50 baby corals, which will be nursed to Gili Lankanfushi standard. As far as we know, this is the first time that this novel method of growing coral will be used in the Maldives.

At Gili Lankanfushi we will be recovering the One Palm Island reef by nursing coral on ropes (lines) (method by Levy et al., 2010) and later transplanting it on the coral reef (method by Lindahl, 2003). Every rope is initially planted with 50 small, living coral fragments. We nurse the corals in the lagoon for 1 year and later transplant the rope to the One Palm Island reef. Overtime we expect the corals to get stronger, grow bigger and improve the health of the One Palm Island Reef. Guests will also be able to track how the coral is growing at 

Our project is a research study on the subject of Coral Reef rehabilitation science, and 75% of the proceeds from every Coral Line donated will go to Gili SEAS (Social & Environmental Awareness and Sustainability) fund, allowing our property to do more for the locals and more for the environment.

Find out more at Coral Lines Website ! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

One more Olive Ridley saved !

Last week our two of our hosts, Shahid from Housekeeping and Assad from In Villa Dining, noticed a turtle stuck in a pile of fishing net near one of the jetties in our lagoon. They swiftly cut the turtle from the net and called the marine biologist who collected some data. The turtle was not hurt and seemed healthy so we released it back into the ocean. 

The poor turtle was yet another Olive Ridley, measuring 56 cm curved carapace length, who had got stuck in a tangle mess of more than 5 types of discarded fishing net. Unfortunately, this happens quite often, to find out why, click here... We work with an NGO called Olive Ridley Project , and we have submitted the information on the turtle and the nets directly to them. 

Great work Shahid and Assad! 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Spanish Dancer

Scientists that identify, describe, classify and name organisms (taxonomists) can sometimes be a bit plain when naming species.  However, there are some exceptionally creative names, and one of them is Spanish dancer (Hexabranchus sanguineus), an elusive species of Indo-pacific nudibranch.

Our Mr Friday Gasim, found one of these stranded on Gili beach, and called me to assist. We released the creature into a deeper part of the lagoon, and since it was in good health we did a photoshoot. What a beauty!

Nudibranchs are sea slugs, which, as their Latin name implies, have naked (exposed) gills. These sea slugs often have beautiful colours and are admired by many divers and snorkelers alike. Spanish dancer has a striking red colouration, and when it swims, it truly looks like an exotic flamenco dancer (or at least an underwater version of it). Nudibranchs are often small, however Spanish dancer is an exception – it is one of the largest nudibranch species in the world, growing over 40 cm in length.
Despite the size, the Spanish dancer is a rare sight, since it is primarily nocturnal. It much more common to see the eggs of this animal. Eggs of Spanish dancer are very distinctive and are seen more commonly than the nudibranch itself, they are laid in a beautiful egg rose, which also resembles a skirt of a Spanish dancer.

Egg rose of a Spanish Dancer (picture is a kind contribution of our guest).
While some nudibranchs are herbivorous, many others have bizarre specialized diets consisting of either bacteria, sponge, jellyfish, anemones, coral, sea pens, flatworms, barnacles, crustaceans, tunicates, eggs, or even other nudibranchs. Spanish Dancer eats toxic sponge Halichondria sp. and finds it’s food with two sensory organs on the front of their body. The nudibranch then accumulates the toxins from it's food, and incorporates them into its own body and eggs, in this way the nudibranch repels any predators.
Hello! Mouth of the nudibranch

Have you ever seen a Spanish Dancer ?..