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.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Presenting Gili Lankanfushi's Floating Solar Panel to IRENA

Gili Lankanfushi boasts the largest floating solar structure in Maldives and so we were invited, along with Swimsol representatives, to give a presentation to some of the industry's leaders and sit on a panel at a special renewable energy conference.

The conference was held by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Ministry of Environment and Energy. IRENA have been employed to develop a roadmap to help accelerate the deployment of renewables in the Maldives, and so this final workshop consisted of presentations from key stakeholders from around the country to try to discover potential barriers, and to discuss ways to overcome these obstacles in the way of mass deployment of renewable energy.
Gili Lankanfushi's 15m x 15m floating solar panel 

The long sunlight hours of Maldives create the perfect conditions to use solar energy, however the islands lack the spacial capacity needed to build large systems. One of the solutions is to station photovoltaic panels on floating structures, as 90% of the Maldives as a country is sea water. Swimsol, the company who built our solar system, specialize in doing just that.

As one of the few resorts utilizing solar power from a floating structure, Gili lankanfushi was invited to discuss the challenges we faced during the planning and implementation stages. As a resort who has overcome these barriers, we can be used as a good example for other resort and local islands. I accompanied Brad Calder, our Resort Manager, to Kurumba Resort to deliver our presentation at the IRENA conference.
Brad Calder, Gili Lankanfushi Resort Manager, providing solutions to Maldives solar energy barriers
Our message was received well and we are proud to have been selected as a good example of an island who has overcome to much to be pushing forward with sustainability and solar power.
The future looks sunny for Gili Lankanfushi as we plan more solar projects for early next year!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ocean Paradise ranked 9th most environmentally responsible dive centre in Asia

Ocean Paradise Marine Sports Centre here at Gili Lankanfushi was the first resort dive centre in the Maldives to be certified by Green Fins one year ago. Green Fins accredits environmentally responsible diving centres throughout 6 countries in Asia, and we are pleased to announce that we have retained our certification for the 2nd year following a recent spot check! 
Green Fins, a group internationally coordinated by Reef-World, sets international standards for environmentally friendly snorkeling and diving practices. These standards include delivering informative briefings before trips, ensuring guides act as eco role models in the water, abiding by codes of conduct, placing signage about best snorkel practices in visible places, and generally ensuring our operation is as responsible as possible. The group provides guidance and support to those certified to help us maintain our best practices.

Dive Centres are assessed annually, and this year, we scored so well on the checklist of best practice, that we have achieved the 9th spot on the top 10 Green Fins members list for environmentally responsible dive centres!

We are excited to share this with you, and hope to continue to improve upon our score each year!
From left to right: Shanoon, Jinah, Shakeeb, Amanda, and Rameez.
Our Ocean Paradise team are proud to have achieved such an amazing score!