Understanding the Mysteries of the Ocean and Coral Reefs

For those who have traveled the Maldives with Kamey, you will know he has a wealth of information regarding the oceans and marine life. We asked him to share some of his knowledge with us, as well as his concerns for the future of our oceans.

Kamey

Have you ever wondered how old this strange rock we call earth is or even wondered how old the life blood of earth which we call the oceans are?  I do! They are both pretty old and we still don’t know all there is to know about them. The place we call home is around 4.56 billion years old and the ocean where there remains millions of mysteries is around 3.8 billion years old. When the earth cooled down from malting lava, the gas in the atmosphere cooled down to below the boiling point of water and it rained for approximately a million year nonstop. That’s lots of rain! Worse than UK! This rainfall filled the basin of the earth that we now call the ocean.

Then I wonder how old is the underwater rain forest that we refer to as coral reefs? The oldest fossil of coral ever found is 500 million years ago but sadly they died around 225 million years ago. The modern day coral reefs that we see today are around 240 million year old, so literally speaking that is old too. Coral reefs keep growing and the polyps keep multiplying so we could say that they have the capacity to live forever. There are corals that we see that are around 4000 years old, one species of coral called ‘stag horn coral’ are around 5000 years old.

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The formation of atolls and barrier reefs around the world, dependent on size, has a time gap of between 1 million to 30 million years. This is how long  scientists believe atoll formation takes to create the forms we see today. Coral has a slow growth rate all over the world and it’s growth is dependent on both the clarity of water and its quality.  The slowest coral grow is around 0.4 centimeter in 1 year. The fastest corals can grow at a rate of 13 centimeter per year. Isn’t that amazing?

There are around 420,000 recorded species of animal in the ocean and there are still an estimated 500,000 to 2 million marine organisms yet to be discovered. Most marine scientists  predict 91 percent of species on the ocean have yet to be discovered. All I can say is WOW!

The ocean covers 71 percent of the earth’s surface and still 95 percent of the ocean needs to be explore. Who is coming with me?! The ocean is the biggest play ground we have in the world and we know more about the stars then our own oceans. These facts astound me. 2/3 of the world population rely on the ocean. 53 percent of world’s economy is linked to the oceans. The Ocean generates half of the oxygen we breathe and stores carbon dioxide 50 times faster than even a forest. My final fact is that the ocean regulates all the weather patterns around the world.

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Climate change acidification plastic pollutions

Climate change and acidification are the biggest threats to our oceans and there is no easy way to fix everything. Climate change and its impact has been fast and is moving much faster than ever predicted. Sometimes we don’t even realize it is that big until we see an article online or on TV and we see how much devastation it brings.
When a weak storm hits in tropical waters,  the warm surface provides additional moisture to fuel the storm and create a hurricane. This is because of the sudden temperature change in surface water.

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Ocean acidification happens because the ocean is trying to absorb more carbon dioxide (CO2) created by the increased levels of CO2 that we are producing. The saltwater molecules have a chemical reaction with the CO2 that changes them into hydrogen ions. The more this reaction is off-balance with the natural calcium carbon ions that are the building blocks of the ocean structure, the greater the risk to the whole food chain. The more hydrogen ions there are, the warmer the ocean gets. Plastic pollution is the biggest threat and one that we created by ourselves.  The most common type of ocean debris recorded is cigarette filters.  A minimum of 30% of ocean species are threatened by just plastic, as it starts to decay it turns into micro plastic and this has begun to end up in the food that we eat daily. We can’t just stand and watch we need to hold hands and stand for the protection of our oceans as our lives depending on it.

coral reef before and after

In the Maldives our life revolves around the ocean. When I think to myself that my whole life I have lived in this beautiful place that I call heaven on earth. We are born as sons of the sea and we live and breathe with the beauty of it.  I have such respect for the amazing diversity of our coral reefs. It is sad to see it is fading faster than we I could ever imagine. As a world society we need to educate more people worldwide and use more effective and sustainable eco-system management methods to slow down this process and find a solution to this sadness. There is lots of research happening right now that we need to closely observe and learn from. We can all take action to reduce the damage, something as straight forward as saying no to plastic will have a positive effect on out oceans.

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For me I want to try hard to live a sustainable life that is adventures and fun. Creating awareness of our environment with both my guests and my friends so that we can pass on the beauty and mysteries of the ocean to a new generation.

Join Kamey on a 7 Night Ocean Discovery Cruise, contact sales@secretparadise.mv for more information.

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The Importance of Responsible tourism, Sustainable tourism and Eco-tourism in the Maldives

When Secret Paradise was formed in 2012 local tourism was at the beginning of its journey and our co-founder, Ruth Franklin, was conscious that however we developed the business we needed to be mindful of ensuring we promoted local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs.  As many of you know Secret Paradise provides a range of unique guided local island multi tours as well as day tours and guesthouse accommodation options. All combining the beauty of the Maldives, with activities and cultural engagement.

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Over recent years the terms responsible tourism, sustainable tourism and eco-tourism have become common vocabulary within the travel industry and through discussions with our guests, but what do they actually mean?
There are countless interpretations of these terms floating around the internet and while there are a lot of overlaps between these terms, there are also significant differences.
The differentiation of the individual terms might not seem very relevant at first, but knowing the differences is especially important for businesses such as ourselves as well as for travelers wishing to ensure they book wisely and inline with their values.

Responsible Tourism
Responsible tourism refers to the way in which visitors, residents and businesses interact with a destination. This style of tourism should maximize the benefits to local communities and minimize negative social or environmental impact, helping local people to preserve fragile cultures and habitats.
In many instances it is reflective of those who choose to travel responsibly and foster a positive interaction between themselves and their chosen destination.
Examples include
• Choosing environmentally friendly products
• Respecting local customs and traditions
• Conserving energy
• Choosing and supporting local businesses
• Buying souvenirs that are produced locally.

 

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Sustainable Tourism
This is tourism that leads to the management of resources in such a way that economic, social, and environmental needs can be fulfilled.
In essence it is the stakeholders of a destination,  be that businesses such as Secret Paradise or governments and tourism related bodies who work to achieve and improve sustainability within their destination. Sustainable tourism is integral to the continued practice of the travel industry worldwide.
Examples include
• Conservation of resources such as water
• Reduction of waste
• Strengthening local production
• Protection of the environment
• Promoting local economy and securing jobs
• Involving local people in decisions that affect their lives.

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Ecotourism
Ecotourism is now defined by the International Eco Tourism Society as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015). Education is meant to be inclusive of both employees and guests.
The interests of the local population and a positive guest experience are the top priorities of ecotourism. Interference with nature, the local traditions and ways of life are to be kept to a minimum. One of the big advantages of ecotourism is that the majority of revenue produced flows into the local economy.
In essence ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainability.
Examples include
• Providing positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
• Providing direct financial benefits for conservation
• Generating financial benefits for both local people and private industry
• Designing, constructing and operating low environment-impact facilities.

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With people now able to travel to the remotest locations, tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world, one that employs countless people and keeps many nations afloat. Whilst there is an argument by environmentalists that international flights does nothing to support an individual’s green foot print, the United Nations state that annual international trips around the world are expected to double to 1.6 billion by 2020, a quarter of them by long-haul travelers. That’s a substantial figure isn’t it? So we think it is fair to say tourism will not be disappearing any time soon.

Travelers however increasingly want to take steps to cut their holidays’ environmental impact. We have seen this in the type of questions our guest’s ask and the activities and experiences our guests are looking for.
According to the 2019 Booking.com survey, 86% of global travelers would be willing to engage with activities that counteract the environmental impact of their trip – whether that be helping with beach cleaning projects or consciously booking more eco-friendly stays.
71% of travelers think that travel companies should offer consumers more sustainable travel choices
73% of travelers intended to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2019, up from 68% in 2018 and 65% in 2017.
Around 77% of all consumers state that they trust companies that produce or offer ethnically correct products.
The transition then from mass tourism to sustainable tourism is we would suggest not simply a temporary fad but an unavoidable step to combine our responsibility as a tour company  towards the environment, the needs of our guests and the economic interests of our destination and local communities.

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At Secret Paradise Sustainable and Responsible Tourism plays a very large part in what we do. We are mindful of ensuring we promote local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs and through education of both guests and locals we aim to protect the environment and limit where ever possible any negative impact to local life.

By staying in local island guest houses our guests are contributing to the local economy and increasing local employment. The properties we partner are run by local island families where everyone is instrumental in the day to day running of the guest house.
Buying locally made souvenirs and eating local produce means that local farmers and small businesses benefit. We recommend souvenir shops in Male that are off the main tourist route, where guests have the opportunity to buy locally crafted products as opposed to the imported souvenirs that are sold in standard tourist souvenir shops.
We attend and support local art and craft exhibitions and share on social media to create awareness to locals and guests alike.

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We provide employment, good working conditions, a fair wage and performance reviews for our local employees. Our guides are all Maldivian and with the exception of our Sales Director, our operations team are Maldivian. Not only does this ensure our guests get a real insight to Maldivian life, our guides achieve personal development through interaction with guests from different cultures and backgrounds. They also have the opportunity to participate in tour leader development programs available from our international partners.

Our guests travel the Maldives with one of our local guides who between them have years of local knowledge and expertise to share. They are passionate in sharing their country’s culture, history and tradition, as well as their own personal experiences.
Our tours are designed so that guests not only experience the natural beauty and participate in activities commonly associated with the Maldives but that they have the opportunity to learn about it’s people and culture first hand.

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Eco tourism and sustainable tourism has always been an integral part of our philosophy and part of our mission statement. As we have grown we have looked for opportunities where we can support local initiatives. We seek out ways to open up channels to allow Maldives based organisations, NGOs, marine-life charities the opportunity to interact with guests and in so doing increase their exposure to a wider audience.
Our guests can become actively involved in conservation programs and learn how they too can be responsible during their stay in the Maldives. We specifically developed an island hopping tour that incorporated volunteer opportunities in order that guests who wished can contribute to the environment by attending beach cleans or working on coral nurseries as well as enjoying a Maldives holiday.

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Both education and communication play a vital role in the growth of sustainable tourism. They allow people to make informed decisions, take considered actions and understand how their decisions and actions can impact a destination. We provide guests with pre trip information as part of the booking process to ensure they understand the requirements of travelling to a locally inhabited island. Social content provides information on local customs and requirements, particularly in relation to religion, dress, food and beverages and upon arrival our guests receive a further briefing from one of our guiding team which includes environmental and cultural awareness and highlights the opportunities they may have during the time with us to support local environmental initiatives.

We understand that sustainable tourism requires focus and adaption. It requires long-term thinking and realization that change is often cumulative and gradual. We also believe that in  a destination such as the Maldives it is our responsibility to make that difference and we are proud to have that responsibility and voice.

 

How Our Team at Secret Paradise are Making Sustainable Waves in the Maldives

Since 2012 we have been providing a range of unique Local Island multi day tours and holidays as well as day tours and guesthouse accommodation options. All combine the beauty of the Maldives, with activities and cultural engagement. We are delighted that  for the fifth year running we have been awarded the TripAdvisor certificate of Excellence and that we remain the number one provider of day tours in the capital.

There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by our guests and it is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business, out amazing guiding team and to our continued commitment to sharing our island experiences.

For those that have travelled with us you will know that responsible tourism plays a very large part in what we do. We are mindful of ensuring we promote local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs and through education of both guests and locals we aim to protect the environment and limit where ever possible any negative impact to local life.

Our team of tour guides have been specially selected for their commitment and passion to local island tourism and environmental initiatives, our TripAdvisor recognition would not be achieved without them.  Check out why some of our team do what they do and why we love to #letusguideyou

Engaging guests with local life, culture and traditions

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The best and unique aspect of my job with Secret Paradise is touring with our guests around this special Island paradise I am lucky enough to call home. They get to experience local culture and traditions like dining with a local family, sampling local foods that they would not get to experience in a local restaurant or café, interacting with local families and learning first hand how local island people live. My mission with each tour is to teach them at least 3 local phrases and pass on as much knowledge about our traditions and culture as I can so that they leave with a greater understanding of my island home.

Kokko Ibbe – Tour Leader

Educating guests on responsible snorkelling

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Responsible snorkeling is essential in the preservation of our coral reefs. Following the Green Fin protocol is not only for the safety and well-being of marine life and it’s habitat but our own as well. Think of entering the ocean as entering someone’s home.

Ahmed Mashir Ali – Tour Guide

Why work for Secret Paradise

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I’ve been working in the travel industry for more than five years and joined Secret Paradise just two months ago. I am really pleased to be working with a company that is committed to its employees. There are not many companies in the Maldives that can boast 100% local employment with the exception of one member of the team, who is the boss and we class as a local anyway!

Archie Athif – Tour Guide

Reducing the use of plastic

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Reducing plastic is a must for a cleaner safer environment for future generations. Saying no to plastic is something everyone must consider. Reducing the use of plastic is becoming easier with all the plastic replacement biodegradable/reusable products on offer and as part of our tour briefings as guides we highlight how plastic impacts our environment. We encourage our guests to support this fight on plastic by using reusable bags for shopping, re-fillable bottles for water and refusing plastic straws. Small actions making a difference.

UB Waseem – Tour leader

If you have any questions, require copies of the tour itineraries or just wish to seek advice do not hesitate to contact us.

You can view our Responsible Tourism Policy Here

Keep up to date with Secret Paradise news and offers by joining our Facebook family

 

 

Plastic Pollution, Marine Life and Sustainable Tourism with Secret Paradise Maldives, part 2

Following on from part one of Plastic Pollution, Marine Life and Sustainable Tourism with Secret Paradise Maldives we wanted to highlight some of the initiatives recently implemented by our accommodation partners on local islands.

All of our guesthouse accommodation is carefully selected to provide a balance of comfort, service, local atmosphere and value for money, as well as ensuring each property shares our values for responsible tourism and sustainability. So we are always delighted to see guesthouse partners coming together with tourists and local communities to make a difference.

Guraidhoo Island

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Guraidhoo is another forward thinking island with exciting eco initiatives introduced this year (2019). Their band new NO PLASTIC program has been introduced on the island and is being very well received by locals and visiting tourists. They knew when setting this up that the only way this would work is to involve all the community in the efforts including the local island children, local school, teachers, parents, Island council members, guesthouses, dive center, watersports center and the local island community.

They completed their first island clean up last month and collected a massive 1700kg of plastic; what amazing results – which ultimately will have a positive impact on our environment and the local island children’s futures, thanks guy and keep up the great work.

Guraidhoo Palm Inn our partner here have pledged to remove plastic drinking water bottles which is also forms part of our initiative in 2019 .

Dhigurah Island

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TME Retreat another property partner of Secret Paradise is taking the sustainable opportunities to a whole new level and as part of the #Earthday2019 celebrations they announced that TME Retreats will be producing its own water at Dhigurah. The water will be distributed to all the guests in refillable glass bottles and all guests will be able to fill their glass bottles from the water dispenser at the lobby free of charge.

Barefoot Eco Hotel

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The Barefoot Eco Hotel on Hanimaadhoo island has always followed the principles of eco-sustainability and conservation of the environment; that’s why we have always loved working with them. They actively educate their guests in reducing their eco footprint, their initiatives include:

  • Paper bio-degradable straws instead of plastic straws
  • Aluminium cans instead of plastic bottles
  • Reusable Aluminium bottles for senior staff
  • Yogurt served in ceramic cups instead of single use plastic containers
  • No more plastic bags: only juta or fabric bags
  • No more plastic sachets of coffee: Coffee now comes in paper bags

But how do you make a difference as a tourist when travelling abroad?

Most individuals are now trying to do their bit in the war against single use plastic particularly, but how can you continue your positive actions when travelling and at the mercy of the people and places visited?

Bring your own shopping bag

In the not so distant past here in the Maldives, every shop you made a purchase in, you were given a blue plastic bag. This is starting to be addressed but make life a little easier for the shop keepers and bring your own re-useable bag and say no to these wasted items.

Leeann and her friends showing nostraw needed to enjoy a kurumba on yesterday's Male walking tour

Say no to single-use plastic straws

If you are buying a drink in a café or bar say no to the plastic straw. We would love to give kudos to the places you visit who are embracing this so make sure you take a snap and #strawwasMV.

Bring your own water bottle

When you are travelling especially in the heat, you must stay hydrated but you don’t need to keep purchasing single use plastic bottles, ask a local café or bar to refill your water bottle. The local accommodation you stay in will be sure to assist you.

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Choose plastic-free destinations

If you are really serious about reducing your carbon footprint then choose destinations and places where they are taking the sustainable approach seriously. Reward those businesses who are committed to making a difference in their environment, like the ones we mentioned above.

Participate in cleanups

Our team of tour guides regularly participant in beach clean ups with local island residents and we encourage our guests to join us too. It is a fantastic way to meet the local community and also make a massive difference to the amount of plastic waste in the ocean.

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Spread the word

Don’t be shy, let people know what you are doing, if everyone takes small steps daily together we will make a huge difference.  We need to create awareness and let people know what do to and how to do it.

If you want your holiday to make a real difference why not think about a volunteer based visit, we offer volunteer trips with our partner Sunshade Maldives as well as a 14 night island hopping volunteer tour.

Plastic Pollution, Marine Life and Sustainable Tourism with Secret Paradise Maldives; part 1

Raising awareness about environmental issues seems to be on everyone ‘s agenda these days. But we all need to understand that this is not a short term project that needs a year or two focus only to fall by the way side when a new trend emerges.

But how do we all keep focused and ensure our efforts are not in vain?

At Secret Paradise we educate our guests in ways that encourage them to support local hotel and guest house programs. Our tour guides are our ambassadors, they lead by example every day in and out of work. For myself having worked and managed teams of over 200 people I have plenty of experience in how to continue to motivate and re-focus my team on our mission to make long lasting environmental change. These topics need to be spoken about on a regular basis, new initiatives need to be implemented and the existing initiatives need to be boosted every once in a while to bring it back to focus.

For example, in 2018 we launched our #strawwarmv initiative where local guest house owners and business operators were encouraged to replace the use of plastic straws in their business with other alternatives. We were delighted with the positive response we received from our local island partners, people all over were posting their photos online and tagging us using #strawwarmv. With our partner guest house owners fully committed to working with us to make sustainable changes we have challenged ourselves to look for additional ways we can work in partnership with properties to make changes.

Today on the last day of their Beach Break tour, Kavitha and her family were happy to join strawwarsmv and enjoy a coconut the traditional way, drunk without the aid of a plastic straw

This year we are taking our sustainable initiatives to the next level by introducing water coolers into a number of  our local guest houses encouraging our guests to re-fill their water instead of buying new bottles each day. This is something that is being introduced worldwide including in many popular coffee shops offering a small discount if the customer brings in their own travel mugs. It’s simple; it really doesn’t take that much effort but it will make such a huge positive impact on our environment not just in the Maldives but worldwide if we all make these small changes.

Working with local island guest house partners means that we also support a sustainable local community. You can image that with many islands as small as 1-2 square kilometres there is only so much employment available for local people. Many of them over the years have left their families to work in resorts but with the introduction of mindful tourism it means families have a choice and don’t have to live apart from one another because job opportunities are now available for them locally. You may wonder what do we mean by mindful tourism? Well many countries around the world have adapted to cater for the needs of tourists, this often means losing their local culture and traditions. At Secret Paradise we are determined to help maintain Maldivian traditions and local island culture by allowing our guests to be exposed to them through local island tours and engagement with locals. It benefits our guests greatly as they leave with a greater understanding of the Maldives and are also welcomed as family into the island homes, having the opportunity to learn how to cook a local meal and even dine alongside a local family. These amazing feasts are not to be missed! We’ve even had guests attend local birthday parties and weddings!

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Because we employ only local island tour guides it opens a new channel of communication between visiting tourists and local island people. They are keen to learn about their island visitors as our guests are to learn about their host’s local island life! This intrigue often results in islanders inviting guests and our tour guide into their homes, sharing stories and history of  each others cultures. Where else do you get to experience something so unique, educational and inspiring? For me it is essential that these traditions are kept alive and that the local islands never lose their culture and uniqueness. After all we are visitors to their country and their environment.

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In our next blog we will continue to showcase initiatives we have and are implementing at Secret Paradise in order to create a more sustainable environment in the Maldives.

To see our responsibility tourism policies <<click here>>

The Wonders of Maldives Seagrass

As you may have seen this week we pledged our support to to be a part of a growing coalition of environmentally-conscious resorts and organisations that recognises the importance of sea grass habitats in the Maldives.

I remember my first visit to the Maldives almost twenty years ago, the resort I stayed on had a very large area of sea grass and in the morning a member of the resort staff would come along and rake the beach, like raking up autumnal leaves back home.

Whilst I was not adverse to swimming in this area, what I didn’t appreciate at the time was the importance of these sea grass beds.

Did you know?

  • A sea grass meadow creates a home for up to 20 times more fish! Up to 100,000 fish can live in just one hectare of sea grass.
  • Sea grass produces oxygen, stabilises sediment, protects shorelines, and gives food and shelter to marine life.
  • One hectare of sea grass can be a home for up to 19 turtles.

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The story so far 

In 2016 the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) and Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), along with luxury resort Six Senses Laamu,  all joined together to demonstrate how sea grass and tourism can coexist and generate positive outcomes.

As their work gained momentum, the collaboration launched the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign, asking resorts, as well as the public, to pledge their support for the protection and preservation of sea grass beds in Maldives.

Marteyne van Well, Six Senses Laamu General Manager, explains the benefits sea grass has had on tourism since the resort pledged to help protect it almost two years ago. “Whether it’s watching green sea turtles feed meters from their villas or snorkeling alongside eagle rays, numerous guests have praised us for pledging to help protect our sea grass. This feedback from guests shows that sea grass and tourism can coexist – with overwhelming benefits to all parties”

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Why is Sea grass so important?

The following taken from The Edition’s Protecting the green that gives blue oceans life
explains why.

Seagrass, by definition, is a complex underwater flowering plant that can form dense underwater meadows. These beds of grass grow in lagoons around islands, providing habitat for megafaunas such as turtles, rays, sharks as well as innumerable numbers of fishes and invertebrates.

Although it grows on the sea floor, seagrass photosynthesises just like terrestrial plants and act as a carbon sink that converts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into oxygen. Moreover, sea grass helps to maintain healthy reefs and facilitates sustainable fisheries by providing a habitat for various marine animals.

In addition to this, the roots of sea grass dig deep into the sand holding the sea floor in place and protecting sandy beaches from erosion. Quite literally, these marine plants hold our islands in place.

Since sea grass is a completely different ecosystem from coral reefs, it is known to house certain marine creatures not typically seen in reef habitats. It is also a fun activity to search for signs of marine life within sea grass beds as many fishes and invertebrates hide under the canopy, and camouflage themselves by becoming all but invisible in their surroundings. Sea horses, a rare sighting in the Maldives, have been spotted hiding between the greenery of the grass beds surrounding Six Senses.

So should you take to the air and view the Maldives archipelago from your seaplane or domestic flight transfer or even as you arrive and depart on your international flight, look out for the handful of dark areas standing out against the aquamarine blue lagoons and remember that despite their insignificant appearance they are vitally important to the seas surrounding them and house an entire ecosystem within them.

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Join us and take a small step in a good direction.  Help secure the future of  Maldives sea grass and support our marine life, our coasts and our climate, go  to  #protectmaldivesseagrass  and add your name.

Want to learn more about seagrass book now to join us on our Discover Huraa day tour.

Banning Plastic Straws Will Not Be Enough: We Need To Clean The Ocean

There is a huge call to ban plastic straws all over the world and even celebrities have used their voices in the attempt to make this initiative known to a much wider audience and gain traction and support. Big brands such as Starbucks and Disney have joined the movement to ban straws as well. *Supporters of the plastics ban say that every year, more than 35 million tons of plastic pollution is produced worldwide and about a quarter of that ends up in the water.

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**Straws are consistently on the top 10 lists for marine debris collected every year during International Coastal Cleanups and the Maldives is no different as we have found from our own experience of beach clean ups. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more pieces of plastic in our ocean than fish (Secret Paradise Maldives). Last year alone, 1.4 million tourists visited the Maldives with each guest staying an average of 6 days. If each of those guests only had one drink served with a straw per day during their stay that is 8.4 million straws and that is most likely a conservative estimate.

That’s quite a staggering number if you think of it in this scale. When we use straws, we actually don’t really realize the effect of it to our environment. Thinking of it in this proportion and spreading such awareness, does really make you think. But will simply banning straws be enough to save our oceans? The answer is obviously NO! There needs to be a collective and conscious effort across individuals, businesses, organizations and governments as a whole.

Leeann and her friends showing nostraw needed to enjoy a kurumba on yesterday's Male walking tour

We think we could definitely do more than just refusing to use straws or banning the use of straws. On World Environment Day, June 5th 2018, Secret Paradise Maldives we invited all our partner guesthouse properties to pledge to STOP the use of plastic drinking straws in their guest houses.

However, there’s another problem hiding in plain view and that is the presence of micro-plastics in our oceans. Micro-plastics are the degraded particles sometimes seen floating as giant globs in the ocean being devoured by fish and seabirds. Imagine that on a larger scale and realize that these micro-plastics are degrading our oceans. At this point though, actions on an individual scale wouldn’t be felt anymore. There needs to be a massive and widespread awareness across all sectors and banning straws whilst a start is simply not enough.

What Else Can We Do At This Point?

We are living in a period of extraordinary times where plastics are all over us and the population dependence of plastics, especially on single-use plastics, is really alarming. We need concrete measures to rise above just banning straws. Here are some suggested steps that we and others feel could have a bigger impact:

  1. Make the producers pay for their waste. When we say pay, it should involve a hefty amount of money so they will be more responsible in their manufacturing practices.
  2. Make the consumers pay premium for plastics. – Increase the prices for plastics so people think twice before using it.
  3. Cut waste – shift from an opt-out to an opt-in model. Teach people responsibility, provide awareness and education.
  4. Go after the bigger cause, the root cause. – We need to look at the systems in place and determine where the disconnect is. Determine what we can do to solve the problem about cleaning our ocean at a much larger and effective way because let’s face it, just banning straws will not magically clean our oceans.
  5. Start a movement and make it less effort, more impact. – ***Environmentalists hope the movement will stir a larger conversation about runaway plastics pollution. Straw bans alone — which have been criticized for not truly reducing waste — will barely dent the flood of plastic spewing into the environment each year.
  6. Declare a massive clean-up drive. – Mobilize everyone to help clean our oceans – schedule a worldwide clean-up day and make sure to implement sustainable measures.

****To understand the magnitude of the environmental dilemma facing Earth, consider the explosion in the use of plastic bottles. Beverage companies produced 239 billion plastic bottles in 2004. That total had more than doubled by 2017 to 494 billion, and the trend continues, with plastic bottle production predicted to hit 594 billion by 2022, according to the market research firm Euromonitor International. That means bottlers will be churning out more than 1.6 billion every day.

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What we are doing at Secret Paradise Maldives is a good start and we will continue to support other initiatives. “This we know is the start of a long journey, but a journey that we hope will gather momentum and support across all local islands, not just with our partner guesthouses but with other businesses too. Our guiding team continually monitor properties on their tour visits as well as when we complete our annual property audits. This ensures that each guesthouse maintains its commitment to our initiative and offer support as necessary.We also speak with our guests upon arrival to encourage them to refuse plastic straws and bags”

How about you? How do you think we can clean our oceans?

 

 

*https://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/banning-plastic-straws-and-bags-isnt-enough-to-save-our-oceans-opinion-20181009.html

**https://secretparadisemaldives.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/are-our-efforts-in-the-maldives-to-reduce-plastic-waste-really-worth-it/

***/****https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/banning-plastic-straws-will-not-be-enough-fight-clean-oceans-n951141