This year, Save The Beach Maldives, in collaboration with The University of Genoa and Albatros Top Boat, hopes to launch its most ambitious project to date. It is not only the first ever local expedition of this kind but is an extension of our on-going projects on a nationwide scale – the Turquoise Expedition: an intensive programme of research from the North to the South of the Maldives, providing education and training to local communities along the way.
Our partner for the Turquoise Expedition, The University of Genoa, has been in the forefront of Maldivian reef research, having surveyed Maldivian reefs for the past 19 years. The UNDP, Marine Research Centre of Maldives, the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Ministry of Education endorse the expedition and trainings.
The Turquoise Expedition aims to educate the public on the importance of conservation in the face of changing climate and impacts to the environment caused by human actions such as pollution. Training will focus specifically on waste management and reef research methods. Tool kits and manuals will be shared with the schools and systems can be implemented at their own pace. Trainings will also be carried out on turtle protection and identification protocols.
Targeted towards creating international and local hype, excitement and support, a Reality Weekly TV Show documenting the Expedition – will run for three seasons. We hope this local TV production once promoted both locally and internationally, will ultimately encourage more people to be involved in conservation projects, as well as spread awareness about environmental mishaps that are currently happening and empower the public to do something about it.
The entire project aims to increase public participation in conservation through various activities to experience the oceans. Trial dives, guided snorkelling and other interactive activities will be carried out during our island visits in addition to a much-anticipated local ocean competition amongst all 26 atolls – The Badhavee Challenge. We hope to host a grand Turquoise Festival at a location close to the Capital City, Male’ this year, to ensure that we gather as much support as possible before embarking on the second portion of the Expedition.
Ultimately what we, as an organisation learnt about conducting awareness programmes and implementing conservation efforts, led us to believe that there is a great deal more to be done, before true change can be affected. We, as environmentalists, are still a minority in a nation that is not only plagued with environmental issues but it is also arguably one of the most susceptible lands to the devastating effects of environmental change, as its people are 100% dependent on the stability of its environment for their livelihood. If the people of Maldives were truly well educated about their environment and the disastrous events taking place around them, we believe that they would understand that it is their best interest to protect and conserve it.
It is this dream that gave life to the Turquoise Expedition. The expedition aims to travel to all 26 geographical atolls in the Maldives, visiting the most populated islands for 2-3 days each, in order to empower the local communities across the country to take matters into their own hands and to protect the environment that sustains them. While we conduct reef checks, waste audits and compile vital scientific knowledge for a national database, we also absolutely hope to bridge the gap between Maldivians and the beautiful beaches, reefs and marine life that they are blessed with and to foster a deeper appreciation for what we take for granted every day.