The amazing wonders of the Maldives. An ocean paradise both dependent on, and threatened, by one of the things that makes it so special, the sea...
A tiny nation dependent on the amazing blue waters of the Indian Ocean. There are about 1,190 islands over 871 kilometres with a population of a 606,8003. Of these islands there are only 298 square kilometres of dry land and only about 200 are inhabited.
It is truly a feast for the eyes of underwater life; sea turtles, sting rays, manta rays, reef sharks, whale sharks, plus a plethora of brightly colored tropical fish call this island nation home. The most amazingly clear water provides easy viewing of many of these sea creatures from your chosen island’s lagoon.
We stayed for 10 days and right out our door we saw sting rays, turtles, reef sharks and more blue, yellow, green fish than I could count. We did venture off the island for a day out and snorkeled with the majestic and rather curious Manta Rays.
The Manta Ray and Sting Rays - photo by Cee Cee
Threatened by the Sea - Rising Temperatures & Sea levels
These paradise islands main income is tourism, with over 1.5 million people visiting every year. The lure of coral reefs that form all the islands, the rich sea life, all the ocean has to offer, and all it protects, are in danger.
This amazing ecosystem is in a perilous position from rising sea levels, since 80 percent of its 1,190 coral islands are less than 1 meter above sea level, the lowest terrain of any country in the world, the entire county could be submerged by 2100 with 80% uninhabitable by 2050.
The rising sea levels, the rising temperature of the sea, the overall temperature of our earth is an impending disaster to these islands, perhaps seen here more than anywhere else I have traveled. But, and this is so important, it is also the place I have seen the most immediate impact and adoption of adaptations against climate disaster. Below I have listed 12 examples of environmental initiatives.
The location we stayed had a multitude of environmental initiatives in place and a quick look at other islands shows most, if not all, are initiating schemes to help mitigate the impending disaster.
Here is my list of what I saw and experienced:
Sea water Desalination plant (see image above)
Recycling/Sorting on island
Bathroom products - Ceramic bottles for bathroom products and wooden amenities
Movie night for SDG’s (UN Sustainabiltiy Development Goals) - specifically relating to the island environment.
Information and engagement with - World ocean day, World biodiversity day, World environment day, Earth Day, Global Recycling Day
Marine Biologist lead snorkelling trips around the island
Manta Ray and Sea Turtle Protection Scheme membership
Reef restoration around the island and only reef safe sunscreen allowed
Composting food waste - for use in gardens, veggie patch and pathways
Solar power – most newer resorts begin with solar power. The older ones need a little longer but the location we stayed was planning to change the staff compound to solar in the 2023 as a first start.
First floating city - was nearby (will not be the last)
Greenfins - a certification for diving and snorkelling centers to show they are committed to more sustainable diving and snorkeling practices (see below).
If we want to continue to enjoy the sea teaming with wonderful life, we need to keep in mind that we can help, by our actions, as we travel. Greenfins is a certification for diving and snorkelling centers. Make sure you only use these types of providers. Check out the website to educate yourself on how to ensure you dive in a mindful way.
Even if you are just into looking at the wonder, that is our deep blue sea, read about how much it does for us and interact with it in a sustainable way.
Top Tip - Arrivals and Departures Hall at the Airport
As a final note, and very helpful tip, when you make it to the Maldives. There are four separate sections to departure –
Arrivals Hall - this has a very long line outside,
Check in desks - again long lines,
Departures Hall - security check, long lines and
Top Tip - Fill out your forms beforehand
Everyone needs to fill out an immigration form before you arrive and again when you leave. The line can be long on departure and without your QR Code you have to exit the line, fill it out and re-join at the end of the queue.
Leave loads of time for departure and fill out the forms!
Oh, and as always, don't forget your travel log!