During his visit to both properties, Shameel led guest excursions with an introductory briefing to turtle biology, ecology and threats and conservation with special focus on the Olive Ridley project. Collaborating with our in house children, we created an arts and crafts session focused on the theme of threats to sea turtles. He also conducted awareness sessions for staff to engage our islanders in turtle protection; turtle rescue and first aid for our transport team and nest and egg protection for our gardening and security team. As part of our commitment to our local communities, Shameel visited both Dhonfanu and Goidhoo islands to provide information sessions to the school children in Dhivehi.
Between the two properties, we raised over $1,000 for the Olive Ridley Project as part of our yearly donation scheme. At Amilla, we identified over 46 hawkbill turtles, 1 green turtles including a turtle with a missing flipper and one with a deformed shell equaling a total number of 71 sightings. During his visit at Finolhu we identified 4 hawksbill sea turtles and 11 green sea turtles on our turtle excursions. Also at Finolhu we encounter one hawksbill with missing flipper and we were really lucky to swim with one of our few male hawksbill turtles. A total of 32 turtles were encountered. Some would say this is turtle-tastic! Luckily during this time, we rescued an olive ridley juvenile turtle from a ghost nest with the help of Milaidhoo island resort. This turtle has injuries to its flipper and was safely transported to the turtle hospital to see the registered vet at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu.
During his time at Finolhu, a green turtle nest hatched. It was a nice coincidence that one of our green turtle nests on the long sandbank of Finolhu was ready to hatch. On 14th April 111 baby green turtles were running over the beach into the ocean. A once in a lifetime experience for many of our guests and a first for Shameel as well. With protecting any kind of sea turtles, if rescuing olive ridleys out of ghost nets to securing baby green turtles a safe way over the beach (without crabs and sea birds eating them) we might be able so safe these species from extinction.
The Olive Ridley Project was founded in 2013 in response to the large amounts of entangled Olive Ridley sea turtles they encountered in the Maldives. They wanted to understand the phenomenon of Olive Ridley sea turtles drifting into the Maldives entangled in ghost nets and identify where the ghost nets originate from.
In the Maldives fishing is done mainly with line & pole. Ghost nets found in Maldivian waters most likely drifted here with the currents. The Olive Ridley Project aims to protect and preserve the Indian Ocean from ghost nets by actively removing discarded fishing nets, rescuing and nursing entangled turtles back to health; educating local and scientific communities about the issue; identifying the origins of the ghost nets and target these location to change their fishing techniques; and promoting end of life recycling of fishing nets.