World Sea Turtle Week 202218 Jun 2022
Across our Prodivers bases, World Sea Turtle Week kicked off on the 8th of June with World Ocean Day, where guest divers and snorkelers were reminded of the beauty and importance of our world’s oceans during their dive and snorkel trips. Lois from Manta Trust on Hurawalhi gave a presentation to guests on “Our Blue Planet”, which she then gave to Kuredu guests on the 16th of June at Babuna Bar.
Throughout the week, Kuredu’s marine biologist, Emily, working with the Olive Ridley Project, ran educational Turtle Search trips for groups of 6 guests at a time. The sessions began with a presentation to raise awareness about sea turtle biology, the threats facing them worldwide and how guests can help, as well as her work researching the population in Lhaviyani atoll, followed by an hour long survey of Kuredu lagoon, which is home to the Maldives’ biggest known population of resident green sea turtles, during which guests learned to snorkel responsibly with sea turtles, and how to take identification photographs. Emily is able to recognise a lot of the regulars and can tell guests which turtle they are looking at (Coco, Charlie, Pumpkin, Gregory, Naoko for example), as well as how long they have been resident in the lagoon and quirks or personality traits unique to each one! These trips are available throughout the year, as the turtles are year round residents of the reefs and lagoons. Emily also joined a number of Prodivers’ dive and snorkel trips to carry out surveys and interact with guests about the wonder and plight of sea turtles.
Throughout the week Kuredu guests were invited to take part in a Sea Turtle Treasure Hunt photography competition, whereby 5 resident turtles’ photographs were displayed outside the Marine Center, and guests could go out snorkeling to try identify and photograph those exact 5! At the end of the week, the winners (a 4 way tie) had to compete to identify turtles on screen at the Sea Turtle presentation at Babuna Bar, where the winner was awarded a brand new underwater torch, generously donated by Prodivers!
Emily and our staff at Prodivers Kuredu were given a workshop by our dive master, Thasleem, on how to make bracelets from the plastic ghost nets (discarded or abandoned fishing nets that continue to float and harm marine life, notably olive ridley turtles) that the Olive Ridley Project is working hard to retrieve from the oceans. They were then able to make a number of beautiful bracelets which were on display in the dive center where guests could choose one to take home, for a cash donation towards the Olive Ridley Project’s conservation and rescue efforts in Lhaviyani atoll. We even had one very enthusiastic and creative guest, who came in to help, she made 5 gorgeous and very professional bracelets which were quickly snapped up by other guests!
On 13th June, Emily went over to Hurawalhi to join Prodivers’ Turtle Tour, where she taught guests about sea turtle biology, the threats facing them worldwide and her work researching the population in Lhaviyani atoll. Emily, Lois and Kat, the Manta Trust reps based on Hurawalhi, then took the group of 8 guests snorkelling in Kuredu lagoon, home to the Maldives’ biggest known population of resident green sea turtles, where they found and photographed 9 individual green sea turtles! That evening Emily returned to Hurawalhi to give a presentation on the “What, where, why and how-to-help of sea turtle conservation”, which received great feedback and guests were impressed to learn about the Olive Ridley Project’s all important work researching and conserving sea turtles in the Maldives.
The week culminated on the 16th of June, World Sea Turtle Day, where 6 lucky divers joined a turtley-2-tank dive boat visiting 2 of Lhaviyani’s most turtley dive sites, Kuredu Express and Kuredu Caves. On their dive at Caves they, along with a dive group from Prodivers Komandoo, were treated to the once in a lifetime sighting of 2 large green sea turtles mating, and a second male competing! This is such a rare sighting to encounter underwater on a dive, all the divers, guides and sea turtle biologist Emily were in awe! It gives us hope for the future of sea turtles, and hopefully we get some turtle nests laid in Lhaviyani soon! The day continued with a World Sea Turtle Day snorkel boat with Emily, going back to Caves with 10 snorkelers, and although the mating adults were no longer around, they were treated to 4 green sea turtles swimming in and out of their resting spots. The highlight of the day was the Sea Turtle presentation by Emily at Babuna Bar, which was very well attended by a large number of Kuredu guests, who learned about all things sea turtle, including the threats facing them, how they can help, and the exciting milestones reached in her research of the Lhaviyani population of turtles, and work rescuing entangled turtles from ghost nets. She then took the presentation over to Komandoo island on the 18th of June.
We have received a lot of very positive feedback about the week’s activities and presentations, with guests being impressed with our dedication to sea turtle conservation, the work done by our partner charity Olive Ridley Project and our marine biologist Emily’s passion and enthusiasm for her work, knowledge and love for the individuals she is studying so closely around Kuredu, she was even given the nickname Bubbly Emily by one guest who attended her talk! It is motivating to see so many guests excited to learn about sea turtles and getting actively involved in our conservation efforts with the Olive Ridley Project! If you are not familiar with our partner charity, check out their website where you can read up about sea turtles, take an e-learning course, donate towards a worthy cause and even adopt and name a wild sea turtle, or one of the turtle patients being treated at their Rescue Center!