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January 19, 2023 - Like hermit crabs that change shells when outgrowing their previous, The Maldives Underwater Initiative at Six Senses Laamu also needs a larger space to call home. As the team grows in size and ambitions, they have unveiled a new ‘SHELL’.
Six Senses Laamu recently celebrated the unveiling of the Sea Hub for Environmental Learning in Laamu (SHELL), which is ready to make waves and venture out to new shores on March 1, 2023. Located on the resort’s sunset beach, the new building will house the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI), a marine conservation collaborative involving Six Senses Laamu’s marine biologists and partner NGOs; The Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, and the Olive Ridley Project.
Regional General Manager, Marteyne van Well, says that healing and preserving requires understanding, “Environmentalist Baba Dioum once said, ‘In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.’ So, let us teach; let us educate the new generation on the importance of nature conservation.”
The SHELL offers a much bigger space to support bigger initiatives, education programs and community outreach, covering a total of 5,952 square feet (553 square meters). Science, marine conservation, and education combine with hospitality within this ever-growing shell. We’re enhancing the hub further with gallery exhibitions, a marine laboratory, a cinema, a kids’ zone and virtual and augmented reality technologies and art.
A 506 square-foot (47 square-meter) amphitheater displays the stunning underwater world as a backdrop for the team to tell their stories of the land and waters of Laamu and present their findings to guests and scientific peers.
The central gallery, the Tank, proposes a high-resolution LED display floor and five educational viewing booths featuring diverse underwater scenes of the Laamu atoll to give insights into selected micro-topics on marine life.
The Kids’ Zone is created for the young of heart and budding marine conservationists. An augmented reality sandbox allows users to experiment and redesign habitats and topography using projection mapping technology, and the ‘Draw Alive’ entices children to color in their favorite marine creatures and watch them come alive and swim throughout a virtual world.
To mark World Seagrass Day on March 1, 2019, MUI, and Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) launched the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign to preserve seagrass at all resorts in the Maldives. Subsequently, MUI was honored with the ‘Best for Wildlife and Nature Conservation’ Award for its #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign at the World Travel Market’s Responsible Tourism Awards.
In 2020, Six Senses Laamu launched the home-based Junior Marine Biology program during global travel restrictions. Although the program is slightly different to what children might enjoy on vacation in the Maldives, the objective remains the same: to help foster an understanding of marine biology and the importance of marine conservation.
The Laamu Atoll was designated as one of the planet's Hope Spots by the international non-profit organization, Mission Blue, in the following year, 2021. Hope Spots highlight Laamu’s unique marine ecosystems and how they are proven to hold significant ecological, economic, and cultural importance. Shortly after within the same year, MUI became recognized as Marine and Coastal category winner at the 2021 Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards, the second Skål trophy on display at Six Senses Laamu after the resort was crowned winners of the same category in 2018.
Conservation doesn’t happen overnight, and requires a combination of scientific research, community support, and international understanding. The SHELL aspires to bring together all these elements in an innovative way.
“The opening of the SHELL at Six Senses Laamu is a milestone moment for the resort and the company overall, as it truly represents the passion for the ocean environment and biology, a key agenda item for Marteyne and her team. We are equally delighted and excited at how Six Senses, through the SHELL, is bringing to life our company values in the beautiful and fragile Maldives ecosystem,” shares Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs.