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Responsible Tourism Award for MUI

February 5, 2020 - The Maldives Underwater Initiative at Six Senses Laamu was honored with the ‘Best for Wildlife and Nature Conservation’ Award for its #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign at the World Travel Market’s Responsible Tourism Awards.

As part of our sustainability commitment and “Responsible & Caring” value, in 2017, Six Senses Laamu recognized the ecological importance of seagrass habitats. It pledged to play a more active role in conserving the seagrass meadows in the Laamu Atoll through its Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI).

MUI’s work encompasses all of the marine research, education and community outreach by Six Senses Laamu and its three NGO partners, including Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), the co-initiator of the campaign.   

Bringing back the megafauna

In a 2018 survey, MUI found that on average, Six Senses Laamu guests saw at least 11 megafauna (turtles, sharks, and rays) in the seagrass around their villa within a stay of four days. This information helped to convince other resorts in the Maldives to protect the seagrass meadows around their islands by demonstrating that seagrass attracts megafauna and in turn, enhances guest experiences.

Tourism needs seagrass

In 2019, the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign rallied one quarter of all resorts across the country to join the cause and pledge protection of over seven million square feet (655,000 square meters) of seagrass, the equivalent of 90 football fields. In addition, the Maldives Ministry of Tourism officially endorsed the campaign, illustrating that tourism and seagrass can in fact coexist and even flourish.

“Caring for local communities and ecosystems and promoting responsible tourism are our core beliefs. With the number of new resorts being developed in the Maldives, it is vital that tourism is conducted sustainably to protect the country’s unique marine environment. Our guests come from all over the world to witness the unique biodiversity and see turtles and rays in their natural home during their stay,” commented Marteyne van Well, general manager of Six Senses Laamu.

Underwater ultrasound breakthrough

MIU also brings together some of the great minds in veterinary technology. In 2017, a collaborative effort with imaging leaders IMV Imaging, the Manta Trust, Vetsonic (UK) Ltd and the University of Cambridge Veterinary School led to the production of a device that could ultrasound scan Laamu’s resident population of reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi). Duo-Scan:Go Oceanic is the first ever technology to allow contactless scanning of wild marine animals at depths of up to 98.5 feet (30 meters). Laamu is home to 125 reef manta rays, which display courtship behavior during two periods each year: May to June and October to November. Each year the Manta Trust has identified between one and 11 pregnancies. The portable dive rig enables the team to scan wild pregnant reef manta rays in order to study gestation and embryonic development in the wild and guide conservation strategies for this threatened species.

Marine Conservation Presentations

Every day (except Fridays) at Six Senses Laamu, MUI marine biologists present on various marine conservation topics in the Ice Cream Parlor. You can find out about some exciting facts on manta rays, turtles, whales and dolphins, sharks, coral reefs and sustainability practices.

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