For decades, the dream of the digital revolution was the eco-friendly paperless office. Yet, despite the profusion of connectivity and devices, dead trees still seem quite prevalent in the world of administration. You can understand that there are just some areas and applications where electronic record keeping is just impractical. Like on a dive boat where water is sloshing around and the risk of loss is high. Still, despite the extra obstacles of its environment, the Sea Explorer dive centre Reethi Faru is one of the most radically paper-free operations I have come across.
And they have not had to invest tons of money into fancy applications and sophisticated electronics. Just some clever approached. Their innovation is simply to laminate all their forms and fill them out with easy-wipe markers. Once completed, the centre takes a smartphone picture of the phone and saves it electronically. Simples. They use this technique for their registration forms, nitrox logs, dive logs and every part of their business that needs something completed and recorded.
Not just a “Best of the Maldives”, but possibly the Best of the Best from the 2019 Tour, or at least the most enduring, as both Lori and I are still wearing ours back in Blighty – Ghost Net Bracelets. Faarufushi’s Marin Biologist Giulia Pellizzato working on retrieving “Ghost Nets” – fishing nets that have gotten snarled or caught up and so the fishermen just abandon them in the water where they continue to trap and kill sea creatures.
The nets themselves are made of nylon and so Giulia wanted to come up with a way to upcycle them rather than have them add to the landfill of the Maldives. She decided to unravel the strands of plastic twine that they were made of, and use that material to make some woven bracelets. The process is a bit labour intensive so she has a small stock now. She gives them out as a reward to guests who help her with her reef survey work on the island.
The blue and green of the material, coloured that way by design to blend into the ocean when fishing and not scare away the fish, evoke the tapestry of colour which makes up the Maldivian seascape. I’m not a big accessory person, but there is something heart-warming about wearing something that was removed from the Laccadive Sea and is now on my wrist rather than snaring turtles, dolphins and other tragically unfortunate ocean friends.
With the help of MIT, the Maldives are looking for some “homegrown” islands themselves. A study taking place at Taj Exotica, is investigating ways for islands to build themselves: “MIT’s bold plan to save the Maldives–and the world”. Ocean currents notoriously strip shorelines and sandbars taking their material away. The “Growing Islands” Self-Assembly Lab is looking at ways to turn that ocean force to advantage, but instead to get it to deposit sands onto the islands to build them up.
The Netflix series “Our Planet” is the latest in the David Attenborough wildlife adventures with an increasing emphasis on its fragility and need for preservation. Soneva Fushi introduces a slate of its own budding guides to the natural world of its own little plot of sand in the middle of the ocean with its Change-Maker series and the efforts they are undertaking to preserve this little corner of our planet…
“Films that highlight how we’re recognising and tackling some of the issues greater than ourselves; told by the Change-Makers of Soneva. These amazing individuals represent everything we stand for – recognising that it’s their role to be part of the positive change we want our planet to see. From Ellie Butler, Soneva Jani’s Marine Biologist tackling ocean plastic to Chef Kevin Fawkes, who creates dishes beyond our wildest imagination with ingredients from our organic garden.”
Inventive electronic gizmos to help you see go to new depths at the Six Senses Laamu reefs where they have introduced underwater ultrasound. No, not another bizarre underwater activity designed for babymooners, but a thoroughly innovative technology to research the gestation of baby mantra rays.
“The Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) at Six Senses Laamu…facilitated introductions between the creators of the world’s first non-invasive underwater ultrasound scanner and provided a site for field testing…Two years ago, MUI brought together some of the great minds in veterinary technology and challenged them to create a device that could ultrasound scan Laamu’s resident population of reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi). ‘MUI aims to be a marine conservation visionary,” says Marteyne van Well, Six Senses Laamu general manager, ‘One of the ways we’re leading conservation efforts in the Maldives is by providing a platform for discussions on, and the field testing of, this world-first technology.’..IMV Imaging’s 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), while also being portable (the dive rig weighs less than 4.5 pounds (2 kilograms). The aim of bringing this technology to Laamu was to scan wild pregnant reef manta rays in order to study gestation and embryonic development…Laamu is home to 125 reef manta rays, which display courtship behavior during two annual courtship periods: May-June and October-November. Each year the Manta Trust has identified between one and 11 pregnancies…Manta Trust researchers have been field testing the Duo-Scan:Go Oceanic in Laamu for the past year and a half. Over this period, they successfully developed approach methods and obtained ultrasound scans of wild pregnant and non-pregnant reef manta rays.”
What you don’t want to find on your underwater Maldives adventure is a bunch of ugly and harmful plastic. People around the world and no less so in the Maldives itself are re-examining how they use plastic and looking for non-plastic alternatives. One option to throwing out plastic straws, it to have a re-usable, non-plastic straw. That was the objective of FinalStraw which is like the straw that James Bond would have (if he drank his martini that way).
Kudos to Kuredu for being the first resort to introduce this elegant innovation to a challenge affecting very close to their home…
“Now available for guests, FinalStraw allows guests to take our commitment to reduce single-use plastics beyond Kuredu Island Resort, and provides great souvenir as well.”
The roof over Kudadoo’s over water pavilion sets a new standard for solar ambition. The Champa resorts keep upping the bar on the solar investment across their estate after their snaking jetty of panels at neighbouring Hurawalhi. The 320-kWp solar system generates enough electricity to power the entire resort:
“Committed to your well-being and that of the planet, Kudadoo reinvents sustainability – we take pride on the island being powered by the sun 100%, and on eco-conscious choices that intertwine the design, conceived by the architectural mastermind Yuji Yamazaki, and adventures to create a luxury experience that threads lightly.”
With all of these energy sustainability investments in the country, I’ve add a new “Solar” tag for all of the sun powered initiatives in this sun-drenched destination.
Not the Martha and the Muffins classic, but a new perspective on beach beauty by Six Senses Laamu who are preserving vibrant marine life even if it means much bigger landscaping budget (thanks Paola):
“It takes a lot of effort to maintain the picture perfect white beaches and powder blue turquoise lagoons at tourist resorts. Many of the resorts in the Maldives actively destroy their seagrass beds to maintain this facade. Six Senses Laamu has changed this attitude and are now actively promoting the protection of their seagrass beds as they are a haven for megafauna including green sea turtles, sting rays and baby sharks in addition to being a nursery for juvenile fish, providing oxygen, storing carbon, improving the health of adjacent coral reefs and preventing erosion of the island.”
The resort clarifies that “We have a team of gardeners at Six Senses Laamu that rakes the beach and place the dead seagrass in the jungle so that it can still contribute its nutrients to the coastal system, while also ensuring guests can use the beaches.”
For an helpful introduction to the importance of sea grass in the Maldives, check out the video below.
“Going green” is common practice for Maldives resorts who very existence if so dependent on and interwoven with the surrounding natural beauty. But I’ve never seen quite as much “green” as Hurawalhi’s staff compound wall. Nearly all resorts have segregated staff areas where a lot of the machinery of the resort is situated and the staff can conduct their lives freely (eg. walk around in their casual clothes instead of smart uniforms). A number of resorts make an effort to dress these walls or fences up a bit so they blend into the surrounding a bit more, but few have gone to the length of Hurawalhi with their greenery wrapped enclosure.
“The world’s largest and the Maldives first 3D-printed reef was installed by a resort at the weekend, with the technology being used to help protect coral reefs. The artificial reef, assembled with hundreds of ceramic and concrete modules, was submerged in seven metres of water in a part of the lagoon where Summer Island Maldives is building a new coral reef ecosystem…The project started in Australia, where industrial designer Alex Goad of Reef Design Lab used computing modelling to design reef structures similar to those found naturally in the Maldives. A 3D printer took 24 hours to print moulds which were then cast in ceramic, an inert substance similar to limestone rock, and shipped to the Maldives. They were filled with marine concrete on the resort’s beach before being taken into the lagoon and assembled. Like a giant aquatic LEGO set the 220 ceramic, concrete-filled moulds were slotted together underwater to create the new reef. Coral fragments, grown on the resort’s existing and extensive coral nursery, were transplanted onto the 3D reef. In a few years, when the corals have colonised the reef, the resort wants a new reef teeming with fish and other marine life. If the 3D printing technology proves successful, it could be a new way of helping coral reefs adapt to a warming climate.”