In celebration of this year’s World Environment Day, Save the Beach,a Maldivian NGO, hosted a 2-days awareness event at Villigili, a local island near Malé, called One Nation Coral Revival.
Coco Collection’s Marine Biology Intern Jesse Carrizzo had the chance to attend the event representing the Olive Ridley Project and he is keen to share his experience with Coco Cares followers.
The One Nation Coral Revival event was created to educate the public about environmental issues and restore the coral reefs surrounding Viligili island.
The event was filled with games, water sports, good food, good music and most importantly environmental awareness! I went to the event representing the Olive Ridley Project, Coco Collection Resorts’ partner.
Upon arrival myself and Kaia, a local working for the Marine Research Center, set up the Olive Ridley Project booth. We really wanted it to have a profound environmental effect on our audience.
Kaia created an amazing turtle sculpture made of discarded metal, bottles, ghost nets and a nice big coconut for the head. The booth was covered with nets: it was almost impossible to enter the interior! It really showed how cluttered our oceans are and how easily it is for marine life, especially sea turtles, to get entangled.
I also conducted a mini experiment to show the effects of disposable plastic water bottles on our planet: every bottle I drank I tangled in the nets of our booth, eventually there were so many hanging I couldn’t fit anymore!
Our Olive Ridley Project booth attracted a lot of attention and I was able to inform many people about the affects of ghost nets. But most importantly I explained that anyone and everyone could help by simply removing a net from the Ocean!
I also encouraged all to perform citizen science, which is data collection that requires no scientific degree or training: when they collect a net they will take a sample and send us measurements, it is so simple!
ORP can then use this information to locate the responsible fisheries.
Once we know the fisheries responsible we can work with them to find solutions to avoid more ghost nets entering the ocean such as creating a no-blame gear loss reporting and gear return system near ports. This gives fisheries incentives for properly disposing of nets and helps us find problematic fisheries. Hopefully this will stop nets from entering the water and wreaking havoc.
Day one of the event was filled with reporters and camera crew interviewing each stand. I was also able to meet government officials from the these Ministries and make them aware about this problem and provided them with further information on the cause. Hopefully they will be able to address this issue in the Maldives.
On the second day of the event I was able to give a presentation to locals and students about the Olive Ridley Project. Afterwards many students were very eager to find out how they can get involved and help the environment. I’m happy that I was able to reach out to these students and get them so excited about this cause.
I hope to one day see these student posting on social media about how they just rescued a sea turtle from a ghost net and were able to remove it from the ocean.
Besides spreading awareness I had a lot of fun and learned a lot!
There were many other tents spreading different types of environmental awareness such as Damage Control, the EPA, the Marine Research Center, Green Fins, Resort Environmental Initiatives, Manta Trust and much more.
Kaia and I had a great time planting corals and participating in water sports activities. Of course we did not miss the chance to join the banana boating, canoeing and paddle boating sessions. We definitely had an amazing time!
It is always a great feeling to provide fun in an educational way.
This event was very enlightening and plus a lot of fun; I would encourage all to attend the next year One Nation Coral Revival!