It is important to take care of the lovely blue expanse that surrounds the Maldives’ tiny flecks of land. The dangers of climate change are especially greater for low-lying island nations like the Maldives. In an effort to give young adults a comprehensive introduction to cutting-edge marine research in one of the world's richest oceanic regions, the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, which has dedicated more than 15 years to its UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve home, has introduced a new series of Trainee Marine Biologist modules.
The six one-day, one-to-one modules, which are intended for students between the ages of 15 and 19, serve as a serious foundation for young people with an interest in science, those who are thinking about pursuing a career in marine biology, or anyone who has a sincere desire to interact closely with nature.
Each module offers a deep dive into what it takes to be a Coral Biologist, Dolphin Biologist, Turtle Biologist, Aquarist, Plankton Biologist, or Manta Biologist by combining hands-on activities with in-depth take-home readings. Each privately taught module can be reserved as a single-day event and stands alone.
Trainees receive an in-depth understanding of the Resort's conservation initiatives by working with the resort's knowledgeable Marine Savers marine biologists, on-site veterinarian, and specialists from The Manta Trust. Activities could involve detecting and identifying nearby cetaceans, raising artemia and rotifers at the Fish Lab, recovering injured turtles, utilizing artificial intelligence to monitor coral reef restoration, and helping to protect the world's largest known population of manta rays.
“We know from experience that actively engaging youngsters with marine environments is key to inspiring long-term conservation efforts,” said Simon Dixon, Manager of Landaa Giraavaru’s Marine Discovery Centre. “Our trainee modules offer an in-depth experience of life in our field and are a great foundation for anyone with a passion for environmental action. It’s the kind of training I would have loved in my own youth.”
The modules are as follows:
Trainee Coral Biologist
A unique insight into the incredible underwater world of coral reefs – the most diverse of all marine ecosystems – and how to help ensure their survival. Alongside the resident Coral Biologist, trainees will take part in every aspect of the coral restoration project, from preparation and transplanting to photography and uploading.
Trainee Dolphin Biologist
An opportunity to be part of the conservation story of the Maldives’ much-loved marine mammals: dolphins and whales. Working alongside the Dolphin Biologists, trainees will find out all about these magnificent creatures, go on a cruise to track their movements around the islands, and take and process photos to identify individuals.
Trainee Turtle Biologist
Sea turtles have been found throughout the world’s oceans since around the time of the dinosaurs – with the exception of the polar seas – but now six of their seven species are at risk of extinction. Alongside the resident Turtle Biologist, trainees will learn about sea turtle anatomy and biology, the threats they face in the wild and what can be done to help conserve them.
This module takes a closer look at some of the smaller organisms that inhabit the underwater world. From plankton to clownfish, rotifers to jellyfish, each plays a part in ensuring healthy ecosystems that sustain life. A fascinating introduction to the work in the Fish Lab, this module highlights the dangers and threats facing each species and explores how we can help ourselves by helping the oceans.
Trainee Plankton Biologist
A chance to discover the role these incredible organisms play in our lives, from providing the oxygen we breathe to helping us track climate events and understand the migration of large sea animals. Trainees will be part of the first long-term, continuous plankton survey in the Maldives – and, to the best of the program’s knowledge, in any global UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – and help contribute to a model of plankton diversity and biomass that will hopefully expand into a national database.
Trainee Manta Biologist
An insight into the secret lives of the gentle giants of the Maldives: manta rays. Trainees will spend time with these majestic animals and learn how the Manta Ray Biologists work to conserve and protect the local manta ray population. This module enables trainees to become a part of the team’s research journey, from photo identification to helping monitor size, behaviour and even pregnancy.
The Trainee Marine Biologist courses are the most recent advancement in the resort's 15 years of marine education and research. Other accomplishments include the most successful coral reef regeneration project in the Maldives, the founding of the Maldivian Manta Ray Project in 2005 (which later became the global Manta Trust), the opening of the first turtle rehabilitation centre in the Maldives in 2011, the rehabilitation of more than 340 injured sea turtles (including six that were adopted abroad), and the identification of 350+ cetaceans through the Dolphin ID Project.
The research team operates out of a dedicated exhibition and research space that includes a Turtle Rehabilitation Center and Fish Lab. They also organize Dive Against Debris and other ocean clean-up events, present their research at international symposiums and local festivals, work with local and international partner projects and organizations, welcome Maldivian schoolchildren for educational marine conservation days, and lead daily guest snorkelling excursions.