The Six Senses resort in Laamu atoll has announced the opening of a ‘Sea Hub for Environmental Learning in Laamu’ (SHELL) at the resort’s beach on 1 March 2023, a multi-use space for offering curated, educational and immersive marine conservation experiences.
Covering 5,952 square feet, the hub will become the new home of the Maldives Underwater Initiative – a collaborative group of environmental organisations based in the resort consisting of resident marine biologists and partner NGOs The Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, and Olive Ridley Project. The hub will also house offices, marine laboratory, cinema room, kids’ zone, and a gallery exhibition space, and feature virtual and augmented reality technologies and conservation art, according to the resort.
“Healing the ocean requires understanding first. The 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,” said Marteyne van Well, Regional General Manager.
“This is the vision behind the Sea Hub for Environmental Learning in Laamu; to engage the hearts and minds of our guests, our local communities, and our hosts. Our wish is for us and our owners, HPL Hotels & Resorts, to leave a legacy in the Laamu Atoll, where science and leisure come together with one goal: to discover more and be inspired to protect our oceans.”
Guests will be able to explore local marine life at the central exhibition space whilst the MUI team will offer activities and presentations on their research and conservation efforts.
The central gallery, designed by Illuminate Productions in Singapore, boasts a high-resolution LED display floor and five educational viewing booths for kids and adults. The underwater scenes will be periodically updated with new footage captured by the resort’s dive team and diver hosts.
Highlights of the Kids’ Zone include an augmented reality sandbox which allows the users to change and redesign habitats and topography using projection mapping technology, and the ‘Draw Alive’, where children will be able to colour-in their favourite marine creatures and watch them swim and move throughout a virtual world on a large screen with the help of advanced animation technology.
Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs called the upcoming opening of the SHELL “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.”
“The SHELL is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Six Senses Laamu and the resort’s long record in marine conservation and community outreach. Our wish to make Laamu atoll a better place for generations to come has been our common vision of HPL, and that common vision has been the driving force behind what made this project come to life today,” said Stephen Lau, Chairman of HPL Hotels & Resorts.
“We hope aspiring marine biologists and budding conservationists will be inspired by the stories and research the SHELL is carrying out and that travelers and partners alike will wish to be part of the conservation journey. The SHELL helps us all give a voice to the atoll’s incredible marine ecosystems and our combined responsibility to protect it, now more than ever.”
Lawrence Menz, Project Manager of the SHELL, added: “Just like the hermit crab that moves into a larger shell when it outgrows the previous one, The Maldives Underwater Initiative by Six Senses Laamu also needs a larger space to call home, as the team is growing in size and ambitions. The SHELL will showcase the stunning marine environment that surrounds us, with breathtaking visuals and immersive and hands-on interactive experiences. We will be conducting innovative research in our new laboratory facilities that we hope will help us find the answers to, at least, some of Laamu’s questions.”
Philippa Roe, Head Marine Biologist, said: “Over the years, the MUI team has been working to establish Laamu as a hub for marine research and become an example for sustainable marine resource management in the Maldives. Having presented 12 research papers at the 2022 Maldives Marine Science Symposium focused on research on Laamu, the center’s facilities will allow us to make even greater strides toward understanding and helping the marine environment and reaching our goal. It is this information that has contributed to the establishment of six Marine Protected Areas in the atoll, and Laamu being designated a Mission Blue Hope Spot in 2021.”