The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, a resort that conducts environmental education since its inception in 2021, celebrates its annual conservation efforts as it steps into 2024.
EYE IN THE SKY DRONE TECHNOLOGY
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands’ ocean plastics’ monitoring program was initiated by resort naturalists and a progressive research community. The program works to conserve one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems with the use of drones. In partnership with British PhD researcher Melissa Schiele, drone technology was developed and deployed in and around the atoll to better understand the location and movement of ocean plastics. They were able to locate and remove the debris identified by drones.
In 2023 the resort’s naturalist team and dive network removed 19 ghost nets with an estimated weight of 1100kg. The resort also rescued five olive ridley sea turtles found entangled in abandoned nets. Two turtles were released immediately, with three rehabilitated by the Olive Ridley Project’s veterinary team at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in Baa Atoll, before reintroduction to the ocean.
Till date, the resort has achieved 751 drone flights aiding critical research into plastic aggregation, location of ghost nets and ongoing monitoring of wildlife. In a first-of-its-kind image collection and data processing project, data from the drone initiative was drawn for collaborative use to inform, educate and drive positive change long-term. Over 21 ocean species were observed in 2023.
JEAN-MICHEL COUSTEAU AMBASSADORS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM
The Ritz- Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is the first resort to host Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program in the Maldives. The resort continues to collaborate with the world-renowned oceanographic explorer and environmentalist to provide guest experiences, with preservation of the planet at its core.
In 2023 the program planted 40 coral frames as part of its coral regeneration initiative. 25 of these abundant nursery frames, and successful new habitats for ocean life, can be viewed by guests at the resort’s welcome jetty.
The resort will host Jean-Michel Cousteau in 2024 from 8th to 18th April for an educational residency which will include guest experiences and Q&As with the explorer.
As part of its Community Footprints’ programming, and with focus on environmental awareness for the planet’s future generations, the resort’s relationships with local schools enable visits with its naturalist teams to share research and educate.
In 2023 five educational excursions to local islands took place, including schools in Dhiffushi and Gaafaru. The visits took a deep dive into ocean conservation, from the environmental impact of ocean plastics, insights from the resort community’s drone research and shared observations of wildlife in the surrounding atoll. Presentations of ground-breaking research from the resort’s ‘Visiting Heroes’ program included the work of renowned shark scientist Gibbs Kuguru and his conservation work.
The resort engaged in ten global environmental dates, including World Shark Day, World Dolphin Day, Ocean Clean Up Day, and Earth Day. A continuation of its Community Footprints programming, 11 beach clean-ups invited guests to support ocean debris collection on resort shores and the local islands of Dhiffushi and Gaafaru.
The resort continues to grow its sustainable practices in its day-to-day operations, from increasing its production of renewable energy via its solar power infrastructure, purification of still and sparkling drinking water at its dedicated plant, treating greywater for landscaping, and a composting programme for daily food waste.
Organic amenities are replenished on-site, while the resort’s desalination plant reduces the amount of plastic imported into the country.