Marine Biologist, Oriana Migliaccio’s devotion to oceanic preservation resonates deeply within the waters of Maldives. Oriana is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with a PhD in Life and Biomolecular Sciences.
Oriana’s youth was spent in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, which is a rich biodiversity hotspot. She frequently spent winter breaks at the aquarium. “It is this deep love for the marine world that got me interested from an early age in pursuing a career in marine biology,” she reflects.
Following her passion, Oriana earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Marine Biology in Italy. Her journey then brought her to Maldives for an additional Master’s in Tropical Marine Biology.
The allure of tropical environments steered her focus towards specializing in coral reef biology and conservation. This newfound dedication resulted in her earning a PhD in the United Kingdom, solidifying her commitment to preserving marine ecosystems.
Oriana’s expertise, honed in the jungles of Borneo as a Conservation Manager and Dive Leader, now flourishes at Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, and Naladhu Private Island Maldives. Her initiatives span coral reef restoration, sea turtle protection, and sustainable practices, all pivotal to the region’s marine ecosystem.
A crowning achievement is her creation of the “Reef Hero” PADI specialty, a course designed to educate divers on coral conservation, nurturing a new wave of ocean stewards. “I created the ‘Reef Hero’ course during my time as a marine biologist and dive instructor in Malaysian Borneo.” said Oriana.
“This course, focusing on coral reef restoration and rehabilitation, was inspired by my diving students’ desire to positively impact the oceans they love exploring. Witnessing the adverse effects of marine issues like debris, overfishing, pollution, and global warming, this inspired me to create guidelines that can be used by recreational divers to save coral reefs around the world.”
CONSERVATION EFFORTS AT ANANTARA PROPERTIES
In April 2023, Oriana joined Anantara, where her role transcends traditional boundaries, as she immerses guests in a world of marine wonders through various interactive initiatives. They include weekly educational sessions that spotlight the vital role of coral reefs and the importance of responsible diving. And interactive lessons that spark young minds’ curiosity about the underwater world.
She also transforms abandoned fishing nets into bracelets, raising awareness about their impact on marine life. And conducts open forums for guests to engage with her, deepening their understanding of marine conservation.
Snorkeling adventures to coral nurseries where guests explore coral species and participate in the resort’s coral restoration efforts are conducted as well. And she encourages guests to play an active role in coral restoration, either by planting corals or sponsoring a coral rope, and tracking their growth.
“In the Maldives, a country faced with pressing environmental challenges, sustainability and environmental conservation are not just trends. They are a necessity,” Oriana emphasizes, outlining the long-term goals for sustainability and marine conservation at Anantara’s Maldivian resorts. “The survival of this tropical paradise is intertwined with adopting sustainable practices and reducing the anthropogenic impact on the environment.”
PROJECTS AND COLLABORATIONS
Following the devastating coral bleaching event of 2016, Oriana has been instrumental in Anantara’s HARP initiative (Holistic Approach to Reef Protection), aimed at rehabilitating damaged coral reefs.
With over 10,000 corals grown and planted since 2017, the project is on course to double this number, enhancing marine biodiversity. Guests are invited to become coral gardeners, contributing to the project’s success while receiving progress updates on their adopted “baby corals”.
Collaborating with esteemed organizations like the Olive Ridley Project, Manta Trust, and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program, Oriana’s work includes a photo-ID program for studying sea turtles, manta rays, and whale sharks. She invites guests to join as citizen scientists, aiding in data collection during their underwater explorations.