During my first month in Naifaru working with Atoll Volunteers, I have been overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of the marine life here. During our regular snorkel trips, I have seen an array of different marine life, from moray eels, reef sharks, hawksbill turtles and octopus to the incredible Maldivian Clownfish. It has been incredible and the diversity of the marine life around Naifaru cannot be understated.
But my experience has also been a sobering one and a reminder of the challenges that our ocean and planet currently face. It’s been tough to see the effects of coral bleaching, particularly from the severe coral bleaching episode in 2016 where over 60% of reefs were affected (for more information on coral bleaching visit our article here. Furthermore, being witness to the impacts that plastic pollution and ghost nets are having on the local marine life are eye opening.
Although it is heartbreaking to see this, it’s also refreshing to work for a locally run Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), making an important difference to not only marine life but also to the local people of Naifaru. In a month, I have experienced how conservation can actually make a difference, especially through our community engagement programmes. These programmes involve weekly nature club lessons and our ‘Snorkel for Debris Day’ which help raise awareness about key conservation issues while involving the public directly in the conservation process.
Our turtle rehabilitation centre provides a second chance for these incredible creatures to once again flourish in the wild, while our clownfish breeding program is helping create a more sustainable aquarium trade. The coral monitoring programme is vital to assess the health of our local reefs in order for us to employ strategies such as coral gardening to assist the regrowth of damaged areas. So, it is clear that conservation can make a difference and as we look to the future, NGO’s that support both the local community and the marine life will play an essential role in helping to create a more sustainable future.
If you would also like to be part of our wonderful journey and make a real difference, please visit our website today at (www.atollvolunteers.com) where you can apply to get involved in our many exciting projects.