On Saturday, September 23, Six Senses Laamu hosted the second Sea Turtle Festival on the island of Gan. The event was jointly organized by the Gan Island Council, Laamu Atoll Police Department and Six Senses Laamu, and they brought together the entire atoll: one resort, two NGOs, three local businesses, four government agencies, 10 island councils, 12 schools, and upwards of 1,000 people pledged: “Turtles in Laamu – Safe and Protected!”
The festival was aimed at students and their parents, with educational stalls and games. It was a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about sea turtles and how they are an integral part of the fragile marine ecosystem in maintaining the health of the ocean.
Unfortunately, killing and eating turtles, as well as poaching their nests for the eggs, is still common, even though they are protected as an endangered species in Maldives. Loss of nesting habitat, along with mounting ocean pollution, are among the human-cased threats pushing six of the seven sea turtle species towards extinction.
The Laamu Police Department supported the event to create awareness among local communities that preserving sea turtles is a priority, and that they are now protected with stricter law enforcement measures. Each school presented a cultural performance and competed in drawing, sand sculpture and creativity contests. Finally, Blue Marine Foundation painted another impressive wall mural and invited all festival attendees to stamp a turtle and sign their name, pledging they would never harm a turtle.
Chief guest, Abdul Gafoor Ali “Gabbe,” was the first Maldivian to sail around the Maldives in a catamaran to raise awareness for the conservation of the marine environment. He spoke about young people having an important voice for environmental advocacy. The event was a huge success in spreading the message of sea turtle protection in Laamu. Collective efforts are needed to ensure this magnificent creature continues to grace our oceans, but it is encouraging to see so many people care about them as much as we do!
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