Tucked southwest of the Indian subcontinent, the Maldives archipelago stretches across 820km of the bright blue Indian Ocean.
Surrounded by a network of coral reefs, the islands are intrinsically tied to the species and wellbeing of that ecosystem.
To hike to the highest point of land in the Maldives would be less difficult that climbing up a few flights of stairs. Peaking at around just two metres above sea level, the islands are the high risk of being partially lost to rising waters as global warming causes ice caps to melt.
Located in the North Male Atoll, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru is one of many resorts that depends on the Maldives pristine beaches and marine life for tourism. Upon arrival, guests check into one of its 48 villas, each with a private pool, that dot the shoreline. The iconic blue waters seemingly spill out from the white sand, inviting onlookers to explore the world below the surface.
Recognising the current threats to the local ecosystem, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru has established its own marine biology lab in which visitors can learn about the ecosystems. Its the first lab to be built and funded by the resort that houses it. “The natural environment and conservation of our fragile marine ecosystem are priorities for us here in the Maldives”, said Dr Steven Newman.
The lab serves as both a way of teaching guests about marine preservation and as a functioning lab that conducts research in coral biology, ecology and green sea turtle conservation.
Instead of just snorkelling above the reef, guests can assist with coral transplantation. They can join specially trained divers in reef and species inventory checks and can sponsor their own coral gardens. Rather than sitting back and waiting for a sighting of a green sea turtle or reef shark, Banyan Tree visitors can join local researchers to learn more about the amazing creatures and how their local habitat can be protected.
The Maldives itself is worth of anyones bucket list. Yet if ocean levels and temperatures continue to rise, its likely the lure of the 1,200 picturesque islands will fade away. While this is just one example of the impacts of global warming, its one that Banyan Tree and its visitors are helping to reverse.