Press Release: Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) and The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN Maldives) is collaborating with Maldivian artists to celebrate the whale shark in The Second Annual Maldives Whale Shark Festival. Hosted in Dhangethi, this year’s festival will be the culmination of months of community engagement workshops in which school students and community members have come together to create artwork representing their island and celebrating the marine diversity of South Ari Atoll and its Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).
This unique festival, which places island communities at the centre of creative decision making, will transform the host island on Saturday December 6th, festooning the streets with colour, filling the air with ‘Boduberu’ and providing an unmissable learning experience for over 250 people who have participated in its development. The carnival procession at 1pm will see 3 whale sharks swim above the heads of the crowd, a giant green turtle, butterfly fish and manta ray dance through the streets and a feast of brightly coloured costumes created by each island.
Each participating island has chosen a mascot to make and has been working with professional artists to realise their designs for large scale, kinetic sculptures and mobile recycled artwork and costumes. Inspired by the stories of their community they have been working with creative practitioner Fazail Lutfe to create high impact, theatrical presentations to share with festival goers. Weaving together the traditional forms of ‘Raivaru’ and ‘Boduberu’ with contemporary storytelling, each island will tell part of the Atoll’s story, giving voice to the area’s rich cultural heritage.
Local artists Nadee Rachey and Kareen Adam from Malé city have been leading on the artistic vision for the festival, collaborating with Festival Director Chloe Osborne from the UK, to provide a series of multi-disciplinary art workshops with 4 main islands – Dhigurah, Dhangethi, Dhiddhoo and Mandhoo, with support from neighbouring islands and resorts.
“This is just the beginning – we plan on putting the festival on the cultural calendar for the Maldives, bringing people from across the country and the world together to celebrate the rich marine and cultural diversity of the archipelago. Nowhere else is uniquely placed to support the collaboration between Marine Biologists and Artists, community members and international researchers. We look forward to building on this year’s success and, with thanks to our generous sponsors, to offering the opportunity to participate to more islands everywhere.”
Chloe Osborne – Festival Director, Maldives Shark Research Programme.
We hope to attract festival-goers from across the Atoll, Malé and beyond with this yearly opportunity to celebrate the craftsmanship and creativity of the island communities and to celebrate the area’s unique role in the International Whale Shark ecology.
The 2014 festival has been created with support from our technical partner IUCN Maldives with sponsorship from Voyages Maldives, FlyMe, Allied Insurance with Mirihi, Lux* Maldives, Lily Beach, Vilamendhoo, Holiday Island and Sun Island resorts, online partner Maldives.com, and our official hydration partner 100PLUS.
MWSRP programme coordinator Ibrahim Shameel added “For the past 5 months MWSRP have been working with the local islands to bring this festival to life. Along the way we have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people without whom this festival would not be possible. The idea of a festival is still a very new concept to the communities but have been delighted at how the openly the idea has been received. Its been an inspiration and an honour to witness this festival bring people of all ages come together in a shared endeavour.”
Festival Background: Developed by MWSRP and IUCN Maldives in 2013, the festival is designed to provide the island communities of South Ari Atoll with the opportunity to celebrate the Whale Shark and the Marine Diversity of their Atoll whilst promoting environmental sustainability and conservation at a grassroots level.. Seeding the idea of an international collaboration between marine biologists and artists and promoting the use of community art as a tool for social and environmental engagement, the project seeks to boost local and national awareness and tourism to support future generations.
Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme
The Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) is a charity that carries out whale shark research and fosters community focused conservation initiative in the Maldives.
What initially began as a scientific expedition in 2006, the MWSRP has grown to become the only long term organisation dedicated to study the iconic, yet vulnerable whale shark species in the Maldives.
Our goal is simple: we seek to advance the field of whale shark knowledge and to advocate for sound conservation policy in the Maldives. By encouraging and valuing community and industry stakeholder participation, we are able to leverage the scientific research to safeguard the rich biodiversity and fragile marine ecosystems that are the basis for not only whale sharks, but also life, livelihood and culture in the Maldives.
Community mobilisation is one of our core values. Participation from the local residents of South Ari Atoll and throughout Maldives is very important to the work of MWSRP.
contact for more information: Richard Rees, Managing Director MWSRP [email protected]
IUCN Maldives Marine Projects
The objectives of the IUCN Maldives Marine Projects were developed to address the environmental priorities and challenges that the Maldives faces. They include enhancing coral reef resilience (both social and ecological), supporting climate change adaptation, advancing marine species management and increasing environmental awareness across different sectors. These are ambitious but urgent priorities that require vision, dedication, perseverance and commitment by many individuals, groups and stakeholders of society in order to address them.
Six Senses Laamu is eager to welcome the Festive Season with a new swimming pool and restaurant along with the addition of private plunge pools to 21 of the resort’s villas. The Christmas and New Year celebrations, from December 23, 2014 to January 3, 2015, include tailor-made experiences and events for all ages. Six Senses is excited to welcome returning guests and first time visitors to the resort as the entire team pulls out all the stops to extend a rich celebration of festive activities.
Some of the holiday highlights include:
A lobster barbecue on a private sandbank for an unreal seafood experience in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The delicious menu includes local seafood, freshly caught reef fish and salads made with organic ingredients grown in in the resort’s own gardens.
DJ Vifak will be behind the turntables of the specially installed beach decks! He will be the host DJ at the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve party, inviting all guests to dance to the hottest island sounds. Then on December 31, the New Year countdown will bid farewell to the old year and welcome a promising 2015.
Over this period Des Mitchell will be on the decks of Chill Bar and Sip Sip providing a soulful highlight to the evenings accompanied by the lyrical voice of his fellow performer Sara France.
Six Senses Spa experts have made a selection of wellness and fitness activities and added them to the extensive and comprehensive range of award-winning signature treatments. An array of classes from asanas and yin yoga, to power walking and beach body training, will be held daily at the yoga pavilion. The spa will also offer the latest aerial experiences trend. Reach new heights with Six Senses aerial yoga, aerial fitness, aerial pilates and aerial meditation sessions.
Visiting Practitioner Benson Spiers will be available at Six Senses Spa throughout the festive period. Benson specializes in a variety of physical, emotional and spiritual therapies, such as tai chi, energy flow, fu shen massage and more. His sunset tai chi sessions are a must for fitness enthusiasts.
For younger guests, resort hosts have put together a series of fun activities and adventures. Pirates will be invading the shores of the island and they will take young guests aboard their boat for a snorkeling adventure. Fitness and spa activities will be available during this time, while a treasure hunt and a children’s disco party are not to be missed.
This is the season to share with family and friends and special excursions will be offered daily to ensure guests get the most out of their activity time with loved ones. Experience the Maldivian way of life on a nearby island or enjoy a true Robinson Crusoe escape on a secluded private island for a castaway picnic, Six Senses is ready to make all the arrangements. Sports activities and games will be organized, a few of which will include resort hosts.
Astronomer Parag Mahajani will also visit Six Senses Laamu during the Festive Season. He will set his telescope on the beach each evening and provide an introduction to the universe.
About Parag Mahajani
Astronomer Dr Parag Mahajani, an independent consultant and trainer in the fields of Science and Technology and Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society, London (FRAS) will be returning to Six Senses Con Dao from 12 to 23 August 2013
Following a very successful and popular visit in November 2012, Dr Parag has been invited back to Six Senses Con Dao to fascinate guests and hosts about the skies above.
Dr Parag is an expert in the field of astronomy with twenty-five years experience. He frequently visits Six Senses resorts to delight guests with his slide shows, talks and sky observation programs.
During his career he has received prestigious awards such as State Level Best Literature Award Winner (C. D. Deshmukh Puraskar) for Science and Technology for the book “Tarakanchya Vishwat” from the Maharashtra Government in 2005-06. He has written around five hundred articles in various Indian and international publications on science and technology, and he has given close to one thousand lectures on astronomy and related subjects.
Daily programs will include:
Evening Slide Shows at By The Market from 19:00 to 19:30.
Astronomical Observations and talks will take place every clear night during his visit, from 21:00 to 23:00.
Solar Observations, where guests can look at the Sun, witnessing first hand flares and magnetic storms, from 10:00 to 11:00 in the morning.
Exclusive Zodiac Dinners hosted by Dr Parag will take place twice during his stay where a Zodiac-themed 4-course meal prepared by our chefs to coincide with the Zodiac’s four base categories. A brief talk introducing each Zodiac grouping will be given by Dr Parag before each serving.
Private and exclusive astronomy sessions packed with dazzling slides of telescopic sky-observation experiences can be organized by request in guests’ own villas.