Looking for some uplifting news? Fasmendhoo Island, home to Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa, just welcomed some adorable new creatures into this world: hawksbill sea turtles.
“The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List classifies the living animals on the planet in order of how close or how far they are from extinction in order for people to take some measures to protect them,” said Giorgia Maggioni, Marine Biologist at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa. All sea turtles found in the Maldives—including the hawksbill, olive ridley and green turtle (as well as the far less common leatherback and loggerhead)—have an endangered status of some kind. “The hawksbill turtle is critically endangered according to the Red List, which means that it’s very close to extinction. To have this specific species of turtle hatching here on this island is good for the environment, and we are incredibly proud of that.”
The nesting and hatching process, she said, is one of the most fascinating parts of a sea turtle’s life cycle. While marine biologists commonly study it, though, it is still not fully understood. What we do know is these animals have an amazing ability to navigate their way back to the precise area they were born. This skill—called “imprinting”—occurs during the hatching process in both males and females, and they essentially rely on the magnetic field of the earth to create a map in their brain. The skill to read these mental maps stays with them their entire life.
“What happened here on this island is that a couple of months prior to the hatching, a sea turtle came to the beach and found the perfect place to nest,” Giorgia explained. “Sea turtles are very picky in finding where to nest, and they want to find the ideal spot to lay down eggs. They need a place which is dark enough and far enough from the high tide mark. So it’s a good sign for the island, because it means that the environment is still really natural.”
She also expressed her excitement at getting to help aid these sea turtles, since only about one in every 1,000 sea turtles makes it to adulthood. Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa can now keep the nests safe and protect the sea turtles from potential predators like crabs or birds as they take their first wobbly crawl from the egg and into the ocean.
“Raising environmental awareness has always been the most important goal for me,” Giorgia added. “I love increasing the knowledge of our guests concerning marine life and making them aware of the importance of the ocean, because once you understand why it’s important then you will be more willing to protect it.”
Giorgia organizes presentations multiple times a week on the property and goes on the boat excursions with guests to answer questions about marine life. She also introduces people to some of the local conservation organizations, such as Marine Savers, Manta Trust and the Olive Ridley Project. Because she likes to pair action with education, she has organized lagoon cleanups for plastic that might have washed ashore (although Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa uses no single-use plastic, not all resorts in the Maldives have this same commitment to sustainability).Now the resort has a new sign of life which guests can admire. Giorgia expects that when these sea turtles mature they will return and lay at least fifty eggs during nesting season—an experience which she will not soon forget. Aside from protecting them from potential harm and using lights to lead them towards the ocean, she said you can’t pick the sea turtles up to aid them.
“You feel the need to help the tortoise even though you cannot touch them, otherwise you remove the imprinting they have,” she mentioned. “The only moment in which you can intervene is if they’re going to be eaten by a predator; otherwise, you can only observe and watch them really struggle to make their way to the sea. It was my first time watching sea turtles hatch, and it was actually quite emotional.”
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Source URL: Google News