Second "Turtle Festival" starts at Laamu Gan

Following the success of the first ever held inter-island turtle festival in 2016, the organizers had hosted the second festival on Wednesday.

"Laamu Turtle Festival" held at Gan of the same atoll was organized by Six Senses Laamu with the collaboration of Gan Island Council and Laamu Atoll Police Department under the same theme "Turtles in Laamu - Safe and Protected" as last year.

With the aim of promoting awareness "about the importance of sea turtles and providing a platform for community engagement about greater marine conservation" the festival included several educational stalls and specialized games that aimed to promote awareness among participants in the importance of preserving marine life, especially the endangered species of turtles.

Six Senses Laamu in a press statement highlighted on the critical nature of the topic stating that while all of the seven species of turtles found in Maldives are under the endangered species list due to harmful fishing practices, plastic pollution and poaching; Laamu Atoll is grateful in having a large population of both Green and Hawksbill turtles.

The statement also added that poaching of turtles and their nests is common even today, thus it was agreed that everyone in the community needs to take initiation in eliminating this practice.

The festival saw its guest of honor if Abdul Gafoor Ali, who is famous nationwide as "Gabbe" - the first Maldivian to navigate across the entire country on a catamaran - spoke on the necessity of improved waste management when he said "If we want to protect turtles, the first thing we need to do is protect their habitat. When I sailed across the Maldives I saw a lot of trash in our beautiful ocean. In Kureli Kandu, the channel between Laamu and Meemu Atolls, I capsized my catamaran and had to be in the water for four hours. There were so many plastic bags, bottles and caps in the sea, I almost cried. It is our duty to reduce our waste to protect our marine habitats and save our marine life."

Meanwhile General Manager of Six Senses Laamu Marteyne van Well had a few things to say about the festival.

"Last year in Maavah, the festival was such a great success that it wasn’t a question of whether we could hold another one, but more of a question of when we could hold it. Our aim is to, year on year, increase our positive impact in Laamu and maintain efforts as a community to protect turtles. Last year, students from five schools in Laamu attended the event and today we have students from 12 of the 13 schools, so clearly we have achieved our goal" Well said.

Laamu Turtle Festival was participated by Six Senses Laamu along with two NGOs, three local businesses, four government agencies, 10 island councils, 12 schools and an upwards of 1,000 people to pledge the Turtles in Laamu - Safe and Protected, according to the organizer.