Happy World Turtle Day: Celebrating the shelled guardians of the Maldives

Every May 23rd, we celebrate World Turtle Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about these magnificent creatures and the threats they face. Here in the Maldives, with our stunning coral reefs and crystal-clear waters, these gentle giants hold a special significance.

The Maldives is a haven for five out of the seven sea turtle species in the world, with Green and Hawksbill turtles being the most common visitors. These prehistoric mariners play a vital role in maintaining the health of our coral reefs. They graze on seagrass beds, keeping them healthy and promoting the growth of new plants. This, in turn, provides a vital habitat for countless fish and marine life.

Understanding the importance of these shelled guardians, the Maldives has taken significant steps towards turtle conservation. In 1995, the country banned the capture and killing of sea turtles, as well as the import and sale of turtle products. This was followed by the 2016 Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, which solidified sea turtles as a protected species.

Six Sense Laamu Turtles

However, conservation goes beyond legislation. Several projects are actively working to ensure the future of these marine marvels. Community-based initiatives are at the forefront, with local island communities collaborating with NGOs to patrol nesting beaches and protect eggs from poachers. Additionally, many resorts in the Maldives are actively involved in turtle conservation efforts, educating tourists and even offering opportunities to participate in beach cleanups or witness hatchling releases.

The traditional connection between the Maldivian people and sea turtles is also being leveraged for conservation. Images of turtles adorn our currency, stamps, and historical artifacts, fostering a sense of cultural respect for these creatures.

World Turtle Day serves as a reminder of our responsibility to protect these vulnerable animals. By supporting conservation efforts, reducing plastic use, and being responsible tourists, we can all play a part in ensuring that these gentle giants continue to grace the turquoise waters of the Maldives for generations to come.

Photo courtesy Hurawalhi Maldives and Six Senses Laamu