After 10 weeks of exploring the oceans around Six Senses Laamu, the first series of the online Junior Marine Biology programme has made a satisfying splash. What’s more, it is not too late to dive in, as all classes were recorded, which means they can be taken any time, and in any order.
The online Junior Marine Biology programme is a series of free web-based classes, made up of short informative videos, activities to do at home and one-on-one feedback by the team of 10 marine biologists at the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI).
Each class explored a different topic, from how the islands of the Maldives are formed (parrotfish poop in case you were wondering) to the importance of corals, seagrass meadows, mangroves and marine protected areas. The atoll’s gentle giants took their turn in the spotlight, including live footage of the season’s first turtle hatchlings emerging from their nest on April 26, plus a special encounter with manta rays in virtual reality. The program also introduced what it means to be a scientist and how to share science, culminating in a session on how to make a stop motion conservation movie, which received some amazing animations from the children taking part.
Due to the various lockdown measures in place, the Six Senses team were displaced all over the world, from Six Senses Laamu to Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, yet their collective passion for the project resulted in high-caliber, rich and varied course content, compiled in a matter of days for each class. Even more remarkable was the enthusiasm, creativity and dedication of the children. Their heartwarming final video compilation of jokes and reasons why they love marine biology brought a collective tear … and hope that these budding conservationists will go on to fight for the future of our blue planet.
Six Senses Laamu’s marketing communications manager Leanna Crowley coordinated the programme with meticulous care and attention. Her efforts have been rewarded with over 10,000 page views and 300 pieces of homework from more than 80 children in 20 countries (and counting), along with many messages and videos. Each submission was individually marked and handed back by the Maldives Underwater Initiative specialist hosting the session, with thanks in particular to Nicole Pelletier from the Manta Trust, Jo Goodfellow from the Olive Ridley Project, and Vivienne Evans and Ali Shareef from the Blue Marine Foundation.
“Receiving the homework, videos and stories of the adventures our Junior Marine Biologists have gone on has been the highlight of our lockdown. To know that we could provide education and inspiration despite the ongoing global restrictions shows the dedication of our Maldives Underwater Initiative team towards achieving our vision of creating a global community of marine stewards. I am so proud of the team and of this community of little marine biologists who I hope to meet in person one day,” said Marteyne van Well, general manager, Six Senses Laamu.
Lead presenter and guest education coordinator Lawrence Menz and co-presenter and head marine biologist & research coordinator Philippa Roa proved an instant hit for their wonderful chemistry, fun bloopers and terrible jokes.
Although the structure, by necessity, was different to what children might enjoy on vacation in the Maldives, the objective was the same, aiming to help foster an understanding of marine biology and see first-hand the importance of marine conservation.
Lawrence and the team are now working towards recrafting the Junior Marine Biology programme offered at the resort. Guiding these adjustments is the most important feedback of all, the suggestions provided by the graduates of Junior Marine Biology online who are hoping to come explore Laamu’s marine life in person and put to use all the skills they have learnt.
Although the physical Junior Marine Biology programme will take off again with the opening of Six Senses Laamu, the online resources will remain available via www.sixsenses.com/en/at-home-with-six-senses so that families can still start the program over the summer vacation.