Page 34 - SilverKris March 2014

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E S S E N T I A L S
eco-watch
PHOTOS
COURTESY COCOA ISLAND BY COMO, VAMIZI ISLAND LODGE, BANYAN TREE VABBINFARU
34 | SILVERKRIS.COM
Travellers are giving fragile marine ecosystems
a helping hand. Here are some resorts where
you can pitch in.
BY CATHERINE MARSHALL
Oceanwarriors
MOZAMBIQUE
Vamizi Island has one of the
world’s healthiest coral reef
ecosystems, in part thanks
to a community-managed
marine sanctuary and
strong links between the
local government, tourism
operators and UK’sWorld
Wildlife Fund (WWF). Guests
at the Vamizi Island Lodge
(
vamizi.com
) can do their part
by assisting with nightly turtle
patrols, nest relocations
and hatchling releases (top
left). Divers are encouraged
to log sightings of rare and
endangered species like the
bumphead parrotfish, giant
grouper and grey reef shark.
Guests can also learn about
the environmental importance
of processes like mass coral
spawning, which happens only
in Vamizi and a few other places
around the world.
“Only by getting people
engaged can we make sure that
Vamizi will remain one of the
most pristine natural places on
the planet,” saysWWF biologist
Joana Trindade.
THEMALDIVES
Guests at Banyan Tree
Vabbinfaru’s (
banyantree.
com
) can attend free weekly
lessons with its resident marine
biologist, snorkel the house
reef and observe up close the
resort’s marine conservation
projects (left). You may even get
to help transplant coral and
clean the reef.
At Cocoa Island by COMO
(
comohotels.com/cocoaisland
),
guests can sponsor coral frames
– the metal structures (below) –
onto which fragments of coral
from the natural reef are placed.
This allows new coral colonies to
form, and in turn attracts marine
life as well as protects low-lying
islands from erosion. After your
stay, monitor the progress of
your “adopted” colonies through
online images and updates from
the resort. On your next trip, go
on a guided snorkel tour to see
the fruits of your philanthropy.
HONDURAS
Utila Island off the north coast
of Honduras is one of the few
places in the world where
whale sharks can be spotted
year round. Despite guidelines,
visitors risk disturbing
these gentle giants’ fragile
environment.
At Utila Dive Lodge
(
utilalodge.com
), which works
with Utila’sWhale Shark and
Oceanic Research Center
(WSORC), you can attend
conservation workshops.
Then apply your training by
taking photos of whale sharks,
submitting them online and
learning how the data is used
to track the sharks’ health.