Renowned for the richness and variety of its sea life, the Maldives are home to a teeming marine eco-system filled with colourful coral, fish and other aquatic creatures, including whale sharks, leatherback turtles, manta rays and more. This vibrant diversity is a major draw for visitors and as such the government and non-profit organisations alike are eager to preserve the marine eco-system, while simultaneously encouraging sustainable tourist development.
Many of their efforts revolve around educating local resorts and island communities about the importance of sustainable reef management, so as to protect the delicate corals that form the heart of the ecosystem. To support these efforts, the export of any sea life (including sand, shells and corals) is prohibited, as is the fishing or collection of a number of specific species. Dive operators are also required to brief divers on how to avoid damaging reefs and disturbing marine life, with the chief imperative being to look but not touch, particularly in protected areas.
Because of their geographical proximity to sea level, the Maldives are also at serious risk from climate change and rising sea levels, which is why the nation aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2019.