This community benefit project, in collaboration with the MWSRP, was designed to install only the 4th tide station in the Maldives. As high and low tide times vary over distance, the existing time tables (which are from the nearest station in the capital Malè – almost 97km away!) are not accurate in this area. By deploying this gauge in Dhigurah, we will be able to note precisely the variation between high tide and low tide in South Ari atoll versus those times stated for Malè. This means we can develop a much more accurate tide table for the communities in this area.
It is hoped that all stakholders in the area will benefit from the project; fishermen from South Ari will be able to plan their activities more efficiently and productively, especially when fishing at those sites which only provide fish during small tidal windows and dive centres of nearby resorts will be able to use accurate tidal charts when planning their guests’ dive destinations.This project is also being collaborated with the Dhigurah School Fisheries Science class, whose students, as part of their year 10 practical work, have already conducted a 24 hour tidal measurement study using large measuring sticks. This will allow the teacher, Mr. Jackson, to confirm the accuracy of their recordings during similar studies in the future.
Talks and Excursions
SAMPA aims to bring awareness and appreciation of the natural environment and the marine life of the MPA to the younger generations of the South Ari island communities. As such, we have conducted several talks to the schools on the islands, including Dhigurah and Maamigili, and have also taken excursions out onto the reef to show the students the marine life of the MPA, particularly the famous aggregation of whale sharks.
In May 2011, the year 10 students of the Dhigurah school fisheries science class had a talk on the biology and ecology of whale sharks, before taking to the high seas to try and spot these incredible of the animals in the wild. The group were incredibly lucky, and had literally just put the bow of their dhoni out of the harbour when they came across the first shark! The majority of the class got to see the animal before we went and searched for another specimen. Unfortunately, despite seeing one more, we were unable to get the children into the water with it as it had gone by the time we turned the boat around. Not wanting to waste the day however, we went for a snorkel and had a practical session of fish identification and learned about the biology of the animals which we encountered. A good day was had all round, with some mischievous individuals having great fun tipping ice cold water over their teachers and the SAMPA group – though it must be said this was mainly led by the head teacher Mr. Fayaz!
In August 2011, we visited the Maamigili school to take their Fisheries Science class out onto the reef. Once again, the focus of the tour was the whale shark – the most enigmatic umbrella species in this region. The students interacted incredibly well during the presentation on the whale shark, with many of the teachers and support persons showing a lot of hands-on knowledge about the species. Before looking for the whale sharks, we went for a short familiarisation snorkel in the sheltered waters next to the jetty at Ariyadhoo, enjoying the colourful marine life which proliferates there.We went out onto the reef and were extremely lucky to encounter two whale sharks! All but one of the students had the opportunity to see the young male sharks up close, all of them for the very first time. The event was great fun and very well marshalled by the school principal Mr. Kumar and his staff.
Materials and Talks
Since August 2011, Dhigurah school has worked with Diva Marine Biologist and SAMPA team member Chiara Fumagalli in sharing tropical marine biology education material. The marine biology material is intended for use with the Fisheries Science course, and is in the format of presentations which Chiara presents. It is hoped that a guest speaker will provide an additional stimulus in the classroom, along with some new material, and ‘bring science to life’ for the children involved. Topics which are being presented include;
- Formation of Maldivian atolls and coral reefs
- Global warming
- Mimicry and camouflage in marine animals
- Symbiotic relationships
We very much look forward to continuing our relations with the Dhigurah School and hope to expand work like this to the other schools in the area.