MALDIVES—Ocean conservation is a core pillar for OUTRIGGER Resorts & Hotels and the newly appointed resident marine biologist at OUTRIGGER Maldives Maafushivaru Resort, Danielle Stanley, has ambitious plans for guest interaction and participation.
As part of OUTRIGGER Zone—the premier beach resort brand’s global conservation initiative on marine and environmental protection—guests can join in and learn about conservation activities at the resort.
Stanley, a dual British-South African national, who grew up in Tanzania, took over her new post with OUTRIGGER Maldives Maafushivaru Resort in March. Activities at the resort include coral planting, whale shark and manta excursions, showing marine-themed documentaries, holding arts and crafts sessions, conducting a school educational visit, and inviting guests to participate in marine wildlife database and research activities.
OUTRIGGER guests help Danielle compile encounter sheets when they join the resort’s excursions to see manta rays and assorted benign sharks in the surrounding waters. She describes the surrounding seas as “one of the top seven shark sanctuaries in the world.” Sightings of whale shark, black tip, white tip, grey reef, nurse, and silver tip are quite common.
Sharks: ‘Misunderstood Animals’
Stanley adds: “I want people to shift away from negative misconceptions about sharks. They are misunderstood animals. They are truly beautiful and critically important for the health of our oceans.”
Incorporating artistic creativity into her marine work is important. For example, Stanley paints murals and invites kids at the resort to draw aquatic creatures or make art from materials they discover on the beach.
Since taking up her post at OUTRIGGER Maldives Maafushivaru Resort, Stanley has introduced Monday and Thursday evening guest presentations. These are on topics such as Maldives Megafauna, Life On Our Blue Planet, The Ocean: A Carbon Sink, Oceans and Climate Change. There are also specialist presentations on sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays and coral reefs.
Friday nights are also marine documentary nights at the resort.
Inspired by Sylvia Earle
Stanley, who completed a postgraduate course in marine biology at Newcastle University in England last year, has been inspired by the work of marine conservationist and author Sylvia Earle. “She’s a legend in the world of marine activism,” says Stanley.
She is also inspired by “shark girl” Madison Stewart whose Project Hiu aims to repurpose shark fishing boats in the Indonesian archipelago by turning them into marine excursion vessels run by former shark fin fishermen.
Stanley is also an acclaimed underwater photographer. Her image of a diver in the waters off Tanzania trying to remove a fishing line and hook from the mouth of a whale shark was shortlisted in the Environmental Photographer of the Year Awards 2022.
Learn more about Stanley’s outlook on the marine world in an interview she gave to the Ocean Culture website.