A scientist from Noo Raajje joins the team at National Geographic as they embark on the ‘Pristine Seas Scientific Expedition’ in the Maldives. The scientific information gathered during the expedition will help in filling current data gaps in Maldives’ efforts to develop the Marine Spatial Plan of the nation.
As part of the expedition, the team will travel to three atolls in the South of the Maldives, namely Huvadhoo, Addu and Fuvahmulah, where various scientific surveys will be conducted that will build on the knowledge acquired during previous expeditions of Noo Raajje. Given this, the team will spend the upcoming month aboard ‘Blue Force Three’, collecting crucial data and research that will assist and inform the Maldives on coming up with an effective long-term plan to protect and sustain marine life in the country.
Maeesha from Noo Raajje will feature alongside a stellar lineup of international and local scientists and ocean experts including the expedition leader, Dr. Keiron Fraser from the University of Plymouth. The expedition’s chief scientist is Dr. Alan Friedlander and a local marine biologist, Aya Naseem will also be partaking in this journey. Cutting-edge methods will be used to sample ocean ecosystems such as Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVs) and deep drop-camera surveys. Moreover, micro-paleo and microplastics sampling will be carried out to assess the ocean health of Southern Maldives as well.
After the expedition is completed, the team will present a scientific report and a short video detailing all their findings. This information will complement data already collected from past expeditions and the Ocean Use Survey and will be a stepping stone towards drafting the Marine Spatial Plan. The plan will be finalized after hosting consultations with different public parties and stakeholders. Additionally, during the course of the expedition, the team will conduct a live online educational talk and Q&A session aboard the vessel, targeted at students and youth.
Speaking on the expedition, Noo Raajje Science & Communications Liaison, Maeesha Mohamed remarked “I am thrilled to join this expedition that will not only help us gather valuable data about the marine health of the southern Atolls, but also help better identify areas that need to be protected. Expeditions like this reinforce the scientific basis for protecting marine areas and help the government design science-backed policy.”
Dr. Alan Friedlander, National Geographic Pristine Seas Chief Scientist, said "The National Geographic Pristine Seas team has worked all over the world to protect some of the most vital places in the ocean. This is our first expedition to the Maldives and an amazing opportunity to learn more about the unique ecosystems in the southern atolls. Our team is excited to support the goals of the Noo Raajje partnership to protect and value the ocean and its resources to build a bright future for communities, the economy, and the environment of the Maldives.”
The Noo Raajje program is a government-led initiative in the Maldives, supported by several government agencies and international institutions. The National Geographic Pristine Seas is an exploration, research and media project incepted and founded by National Geographic Explorer. The team consists of ambitious scientists, policy experts and filmmakers who work towards inspiring the creation of protected areas where marine life can thrive and ensuring long-term management of such locations.