The luxurious island resort, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives Fari Islands is inviting National Geographic Explorer and award-winning shark scientist, Gibbs Kuguru for an exclusive residency at the property from 27th March to 12th April 2023. Facilitated through the resort’s ‘Visiting Heroes’ programme, Gibbs will take guests on an inspiring educational journey including bespoke experiences such as shark snorkelling, Q&As with Gibbs and the launch of a Blacktip Reef Shark Conservation Project in the Maldives.
Hailing from Kenya, the seafaring explorer and shark scientist will conduct key fieldwork in the Maldives as part of his Doctor of Philosophy in Genomics at Wageningen University which delves into the causes behind a rare skin disorder affecting Blacktip Reef Sharks in the region. Catering to this, a series of unique events will take place at the resort with engagements from both guests and scholars.
Natural Science students from the Maldives National University will join Gibbs in the shark tagging programme and analyse data for his ground-breaking conservation research. Moreover, Gibbs will also be deploying a Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) during his time at the resort which will help in the long-term monitoring of the Blacktip Reef Sharks in their native habitats.
Before concluding his residency, Gibbs will take guests on a surreal experience underwater where avid conservationists can snorkel up close and personal with some of the 26 species of shark home to the Maldives. Additionally, they can also catch the elusive Blacktip Reef Shark during the visit, which normally inhabits the shallow reefs surrounding the resort. Apart from this, guests can trench deeper into Gibb’s innovative research as he shares the latest developments and insights via interactive talks and workshops hosted at the dive centre.
Through his meticulous research work, Gibbs has honed his shark wrangling and seafaring skills by working with several shark species such as the Great White Sharks, Hammerheads, Threshers, Blues and Sand Tigers. His work mainly centres around genetic research and studying the DNA of sharks which helps increase the understanding of how characteristic elements in DNA influence shark populations in the blue wilds of the world. His pioneering research in the Maldives may reveal how Blacktip Reef sharks survive in the face of extinction threatened as they are by overfishing and climate change.
A recipient of the 2022 National Geographic Wayfinder Award, Gibbs is a valuable addition to the progressive research community established at The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands through Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Programme. Curated for both adults and children alike, the ingenious programme is led by marine naturalists in collaboration with world-famous oceanographic explorer and environmentalist, Jean-Michel Cousteau and leading scientists worldwide.
Activities designed under the programme highlight on preserving the planet which can be experienced through exploring the ocean depths or joining newly formed research teams in their pioneering work to monitor ocean plastics with drone technology. Not strictly restricted to underwater, the programme inspires guests to explore and engage in nature at all levels starting from the fauna of the Maldives to initiatives high above the surface.