Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme


On Young People in Conservation & Collaborating, by MWSRP

The Maldives Whale Shark and Green Teen Team collaboration is a perfect example of our satellite projects. The MWSRP has been successfully tracking Whale sharks in the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) is a research-based conservation charity dedicated to studying the whale shark and fostering community-focused conservation initiatives in the Maldives and the greater Indian Ocean. What initially began as a scientific expedition in 2006, the MWSRP has grown to become the only long-term organisation dedicated to study the iconic, yet vulnerable whale shark species in the Maldives.

Our goal is simple: we seek to advance the field of whale shark knowledge and to advocate for sound conservation policy in the Maldives. By encouraging and valuing community and industry stakeholder participation, we are able to leverage the scientific research to safeguard the rich biodiversity and fragile marine ecosystems that are the basis for not only whale sharks, but also life, livelihood and culture in the Maldives.

GTT has been working on an educational project with MWSRP since 2017, to provide a platform for Marine Science studies in the Maldives. The project is still in production and we hope to launch during 2018.

It’s often said that people today are just guardians of the world for tomorrow. If true, then we have a responsibility to ensure that those in the future inherit a healthy world with rich biodiversity to enjoy and utilise. Clearly we’re not exactly excelling at delivering this for them right now, but there’s a definite sense that the tide is turning.

It could be argued that the last generation were the ones to figure out that global scale conservational errors have been made and first began to propose reactive solutions to them. The younger members of ‘generation Y’ are now entering the adult world with a comprehension of these challenges, which should be seen as a massive opportunity to affect change. By sharing knowledge and nurturing enthusiasm in conservation amongst young people it may be possible to readdress the balance of our collective responsibilities a bit.

The improvement in global internet access and the proliferation of social media have helped connect places and cultures around the world in real time, meaning that both conservational issues and positive conservational initiatives can achieve huge exposure very rapidly. Youngsters participating in conservation projects have the opportunity to attain a lot of satisfaction from seeing their work being appreciated by people on the other side of the planet. Critically, they also have a chance to understand how doing their little bit fits into a much wider picture, especially where initiatives such as the Green Teen Team actively facilitate cross exposure and an understanding that kids are kids the world over; only their environment changes.

Involving people in conservation, both young and old, is one of the central pillars of the organisation for the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP). With some tweaks to accommodate local pressures, promoting the common message that things need to change if we are to preserve and restore our environment has shaped the charities outreach work in the last few years, with the schools being central to these efforts. The MWSRP was therefore thrilled when the Green Teen Team Foundation approached the school on the local island the charity has its Maldives base on to offer a collaboration.

As a former MWSRP research volunteer, Ellie has seen the region in which MWSRP operates in first hand. She can therefore appreciate how completely different this environment is to a European one and is able to truly understand what a thrill it will be for the youngsters of the islands to see how their contemporaries in distant schools embrace a common concept with a very different ecology to work with. And vice-versa for the European schools of course! This direct link with the organisation and the common thread of wishing to promote conservation amongst the younger generation made helping to establish a collaboration for Green Teen Team a ‘no brainer’ for MWSRP.

We very much look forward to watching Green Teen Team develop and hope to foster further connections between schools in the Maldives and across the world into the future.

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