2nd annual Maldives Whale Shark Festival

Press release for Maldives Whale Shark Festival 2014 November 30th 2014

Whale Sharks on land in South Ari Atoll
The second annual Maldives Whale Shark Festival

mwsrp_round_1_1Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) and IUCN Maldives is collaborating with Maldivian artists to celebrate the whale shark in the Maldives second annual Whale Shark Festival. Hosted in Dhangethi, this year’s festival will be the culmination of months of community engagement workshops in which school students and community members have come together to create art work representing their island and celebrating the marine diversity of South Ari atoll and it’s Marine Protected Area (S.A.MPA).

This unique festival, which places island communities at the centre of creative decision making, will transform the host island on Saturday December 6th, festooning the streets with colour, filling the air with Boda Beru and providing an unmissable learning experience for over 250 people who have participated in it’s development. The carnival procession at 1 pm will see 3 whale sharks swim above the heads of the crowd, a giant green turtle, butterfly fish and manta ray dance through the streets and a feast of brightly coloured costumes created by each island.

Considering the dimensions for their kinetic sculpture of a butterfly fishEach participating island has chosen a mascot to make and has been working with professional artists to realise their designs for large scale, kinetic sculptures and mobile recycled art work and costumes. Inspired by the stories of their community they have been working with creative practitioner Fazail Lutfe to create high impact, theatrical presentations to share with festival goers. Weaving together the traditional forms of Raveru and Boda Beru with contemporary story telling, each island will tell part of the Atoll’s story, giving voice to the area’s rich cultural heritage.

Artists Nadee Rachey and Kareen Adam from Male have been leading on the artistic vision for the festival, collaborating with Festival Director Chloe Osborne from the UK to provide a series of multi-disciplinary art workshops with 4 main islands- Dhigurah, Dhangethi, Dhiddhoo and Mandhoo, with support from neighbouring islands and resorts.

“This is just the beginning – we plan on pubng the festival on the cultural calendar for the Maldives, bringing people from across the country and the world together to celebrate the rich marine and cultural diversity of the archipelago. Nowhere else is so uniquely placed to support the collabora3on between Marine Biologists and Artists, community members and international researchers. We look forward to building on this year’s success and, with thanks to our generous sponsors, to offering the opportunity to participate to more islands every year.” Chloe Osborne – Festival Director, Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme.

Proudly wearing a recycled headdress at Dhidhoo- Maldives Whale Shark Festival 2014We hope to attract festival goers from across the Atoll, Male and beyond with this yearly opportunity to celebrate the craftsmanship and creativity of the island communities and to celebrate the area’s unique role in International Whale Shark ecology.

The 2014 festival has been created with support from our technical partner IUCN Maldives with sponsorship from Voyages Maldives, FlyMe, Allied Insurance with Mirihi, Lux* Maldives, Lily Beach, Vilamendhoo, Holiday Island and Sun Island resorts, online partner maldives.com, and our official hydration partner 100 Plus.

MWSRP programme coordinator Ibrahim Shameel added- “For the past 5 months MWSRP have been working with the local islands to bring this festival to life. Along the way we have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people without whom this festival would not be possible. The idea of a festival is still a very new concept to the communities but have been delighted at how the openly the idea has been received. It’s been an inspiration and an honour to witness this festival bring people of all ages come together in a shared endeavour.”

If you would like to follow the festival please find more information on:  http://maldiveswhalesharkresearch.org or support us by liking our event page at: Facebook/MWSRP

The Women of Mandhoo with their festival skirts

The Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) is a charity that carries out whale shark research and fosters community focused conservation initiatives in the Maldives.

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.

Community mobilisation is one of our core values. Participation from the local residents of South Ari Atoll and throughout Maldives is very important to the work of MWSRP.

For more information contact: Richard Rees, Managing Director MWSRP richard@maldiveswhalesharkresearch.org

IUCN Maldives Marine Projects

The objectives of the IUCN Maldives Marine Projects were developed to address the environmental priorities and challenges that the Maldives faces. They include enhancing coral reef resilience (both social and ecological), supporting climate change adaptation, advancing marine species management and increasing environmental awareness across different sectors. These are ambitious but urgent priorities that require vision, dedication, perseverance and commitment by many individuals, groups and stakeholders of society in order to address them.

For more information contact: Ali Nizar, Communications Officer, aliiucnmv@gmail.com
Rifaee Rasheed, IUCN Social Sciences and Outreach Officer, rifaee.rasheed@gmail.com

WS Silhouette_Photo Credit Gregor Kervina

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