WHALE SHARK FESTIVAL MALDIVES 2015
WHALE SHARK FESTIVAL MALDIVES 2015
Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme is collaborating with Maldivian artists to celebrate the whale shark in the beautiful islands of the Maldives. 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. The third annual Whale Shark Festival is to be hosted on the island of Maamigili in South Ari Atoll. This year’s Festival will be the culmination of months of creative workshops and collaboration in which community members’ work together to create incredible art work representing their island culture and celebrating the marine diversity of South Ari atoll and its Marine Protected Area. This unique Festival is driven by national and international collaborations between dynamic Maldivian artists, marine biologists and scientific researchers and places the island communities at the forefront of creative decision making. Promoting intergenerational exchange, the Festival provides vital opportunities to celebrate both the rich cultural heritage of the atoll and its internationally renowned marine environment. The Whale Shark Festival of the year 2014 was a huge success. Building on this success, this year’s festival is going to be bolder and bigger. This year, The Whale Shark Festival has been scheduled to coincide with International Whale Shark Day and in order to add to the global conversation, a new aspect to the festival will be introduced, called ScienceFEST, which will promote the sharing of vital resources and knowledge between Conservationists, Marine Biologists and Educators in the Maldives. ScienceFEST will take place on the afternoon and evening of Friday 28th August on the island of Dhigurah. Hundreds of school children and community members from across the atoll will be taking part in this Festival. Dhigurah, Maamigilli, Fenfushi, Dhangethi, Mahibadhoo, Dhidhoo and Mandhoo will all be contributing to the festival, collaborating with the dynamic team of highly experienced Maldivian Artists. This year’s festival represents the culmination of many creative workshops held over the past few months in which local communities were encourage to produce art celebrating island life and the marine diversity of South Ari atoll and its Marine Protected Area. Each participating island will create a large-scale kinetic whale shark sculpture from recycled materials for the procession to be accompanied by endangered reef fish inspired art work and costumes, ensuring that conservation and awareness underpin the whole concept of the Festival. Developed by MWSRP and IUCN Maldives in 2013, the festival exists to provide the island communities of South Ari Atoll with the opportunity to celebrate the whale shark and the marine diversity of their atoll whilst promoting environmental sustainability and conservation at a grass roots level. Seeding the idea of an international collaboration between marine biologists and artists and promoting the use of community art as a tool for social and environmental engagement, the project seeks to boost local and national awareness and tourism to support future generations. Festival Co-Directors will be working again with each participating island to share and celebrate the unique stories of each islands community, weaving traditional Maldivian dance and music with contemporary art work to entertain and inform a diverse audience of Island residents, Maldivian creatives, scientists, and international visitors. Chloe Osbone, Festival Co-Director 2015 saysThis is an opportunity to learn more about this incredible creature and by working together, to showcase the outstanding natural beauty and artistic culture of the Maldives to a global audience”.