Luxury Maldives resort, Diva has opened a dedicated Marine Biology Centre, in an effort to boost research on the year-round presence of whale sharks at the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA). The new centre will enable guests to become directly involved with ongoing research. The resort uses ‘I3S’, a piece of software originally developed by NASA to observe changing patterns of stars, and now adapted to map and measure whale sharks’ spotted skin pattern – their equivalent of a fingerprint. This software allows guests of the resort to find out whether whale sharks they see have been seen before, or are new to researchers.
The Centre will also organises a weekly ‘Whale Shark Education Day’ to raise awareness of the local community of whale sharks. The day includes interactive presentations about whale sharks, sea shells and reef fish, and features a boat trip in the company of resident marine biologist, Chiara Fumagalli, focused on reef snorkelling and whale shark spotting.