Timeless sanctuary Vakkaru Maldives Resort has appointed Diana Vergara as the new resident marine biologist to enhance guest experiences and the private island’s marine biology programmes. Diana’s role includes raising environmental awareness among guests and researching and monitoring the house reef and the coral around the island. She will also lead snorkelling excursions and give informational lectures on conservation for adults.
Speaking about her new role, Diana said: “My goal at Vakkaru is to communicate, create awareness and share my passion with others and make them fall in love with this amazing underwater world. I’m so glad to be part of the team and look forward to working together to protect our ocean and nature, especially in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Baa Atoll. We will implement more marine education and activities for all guests, including kids. Even from simple steps, I always say, ‘every seed counts’.”
Growing up near the ocean, Diana had a passion for all animals, especially the marine types such as orcas, whales, turtles and sharks. Curious to know more about the behaviour of these animals and how humans could help preserve our biodiversity, she studied marine biology, getting a Master’s degree in Marine Biology and Coastal Environments from the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), Brazil. The Colombian national is also an experienced scuba diver certified as an Open Water PADI and Project AWARE instructor. In addition, she is also getting certified as an instructor in Enriched Air Diver, Deep Diver, Digital Underwater Photographer, Wreck Diver, and Fish ID.
“For the past seven years, I’ve been working in marine biology, performing ecosystem monitoring (coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass), analysis of the benthic community, invasive species, coral gardening and photo identification of some marine animals in Colombia, Brazil and Maldives,” says Diana, who has worked at several resorts in the Maldives.
“As our new resident marine biologist, Diana will play a big role in enhancing our guest experiences through a variety of programmes that raise awareness about the oceans and the need for their conservation,” said Iain McCormack, General Manager, Vakkaru Maldives.
Some of the programmes guests at Vakkaru can participate in include:
- Coral Adoption where they can do their bit to protect reef fish and sea species that live around the island by adopting a coral frame and planting it in a specially designed structure, then placing it in the coral nursery close to Vakkaru’s house reef. Guests will receive a certificate upon completion of this programme, and regular updates from the resort on the growth progress and overall health of the coral.
- A weekly Marine Bio Presentation at Coconut Club and Parrotfish Club, covering a variety of topics from the Maldives and the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere, to manta rays, sea turtles and how to spot the Baa Atoll ‘Big Five’.
- Marine Biology Adventure
A guided snorkelling or diving trip around the House Reef and beyond, where the resident expert accompanies the guests on a journey of discovery through the underwater world, points out the interesting features and unique marine life that resides. Upon completion of this snorkel or dive session, our Marine Biologist will provide a full de-brief on the encounters and share more interesting facts on the fish and corals.