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The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands has announced the first resort-based conservation technology project using drones in the Maldives. In a unique partnership with British PhD researcher Melissa Schiele, the resort will play an integral role in a government-approved research programme to develop drone methods to search for, and quantify ocean plastics in the Maldives.

This progressive research community will support a major image collection and data processing project to monitor ocean pollution of plastics and map habitat health in the Indian Ocean, and, for the first time, will allow guests to engage in the science, exploration and hands-on process of data collection using conservation technology. The team’s wider monitoring will include identification of discarded fishing nets (ghost nets) which are causing an increased threat to wildlife from entanglement. Any nets or large pieces of debris identified by the drones will subsequently be targeted for removal.

Melissa Schiele, a PhD researcher at Loughborough University and Zoological Society of London (ZSL), has built a team of scientists and commercially trained drone pilots, to create a unique community of conservation experts from across the globe. The team, including Dr Luca Fallati of MaRHE, (the Marine Research and Higher Education Centre and part of the University of Milano Bicocca), will use multirotor drones donated by The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, and a water-landing fixed-wing drone donated by USA based NGO Oceans Unmanned.

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