25th Scientific Cruise – April 24th – May 15th 2022

This year, for the 7th time, we had the opportunity to join one of the best scientific cruises happening in the Maldives!

The Scientific Cruise Maldives (CSM) has taken place every year since 1995, organised by the University of Genoa (Italy) in partnership with Albatros Top Boat.

Since 2015, thanks to our partnership with Albatros Top Boat first, and the University of Genoa, we have had the pleasure to take part in this trip to research the Maldivian reefs with the professors, researchers and students from the University.

This annual activity allowed, through the years, to survey a total of 11 atolls around the Maldives, and thanks to this strong historical series of data, many publications and projects have been developed in the country.

The main focus of Save the Beach’s team during the scientific cruises was to teach the Reef Check protocol to the students and the researchers who decide to study the methodology and to certify participants as eco-divers.

Our efforts also extend beyond teaching Reef Check! We are developing a new monitoring protocol to understand the status of the Maldives reef systems. The aim is to assess the coral reefs and their inhabitants in order to collect more comprehensive and detailed data with higher diversity.

The data collected will be analysed and further details will be shared on our blog.

So far we can say that we have noticed interesting differences between reef flats, 7 meter and 15 meter depths. In some cases, the reef presented completely diverse characteristics depending on the depth.

During these 3 weeks, we had the opportunity to cruise from Malè North and South to Ari, Rasdhoo, Baa and Goifulhafehendhoo atoll.

The data will be separated by atolls, and within atolls, the difference between inner reefs and outer reefs together with the abundance of fish population and invertebrates will be analysed. Thanks to the substrate descriptors each reef will be characterised within three depths.  

Group picture week 1 – The Scientific cruise 2022
Group picture week 2 – The Scientific cruise 2022
Group picture week 3 – The Scientific cruise 2022

Hassan (Beybe) Ahmed collecting data

Monica Montefalcone giving a presentation about the blue hole

Hassan (Beybe) Ahmed and Irene Pancrazi giving a presentation about the works carried out by Save the Beach Maldives

Reef Check team getting ready for diving

Carrying out the ReefCheck exams

The new T-Shirts series of STBM

Reef Expeditions – SAMPA 2022



The very first reef expedition organised by Save the Beach Maldives in collaboration with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme is a 10 day expedition of the South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area (SAMPA). The expedition aims to collect data of the world famous SAMPA reefs which are frequented by whale sharks.

Aboard the expedition, participants will be trained and certified as Reef Check eco-divers, by our very own Reef Check instructor and trainer, Hassan Beybe.

Reef Check is a non-profit organization leading citizen scientists to promote stewardship of sustainable reef communities worldwide. The Reef Check training program gives you an understanding of the ecology of the reefs together with the threats the marine ecosystems are facing. The training allows the trainees to observe the reef in a completely new and exciting light. You learn key species of fish and macro-invertebrates and their ecological roles and relationships and thanks to the substrate characterisation you will discover a new world of organisms and animals.

During the expedition, we will be collecting data on reef health and assessing climate change impacts.

If you are passionate about the environment and have a drive for conservation we invite you to jump into this adventure with us!

For more information, please send us an email to savethebeach.villingili@gmail.com

Muraka Kudhin


Muraka Kudhin project is a collaborative effort between Muhyiddin Scout Group, Moodhu Bulhaa Dive Centre, Save the Beach Maldives & Hertfordshire Scouts that started in 2019 to assist in the Villimale’ reef rehabilitation and restoration effort.

The project plan includes coral propagation and reef restoration as well as reef monitoring and maintenance of the Villimale’ coral nursery.

The project aims to create environmentally conscious youth to be active and lead efforts for the coastal environment management and conservation of Maldives and is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 14 Life Below Water.

Save the Beach leads the coral restoration and reef research components of the program and provides trainings for Reef Check and Coral Nursery Maintenance. This is a long-term project that involves both classroom and in-field sessions and has allowed the students to greatly understand the reef ecosystems. Over the past two years we are proud to see these students become fantastic swimmers, snorkelers and divers. They continue to train in Reef Check protocol and research methods and have planted their own coral frame nurseries which they maintain and monitor.

Coral Micro-Fragmentation Project

The Coral Micro-Fragmentation Project is funded by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) started in November 2021 and aims to save impacted coral colonies and restore the Villimale’ reef by growing micro-fragments using different methodologies. Once the corals grow into adult colonies they will be replanted on the reef. The corals will be monitored regularly and data will be collected on the fragments for further analysis and monitoring.

Through this project 8 students are being trained for a year in a free course where participants learn coral reef ecology and biology, active and passive coral restoration methods, ecological surveying, data collection and writing scientific reports.

Meeru Island Resort & Spa Coral Garden


The Coral Restoration Project Meeru Island Resort & Spa started in 2017. At that time, together with the team of Meeru, we took care of the corals that survived from the El Niño bleaching event in 2016. All the fragments collected were attached in a huge nursery which hosted more than 5000 frags.

After 4 years, we were back to monitor the coral nursery at the end of 2021 and the results are astounding. The small fragments which were an average length of only 4cm have grown up to 56cm average length and 62cm average width. They are now adult coral colonies!

Thank you Meeru Island Resort & Spa and its team for taking care of the coral restoration site.

We hope to be back at Meeru to do further analysis and to attach corals back onto the reef.

Project Report Coral Conservation Project At, Palm Beach Island Resort and Spa Lh. Madhiriguraidhoo, Maldives




In the Maldives due to global and local pressures, reefs have been strongly threatened, leading to a high decrease in coral cover. Due to the growth of tourism and the development of the islands in the last few years, the pressures of local human activities are increasing. Furthermore, coastal development acts synergistically with global warming, worsening the status of coral reefs and affecting corals’ resilience.

The project began on 5th February 2018. This coral conservation project aims to study coral growth and to distinguish the variation in growth rates using 4 different coral rearing methods on different substrates. This study investigates also the fish community attracted by the coral nursery, identifying the different fish species.

Furthermore, the project contributes to finding a practical method to re-attach the corals to natural substrates, after growing the fragments in the nursery, once they are grown into juvenile corals of 15 to 20 cm.

Aim and Objectives

The primary objective of this project is to research and find a practical method to re-attach corals on natural substrates. This could possibly support and help the recovery of damaged coral reefs.

Below are the objectives we followed in this project.

  • Establish a cultured coral nursery using different coral rearing methods.
  • Follow up by cleaning the substrates and taking care of the coral fragments.
  • Monitor the corals’ growth with a calliper and register the measurements. 
  • Identify coral species.
  • Identify the fish species attracted to the corals in the nursery. 
  • Engage the staff of the resort in coral conservation workshops to educate and to enhance their knowledge of corals reefs. Involve them in the project while assisting in monitoring the corals.

Palm Beach Island Resort and Spa is located in the island of Madhiriguraidhoo (5°28’13.08″N, 73°33’35.27″E ) in Lhaviyani Atoll. It is the only island in the lagoon and is located in the north-east rim of the atoll and the large reef system of this island extends further north along the rim of the atoll. The island’s long stretch of reef has hypnotic diving sites all the way around the reef.

Project site plan

The east intertidal lagoon (NURSERY A) and the west side lagoon (NURSERY B) have been used to develop two coral nurseries. The east lagoon (NURSERY A) is relatively flat and shallow, with a varying depth of 2-3 m depending on the tide. In some areas, seagrass patches are found and the sandy bottom is interspersed with few rocks, rubbles and hard coral colonies. The area receives daily water exchange from the open ocean which generates the dynamic currents flowing around the island. The nursery A is located in the proximity of a pier where daily fish feeding activities used to take place.

The west side (NURSERY B) is deeper with 3-6 m depth depending on the tide and the location (two round pins on the map indicate two different sites). On the west of the island the lagoon bottom is completely sandy and the suspended particulate matter is strongly affected by the sea conditions. Due to the environmental conformation, this side was stronger affected by the currents and the weather, this made the activities in the nursery quite challenging.  

The location of the coral nursery is really important to ensure healthy growth of corals. Ideally, a ‘hard coral’ nursery should have a good current flow (medium to strong), good water quality and sheltered from strong wave activities and must be easily accessible. After collecting data, we focused our efforts and resources on nursery A.

Project Outline

Project Components

The three main components of the project are;

  • Corals propagation, corals identification and fish identification.
  • Monitoring of coral growth on different substrates while educating the staff to raise awareness about coral reefs and its threats. 
  • Re-attach the corals on the reef substrates once grown into juvenile coral colonies (15 to 20 cm).

Work Methodology

The project involves researching coral growth and aims to link the research to find practical ways to re-attach corals on natural substrates once they are grown, using different coral rearing methods. The target was to maintain a small coral patch near the snorkelling area of the island and, hopefully, to sustain and assist the recovery of the reef.

All the coral fragments were collected from inside the lagoon. These fragments were broken off and fallen to the lagoon bottom and collected during snorkelling.

For purposes of analysis, the corals have been classified according to the form of coral growth: branching, submissive and digitate. The measurements were taken every week after attaching the corals on the frames, pods and lines. In total, 12 weeks of measurements have been collected. Before placing the fragments in the nurseries, the dead parts, sponges, algae and other organisms were removed.

The pyramid and the tower frames were installed earlier than the other frames. The coral fragments on the PVC bed nursery A were attached on 13th March 2018 and the corals tied on the lines which were attached on 28th March 2018. This study focuses on the blue bed PVC frame and on the fishing line frame.

The nursery A consists of dissimilar types of frames: one spider frame, two-tower frames, one pyramid frame, one blue bed made of PVC pipes (with cement bases) and a fishing line frame. All the frames, except for the PVC bed, are made of rebars.

The nursery B consists of two kinds of frames: one pyramid close to the jetty and one fishing line frame located further at a depth of 5-6 m. All the frames are made of rebars. The fishing line frame was laid on the 28th March 2018, while the pyramid was laid on the 8th of April 2018.

Coral Rearing Methods

As mentioned earlier, here are the 4 different coral rearing methods utilised. Below they are highlighted with pictures for reference

Corals attached to plastic pods & corals attached on cement cylindrical pods (PVC tube filled with cement) Nursery A – blue bed

Number of coral fragments attached: 117

Bleached corals: 4

Number of corals recovered from Bleaching: 1

Disease corals: No diseases found

Lost corals: 3 – 3 corals got bleached and the recovery was slow. Algae grew over the corals and they did not survive.

Current status: 114 coral colonies growing

Coral fragments tied in fishing lines

Number of coral fragments attached: 32

Bleached corals: 1

Number of corals recovered from Bleaching: 1

Disease corals: No diseases found

Lost corals: 8.  all the corals attached on the cement base were affected by the moving sediment.

Current Status: 24 coral colonies growing.

Corals attached on metal frames using cable ties (spider like)

Number of corals fragments attached: 43

Bleached corals: 2

Number of corals recovered from Bleaching: 2

Disease corals: No diseases found

Lost corals: 1.  Current Status: 42 coral colonies growing

Corals attached to natural substrates using epoxy

Number of coral colony attached: 14

Bleached corals: 2

Number of corals recovered from Bleaching: 2

Disease corals: No diseases found

Lost corals: 0 

Current Status: 14 coral colonies growing


Coral monitoring was carried out once a day for the first 12 months and the data are recorded on a weekly basis. During monitoring, any of the following activities may be carried out.

  • Cleaning off overgrown algae from coral nursery- scrubbing the algae using brushes.
  • Removing drupellas
  • Measuring the corals weekly
  • Recording tide and temperature
  • Removing dead corals
  • Removing diseased corals
  • Count the corals to identify lost corals.
  • Coral ID
  • Fish ID

In the nursery A, at the time of starting the nursery, fish feeding was carried out on the nearby pier. We observed that algaes have grown on the base of the nursery frame and over coral pods occupying the space that the coral fragments can grow onto. We cleaned the nursery from algae every day. We suspected the fish feeding considerably increased the organic matter in the water and speeded up the growth rate of algae. After a couple of weeks since the fish feeding was stopped, we noticed the growth rate of algae had reduced, and we rarely had to clean the nursery, instead, the herbivorous fishes grazing on algae was enough to keep them in check.  

The temperatures at the nursery area were always recorded as 30/31 degrees Celsius. The water temperature, on both sides, was usually the same and the depth (with low or high tide) is about 2-3 m in Nursery A, and 3-6 m in Nursery B.

Average Coral Growth

The average growth (cm) of corals on nursery A – cement pods on blue bed 

The average growth (cm) of corals on nursery A – fishing lines

The average growth (cm) of corals on nursery B – fishing lines

Referring to the above tables we can observe the difference between the growth of branching corals and the submassive corals.

The measurements were taken every week in the nurseries for twelve weeks after the corals were attached. The branching corals had a higher growth rate than the submassive ones. Both branching and submassive corals resulted to grow better on the fishing line frames both in nursery A and B.

While the corals were growing, we observed the abundance of fishes growing with them, with a strong predominance of juvenile forms. This is particularly interesting because the coral nurseries resulted to be nurseries not only for corals but also for all the other organisms which live linked to them. We have started relocating corals to natural substrates after 1 year and 2 months of growth. All the corals attached to reef substrates were attached using marine epoxy (marine cement).

All the coral fragments were collected from the lagoon area. The corals have now been attached to natural substrates, inside the same lagoon where they have been growing, to observe their growth and survival rates.

The corals are growing healthy after being attached to natural substrates.

Average Trend Of Growth Of Branching Corals

The analysis of corals growth shows that branching corals are the fastest-growing corals within the hard-coral species. The Acropora muricata resulted to be the fastest growing species among the other Acroporidae.

After attaching the fragments, it took almost a month for the corals to settle down and to heal its tissue. As you can see in the above graph, in the first 30 days the growth was really slow. After about 36 days the corals started growing faster and after a week they grew to double their size.

Hard Coral Species And Fish Species Found In The Nursery

We were able to identify the corals in the nursery into 8 species of corals within 3 genera. We have also identified 20 species of fish who have started to inhabit the corals in the nursery.

Hard Corals

Acropora muricata

Acropora humilis

acropora tenuis

Acropora anthocercis

Acropora pulchra

Acropora gemifera

Pocillopora meandrina

Heliopora coerulea

Fish species

Lutjanus Bangalensis – Bengal Snapper 

Lutjanus Gibbus – Hump back Snapper

Dasscullus aruanus – Humbug Damsel

Neopomacentrus cyanomos – Regal Damsel

Pomacentrus pavo – Azure Damsel

Rhinecanthus aculeatus – Picasso Triggerfish

Gymnothorax Fimbriatus – Spot face moray

Thalassoma lunare – Moon wrasse

Zebrasoma Scopas -Brown Tang

Dascyllus trimaculatus – three spot humbug 

Ctenochaetus binotatus – Two-spot bristletooth

Pterois radiata- White line Lionfish

Pterois volitans – Common Lionfish

Acanthurus triostegus- Convict surgeonfish

Hemitautoga scapularis – Zigzag wrasse

Chaetodon kleinii – Brown butterfly fish

Cirrhitichthys aprinus- Blotched hawkfish

Chrysiptera biocelata – White saddled damsel 

Labroides dimidiatus-  Blue steak cleaner wrassesCephalopholis argus- Peacock rock cod

Picture of Nursery A


What we can conclude is that in this given context, the fishing line frame in nursery A allowed corals to grow faster and healthier when compared to the other methods. We have observed that in nursery A corals need more time to start growing and the pigmentation is also lower due to the sea surface temperature and the amount of nutrients in the water. In nursery A, fish feeding considerably increased the organic matter in the water speeding up the growth rate of algae which compete with corals for the space. However, the conditions of water quality improved after fish feeding stopped, and the corals were observed to grow faster.

We were not able to check the acidification or test the water for various parameters. It will be interesting to further develop this study by including water quality parameters and increasing the number of measurements. Right now, due to the lockdown, there is no staff monitoring the coral nurseries. It is important to continue monitoring the corals reattached to the substrates.

There is a vast gap in local research on coral conservation projects in the Maldives. So, it will be good to have various studies to improve coral conservation methods to understand the growth of coral, their habitat and its resilience and the ability to adapt and to evolve to the changing environment.


Project report by Hassan Ahmed (Beybe) – Reef Check Instructor and the President of Save the Beach Maldives

Irene Pancrazi – Marine biologist

16th June 2020

2018 Litter Audit Report for Villimale’ Beach

Executive Summary

Beautiful natural beaches surrounded Villimale’, when it first became a residential island in the mid 90’s. It started out with only 7 families and reached 15,000 people by 2018. The beaches of Villimale’ are a favorite spot for weekend picnics. Back in the day people used the beach to wash and clean their pots and pans and also to throw away their (biodegradable) food waste into the sea. When plastic bags came into the picture, people started throwing out their food waste in plastic bags straight into the sea. There was usually however a designated area at the beach for dumping waste. Soon enough different types of trash started accumulating on the beaches, with little or no concern on the part of the community or the authorities, and the problem soon escalated. People had to swim in a lagoon full of trash. With concerns from surfers and the beach going community of Villimale’, Save the Beach Maldives (STBM) started the project, Conservation and Beatification of Villimale’, to protect the natural environment of the island and to maintain the conditions of the beaches and the surrounding reef. At the first ever clean-up of STBM in 2007, 3 tonnes of garbage were removed from the east beach only.

There were no base line surveys or audits of waste accumulating on the beaches of Maldives at the time STBM started it’s project. The first litter audit took place on Villimale’ east beach in 2012. Since then, a litter audit is done on the east beach every other year. Litter Audits help determine and understand how much litter is disposed over a given area over a period of time, and allowed us to observe the behavioral changes of the public after having introduced dustbins and signboards on the beaches of Villimale’.

Since placing dustbins in 2012, there has been a significant reduction in litter on visual observation on the beach. On week days, the beaches remain notably litter free. On Weekends, lots of people from Male’ and other islands visit the beaches and leave behind lots of litter. On the first litter audit in 2012, 72.78 kg of litter was collected and it was estimated that a total 14.91 tonnes of trash are littered on the east beach annually. However after 7 years of awareness programs, trainings, signboards and clean-up events, at the last litter audit in 2018 6.59 Kgs of litter was collected and it estimates that littering is down to 1.35 tonnes of trash annually. This is a 90% decrease in littering on the beaches of Villimale’ and a majority of people have started using the dustbins.

The litter from the beaches has significantly decreased but the amount of picnickers who use the beaches of Villimale’ increase every year.

This report consists and will elaborate on;
• Introduction to Villimale’ and scope of work by STBM
• The challenges to keep the beaches clean
• Objectives of doing litter audits
• Method of litter audit
• Audited sites
• Data analysis of litter audits
• Comparisons and extrapolation of litter audits from 2012 to 2018

Introduction of K.Villimale’

Villingili, administratively known as Villimale’, is an island in the North Male’Atoll and considered the fifth district of Male’, Maldives. It has a population of 15,000 people. The island lies about 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) west of Male’ island and is reachable via local ferry just 8 mins from Male . It has a 24-hour ferry service.
In the 1970’s Villimale’ used to be a resort. In fact Villimale’ was the second island developed to be a resort in the Maldives. A few guest rooms were developed on the northern and eastern side of the island with a restaurant and dive school . Then, Villimale’ was a island with naturals beaches surrounding the island. It was one of the best dive sites near Male’ with healthy reefs and the southeast channel is famous for diving with hundreds of sharks.

Plans for residential Villimale’ were developed around an environmental friendly island concept. Very few vehicles are allowed with permits issued for the police, hospital, electric company, few other heavy load vehicles and a buggy service operating as a taxi. 25% of the energy consumption of the island comes from renewable energy and is distributed to all households.

However after the development of harbors , jetties and reclamations, the natural environment of the island was impacted severely. With all the developments taking place , the island was left with only three small beaches. The beaches and reef which protect the island was fatally damaged. Most of the reef around the island were damaged by the reclamation and the development of harbors. The shoreline plants too disappeared. Save The Beach Maldives found the need to protect the island because it was the only island with natural beaches for use by more than a third of the Maldives population who lives in Male’, to go for picnics or to have a feel of the Maldives’ natural beauty.

Villimale’ before and after

Introduction of Save The Beach Maldives’ Clean-up Programs

STBM started cleaning the beaches of Villimale’ in 2007. During the first cleanup with the community in 2007, we collected more than 3 tonnes of litter from the East beach. There were lots of different types of trash from household waste to hazardous waste, including stoves, couches, beds, pillows, cupboards , TVs and oil barrels to name a few.

There are 40 dustbins placed on Villimale’ beaches today. On the east beach, there are 16 bins, with a dustbin to be found 100 feet of each other. Since placing dustbins STBM has been cleaning the dustbins and the beaches regularly in the morning every day. Clean-ups with schools and other organizations are also held every year at various events throughout the year. Several activities are held to create awareness and trainings have been conducted for the community.

In 2012 STBM started doing litter audits to determine the amount of littering on the beaches, to find out the impact of placing dustbins and to identify the behavioral changes of people after placing dustbins and signboards. Most importantly the litter audit helps determine if littering is decreasing or increasing on Villimale’ beaches.

Bins on Villimale’ beach

Session after a cleanup event in Villimale’


More people were drawn to the beaches once regular cleaning of beaches started. Maldivians love a barbecue on the beach. But due to erosion and sometimes wind, barbecuers choose a site directly under a tree causing fire and heat damage to the trees, leading parts of the tree to die. This results in the thinning out of vegetation on the beach. They also throw burnt charcoal on the beach.

With the help of the community, STBM developed a barbecue area near the island’s industrial area and the Southwest beach. This is now the only area on a beach where barbecuing is allowed.

Villimale’ lies between the garbage island (Thilafushi) and Male’. Lots of trash drifts to the beaches of Villimale’ in easterly monsoon from the east where Male’ is, and in the westerly monsoon, from the garbage island to the west of Villimale’. This is one of the biggest challenges we face to keeping the beaches of Villimale’ clean. During the westerly season, the people of Villimale’ also suffer from bad air and the smoke from the open waste burning in the garbage island. The waste from greater Male’ and Male’ atoll is dumped in Thilafushi every day and while the waste is not managed properly it is open burned.

A picture of Thilafushi

The cultural habit of throwing away our trash at the beach was another challenging factor faced at the beginning of the project. Since the introduction of plastic and plastic bags into our lives, lifestyles have dramatically changed.All household trash gets taken out in plastic bags, and even today, gets thrown in the sea, mixed with food waste and other recyclable items. If there is no waste management center on an island, larger household trash items will get thrown in the sea as well. Industrial waste gets dumped into the sea often, usually without being treated, not realizing we have made the waters toxic for the fish we eat and created an unhealthy ecosystem.

This practice is still happening all around the Maldives. We believe this was one of the reasons that we collected 3 tonnes of garbage at the first cleanup event held in Villimale’.

Volunteers and participants at an event in Villimale’

Objective of Litter Audit

The primary objective of the litter audits are to determine how much litter get disposed on the beaches, after having placed dustbins. It also identifies the different types of litter on the beaches and helps with decisions on where to place dustbins and within what proximity. It also shows the changes in behavior of the community and the people who use the beaches.

The aim is to decrease the amount of litter on the beaches,by placing dustbins, and through awareness activities and cleanups, training sessions on waste management, and by placing signboards.

What is litter?

Litter is rubbish that is thrown away after use, such as paper, cans, and bottles left lying in an open or public place like the beaches, parks or the ocean.

West beach of Villimale’ 2011

East beach of Villimale’ 2011

Method of Audit

First we estimate the area of the catchment(s) to be audited after which we estimate the sizes, number of sample areas and location of sample areas that will be used for the Litter Audit. We have to pay particular attention to prevailing environmental conditions and immediate environs and keep an awareness on the variable conditions affecting the audit result.

We have based our audits on a 7 day period for previous audits, therefore the same 7 day period was chosen for the 2018 audit as well. A minimum of 1 week is ideal for litter audits and the average will cover litter over the weekends as well as the weekdays.

The three sample sites which was used for previous audits was selected for this audit as well on the East beach to enable the comparison of yearly litter audits. We choose the most commonly used areas of Villimale’ East beach. The total length of the east beach is 105,400ft. Site 1 (100 x 100 ft, 10,000sq ft) is from the main beach area under the shade of the trees. Site 2 (70 x 100 ft, 7000sq ft) includes an area of the beach with the shoreline vegetation. Both these areas are used for camping, picnics and birthday parties because of the shade from trees. Site 3 (100 x 100ft 10,000sq ft) is chosen from the lagoon which most of the picnickers use for swimming and other water-related activities.

All the sites were cleaned prior to audit. The sites were then kept without cleaning for seven days to analyze the waste littered on the area. After 7 days we cleaned up the sites thoroughly to do the litter audit. The results of this audit will give the average of waste littered per day over the area during a 7day period.

In preparation for a litter audit, safety of participants were ensured as a first priority. Face masks, sanitizer, gloves and disposable coats (to cover the body) are used at the audit.

After collecting all the litter from selected audit sites separately, it is then segregated in different categories ei,  paper and cardboard, organics, glass, plastics, ferrous metals, non-

ferrous metals, chemicals and hazardous waste, packing box & composites and everything else categorized under “others”. Materials like sand or rock stuck inside items, ceramic, textiles, wood and other miscellaneous items are recorded in the “others” category. The trash is then weighed separately in categories and the data is recorded on the data sheets accordingly and analyzed. The data sheets and the analysis of the litter audit are attached to the report.

Sample form for litter audit data

Volunteers sorting collected litter for 2018 audit

Litter Audit Sites

Site 1 – Beach (100 * 100 ft, 10,000sq ft)

The sites were selected from among the most common area used by picnickers. People use this area to enjoy the shade and play games like dodgeball or volleyball. Sometimes campers also use the area. Four volunteers cleaned the site in 1 ½ hours. Comparing with previous years the litter collected was less than expected.

Since developing a barbeque area on the south side of Villimale’ in 2013, picnickers are not using the East beach to do barbeques anymore, so no charcoal was found during this year’s litter audit. Few balloons from parties were found but not weighable. The same volunteers with three additional volunteers did the auditing of the site.

Villimale’ east beach litter audit site 1

Site 2 – Beach With Shoreline Vegetation (100 * 70 ft, 70,000sq ft.)

To clean up site 2 for the audit, it took 2 hours with six volunteers,. This site was audited by the same volunteers along with a few other volunteers who did the litter audit last year.

Comparing to the previous cleanups, less litter was found in the area. In a cleanup in 2012, 7kgs of dry diapers and pads were collected from the same location.

However still, lots of single-use plastic were found in and around the bushes.

Five packets of supari and one full packet of supari, 2 Band-Aids and a piece of a condom was not weighable.

Villimale’ east beach litter audit site 2

Site 3 – Swimming Area With Beach (100 * 100ft 10,000sq ft)

The site was taken 100 ft from the shoreline vegetation with the lagoon. It took 2 ½ hours and three volunteers to clean the site while snorkeling to look for trash in the lagoon. In previous cleanups, lots of glass, cans, plates, and packets were seen closer to the restaurant areas. People used to throw “trash” into the lagoon while sitting in the restaurant.  The depth of the lagoon is only a meter during high tide, and therefore very shallow. Some glass jars and single-use plastics were found.

Few items were not weighable like a piece of rubber, and one packet of soup which was found.

Villimale’ east beach litter audit site 3

General Comments

In total, the amount of litter collected is less compared to the previous litter audits of Villimale’ east beach. Since placing the dustbins on the beaches, the amount of litter on the beaches have decreased significantly in the past six years. Most of the picnickers who use Villimale’ east beach have started using the dustbins. There are dustbins placed on the east beach of Villimale’ 50 to 100 feet apart. Dustbins are within reachable distance from any location on the beach, and every dustbin has a message saying not to litter.

In previous years, lots of plastic from party poppers and balloons were found. This time only a few balloons were found. People still throw their litter inside the bushes, maybe because they don’t want it to be seen near them where they sit (out of sight out of mind). In general, the litter collected from the lagoon is less, but the same kinds of materials were found compared to previous audits. Previously spoons and cups have been found in the lagoon near the restaurant, but this year only one drinking glass was found.

All audits were overseen by Hassan Ahmed (Beybe) of Save the Beach Maldives.

Litter Collected Over 7 Days in 2018 on Villimale’ East Beach

Below are the details of litter collected during the December 2018 litter audit in Villimale’ east beach by category.

In the Others category, we recorded pieces of ceramic, textiles, foot ware, sand, cement roofing sheets, cigarette packets and filters.

Comparison Of Data Collected From 2012 To 2018

Data And Analysis Of Litter Audit 2012

A total of 72.78 kg litter was collected in 2012 during the litter audit. It was the first litter audit for Villimale’ east beach. Which meant that 72.78 kg of litter was disposed on just a part of the east beach within a week in 2012. Dustbins were then introduced to all the beaches of Villimale’. Beaches were cleaned daily in the morning along with the trash in dustbins. When we started cleaning the beaches, it attracted more people to the beaches because it became a clean and safe area to go swimming. Most importantly people could now enjoy the natural beaches of Villimale’ without feeling like they are sitting in a trash pit.

From the litter collected the category with the highest weight wasOthers –  ceramic, textiles/fabrics/gloves, footwear, wood, charcoal, sand and water collected inside trashed items, etc. Next highest is the plastic bottles and other single-use plastics with 11 kgs.Making the comparison between categories by weight does not make for an ideal comparison, since the volume of plastics collected was a lot more but weighed less than the items in the Others category. 50 gms of charcoal from barbecues were found due to people using all the beaches around Villimale’ for barbecues with the east beach being the most commonly used beach. 7.83kgs of organic food waste was also found mostly from barbecues.

In average, the mass of litter per square feet at audit sites was 2.72 gm. The amount of litter disposed per day across the whole beach was 40.97 kg and annually amounted to 14.91 tonnes of litter and trash in 2012.

Data And Analysis Of Litter Audit 2014

In 2014 the total litter collected at the audit was 68.29 kg. The amount of litter was slightly less than the previous litter audit collection. There was a reduction of 4 kgs from the 2012 litter audit which is only a 6% decrease. It still meant that people had started using the dustbins.

In general, more plastics and non-ferrous metals were found within the perimeters. Included in non-ferrous metals are aluminum cans, foils, contaminated foils, etc. meaning that people were still leaving their food and contaminated foils on the beach after use. Food litter was less than in the previous audit. Most litter collected belonged in the “Others” category. In the plastics category, plastics were sorted according to recyclable categories and plastics without recyclable marks. Plastics were the second highest weighing category but remained the single most highest weighing item on the audit.

Charcoal was found in both 2012 and 2014 audits and surprisingly more in 2014. After developing a barbeque area, more people used the designated area for barbecuing than at random spots on the beach, although people did use the beach still occasionally for making barbecues.

An average mass of 2.55 gm of litter per square feet were disposed on the audit sites . The amount of litter per day was estimated at 38.4 kg. The accumulated amount of litter per week was 269 kg and calculates to 13.9 tonnes of litter annually.

Data And Analysis Of Litter Audit 2016

In 2016 the total amount of litter collected from three sites was 37.90 kgs. In percentages, it is 44% less litter compared to 2014. This is a good improvement in littering habits.

The litter that carried the most weight was wood. The wood pieces collected near the shoreline had algae and other organisms growing on it. That showed that most of the wood collected was drifted, while some were definitely clean cut wood pieces disposed off on the beach . Some of the picnic goers use wood pieces to sit on or to keep their food on. Some people take back the wood pieces after using, while others leave them behind on the beach. The second heaviest item recorded was construction blocks and plastics was the third.

It is also good to note that the usage of random spots on the beach for barbecue fires has almost completely ceased with no charcoal found at audit sites in 2016.

The average amount of litter disposed per day across the whole beach was 22.92 kg translating to 8.34 tonnes of litter annually.

Data And Analysis Of Litter Audit 2018

The weighed litter is in grams because the litter collected in 2018 audit was less than a kg on all categories other than Glass, Plastic and Others.

In 2018, the amount of litter collected was less compared to all of the previous years. Most collected category of litter was plastics. In total, only about 7 kgs of litter were collected from the three sites. While some organic waste was found and notably no charcoal was found. The few metal items found included a lid, a piece of wire, steel cans, two aluminum cans and a piece of contaminated foil. Only one diaper and a medicine card were identified as hazardous. In the Others category there were some ceramics, textiles, footwears and a few cigarette filters.

Among the litter collected, nothing was identified as “household waste” in 2018.

The accumulated amount of litter per week across the beach was calculated at 25.98 kg and annually it comes to 1.35 tonnes of litter.

Statistics of Plastics Accumulated on Villimale’ East Beach From 2012 to 2018

On average, from 2012 to 2018, plastic was the most collected single item on east beach. But over the years we have noticed that the amount of plastic litter is reducing. In all of the audits plastic remains one of the categories highest in volume compared to other categories. In 2012 there was 11.89 kg of Plastic, in 2014 it was 12.06 kgs, in 2016 it was 5.65 kg and in 2018 it was 3.45 kg.

According to a 2008 statistic from Environment Ministry, 62 tonnes of plastic are collected per day in the Maldives. Plastic is one the biggest problems for waste management in the Maldives, as is the case around the world. Comparing the data for plastic collection between 2012 and 2014, it shows that we collected 0.17 kg more in 2014. While the overall statistic show that the amount of plastic litter on the beach has reduced over time, the actual amount of plastic as a percentage of the total litter collected has not reduced. In 2012, plastics constituted 16% of the total litter, in 2014 it was 18%, in 2016 it was 15% and in 2018 plastics accounted for 52% of the litter collected at the audit. There is still a lot of single use plastic littered on the beaches.

Below are the plastic items that were found in the 2018 audit.

Lots of plastic drift to the beaches of Villimale’ either from Male’ or Thilafushi. Quite a lot of trash also gets into the sea while being transported from Male’ or other islands and resorts, due to waste not being properly stored on the boat. Occasionally, big plastic bags (240 liter bags) full of mixed waste from resorts and islands drift on to the beaches of islands. By identifying the waste we can differentiate whether it came from a local island or a resort, as there are significant differences in the products used. Usually waste from the resorts have branding on wrappers or the products itself will give away whether it is a hotel product or a household product. The waste from local islands are usually in small plastic bags. There are also 5 liter water bottles and household waste items.

Summary of Litter Audits of Villimale’ East Beach from 2012 to 2018 

In total, the amount of litter collected in 2018 was less compared to previous years. Only 6.59 kg of litter was collected from the 3 sites together.

As a percentage, there is a 90% decrease compared to the first litter audit from 2012. This is a very good sign of improvement in people’s behavior towards the use the beach and dustbins. It is wonderful achievement that between 2016 and 2018, the littering decreased significantly by 83%.

Total Litter Accumulated Per-Day 2012-2018

The general public who use the beach are seen to be more aware of the dustbins, since on visual observation, even over the weekends, the beaches seem a lot litter free and you can observe more people using dustbins compared to earlier years.

Total Litter Accumulated Per-Year In Tonnes 2012-2018

While a significant decrease is not visible in the first year after placing dustbins, since 2014 there has been a noteworthy reduction in littering behavior among beach goers. The data shows that amount of litter thrown on the beaches of Villimale’ slowly and steadily decreased until the last audit in 2018.


These litter audits prove the amount of litter on Villimale’ beaches are decreasing since dustbins were placed on the beaches. The amount of litter we had to audit had decreased significantly and when compared to the first audit in 2012, there has been a 90% reduction in litter on the east beach in 2018.

It can be safely said that most people use the dustbins on the beach in Villimale’. The amount of people using the beaches have not decreased, but rather on visual observation, the people who use the beach seem to have increased. Yet with this increase, it is very positive to note the reduction in litter. During the past six years, we have continued to carry out various awareness programs with the community and other organizations, conducted training programs, aired television infomercials, placed sign boards on the beach, replaced dustbins as required, organized cleanup programs and participated in cleanups organized by other institutions. Regular activities and actions have greatly assisted the Villimale’ community take on a sense of ownership towards keeping the beaches clean. The great news today is that the community of Villimale’ have forgotten how trashed the beaches were prior to 2012. Today, the residents of Villimale’ are very proud of their clean beaches.

Villimale’ east beach 2018

Volunteers Who Participated in the Litter Audit 2018

Hassan Ahmed (Beybe)

Thanzeela Naeem

Ismail Yooh

Ibrahim Lausam

Ibrahim Mizal

Ibrahim Jilwaz

Shigdhar Shagoore

Ajila Mohamed

Ismail Moosa

Ibrahim Navaz

Aminath Nazra

Rina Idrus


All the data collected is from Villimale’ east beach. There can be variabilities on holidays, and weekends, and weather among other factors can affect the amount of litter on the beach. The most peak times of beach usage are the weekends and the holidays throughout the year.

Rocky Times Stronger Comebacks

We have some sad news, unfortunately some times NGO work is hard with financial and personnel constraints causing some real challenges and difficult situations as a result. As such, due to some technical difficulties a large amount of coverage has gone missing from our site, though we have thankfully managed to secure back our domain. Nevertheless, nearly all of our events and activities have been covered on social media and can be perused on our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels at any time. The good news is that the website is being rebuild and will be up before the end of the year.

Agreement Promoting Marine Research in Maldives signed with Albatros Top Boat and University of Genoa



We are thrilled to announce the signing of an agreement between Save the Beach Maldives and Albatros Top Boat, who have been actively engaged in research, teaching and training on the marine environment of Maldives for the past 19 years in association with University of Genoa in Italy.

The agreement aims to promote educational and research activities, knowledge sharing and dissemination through creating specific projects.

Albatros Top Boat has organized an annual expedition in Maldives in collaboration with University of Genoa, where scientists and research students study various marine areas and have collected data for nearly two decades. They have published one book on their findings and published several articles over this time. Among their most exciting discoveries was the blue hole, which the team thoroughly studied to conclude that it had once been a cave above ground.

We are excited that this partnership which will seek to train and involve locals in this very important research. The partnership also plans to develop programs that will run continuously throughout the year.

Albatros Top Boat & Save the Beach Maldives resized Albatros Top Boat & Save the Beach Maldives signing agreement

Annual General Meeting 2015

Save the Beach Annual General Meeting 2015

The second Annual General Meeting of Save the Beach Maldives was held on 11 November 2015 at Save the Beach’s headquarters in Villimale’.

Plans for next year were discussed and approved by members and volunteers.

Much thanks to all members and volunteers who have agreed to assist with next year’s projects and to all those who have been continuously contributing their time, efforts and ideas on behalf of the board of Save the Beach Maldives.

For a turquoise tomorrow!