Meet Lauren Kennedy, The Marine Biologist of Coco Bodu Hithi
Aug, 29 2023
Coco Bodu Hithi is thrilled to welcome our new Marine Biologist from Ayrshire, Scotland- Lauren Kennedy.
Lauren graduated with her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Marine Biology at the University of Glasgow. She has worked for environmental consultancies in Scotland and has also taken Marine Research Assistant roles in Egypt and Fiji, where she learned a variety of survey techniques and research skills which has been useful in her current role here at the island.
“Some of my other experience has involved working with a marine conservation charity on Arran, a beautiful Scottish island. I previously collected data to explore the abundance of commercially important shellfish within the local protected area and ‘No Take Zone’, where fishing is prohibited. During this time, I also worked in the marine education centre, teaching guests about local marine life, and running trips to explore rock pools. I believe this experience will prove to be very valuable in my new role on Bodu Hithi!” says Lauren.
1. What was your first impression of the island?
When I first arrived to Coco Bodu Hithi, I was greeted by stunning turquoise waters and white sand. Upon walking a little further into the island, I was surrounded by a variety of beautiful trees forming a canopy overhead. This gave me the immediate impression of a quiet, relaxing, and tranquil island, where you can feel at peace from the rest of the world, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. Here the team does an amazing job of keeping the island very clean and well-maintained, whilst still allowing it to feel like a natural island wilderness!
2. What inspire you to work in this industry?
I grew up surrounded by trees and wild animals, and spent my childhood exploring the insects and birds in my garden. This, as well as a love for nature documentaries (particularly those by David Attenborough, of course!) gave me a passion for the natural world, which I knew I wanted to spend my life working to preserve. In my teens, I was torn between pursuing a career in Marine Biology or as a Veterinarian. Then, 10 years ago on a family holiday to the Maldives, I fell in love with snorkelling on the house reefs and hanging out with the lovely green turtles of Lhaviyani atoll. This was the turning point in my career, when I knew I wanted to work in the waters with these amazing animals, and do everything I could to preserve the Earth’s natural beauty for the next generation.
3. How would you advise our guests to protect marine life?
There are many ways people can help to protect marine life, which we can all try to implement in our daily lives:
• Try to lower your carbon footprint by reducing your meat consumption, minimising vehicle use, and saving energy (turn off lights, lower thermostat).
• Use reef-safe sunscreens when entering into the water (these are free from chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are damaging to corals).
• Discard of litter correctly, and recycle where possible.
• Fish responsibly, discard of nets and lines in the bin – not the sea. Choose sustainably-caught fish and shellfish.
• Do not touch or disturb marine life, and don’t take any shells or sand from beaches. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”.
• Practice responsible tourism – don’t support dolphinariums, choose environmentally-conscious tourist companies, and avoid buying souvenirs made from marine life, such as shells, shark-tooth necklaces, or dried animals.
4. In your opinion, what are the best ways of preserving Endangered Marine Species?
This is a difficult one, but I think one of the best ways to protect endangered species is to try to reduce your carbon footprint in the ways mentioned previously. Climate change poses a huge risk to our oceans and marine life. Large companies are some of the worst contributors to global emissions, so sign petitions and speak up to encourage them to take action. Be mindful of what you eat – support local, sustainable fisheries, and limit red meat consumption. A great way to help preserve endangered marine species is to educate yourself and others about the value of our marine life, which will inspire a desire to protect them. Take action by participating in beach cleans, volunteering with local marine charities, or support them with donations. At Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, you can adopt a coral frame to help preserve the coral reefs around the islands, as a unique way to celebrate a special occasion or as a gift.