11 Questions With The Marine Educator at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, Rosalie Bailie

Feb, 08 2022

We are delighted to introduce you to our Marine Educator at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu!

Rosalie Bailie has a background in tropical marine biology, with specialties in coral restoration and benthic research. Her previous projects involved working in the Red Sea, Kenya, Ireland and Scotland. Most notably, she is experienced in coral restoration, where she developed a new restoration site in Diani Beach, Kenya.

Growing up on the coast of Ireland, Rosie developed a passion for wildlife and being near the sea. With the determination to become a conservationist, she volunteered at animal sanctuaries and wildlife centres throughout her school summers. During her honours degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology, she led a research expedition team to Egypt, to study light preferences of different coral species on the slopes of Abu Sauatir reef. After working with schools in Egypt and the U.K., she recognized the importance of education and outreach in the fight against climate change and saving our oceans.

Following her introduction to SCUBA diving in 2018, Thailand, she became fascinated by coral reefs and the impacts of human activities. She is keen to develop the coral restoration programme here at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and implement her previous experiences to help preserve our corals and kick-start the coral reef recovery process.

1. What does a typical day look like for you on Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu?

One of the most exciting part of my job is that every single day is different, especially when it comes to the underwater world. You cannot predict the encounters or experiences you will have with the marine life each day. One thing for sure is guaranteed, and that is that I will be underwater at some point! Whether this is leading a guest excursion trip to the stunning reefs at Baa atoll, or monitoring and developing the coral restoration project here at Dhuni Kolhu. When on land, you can find me submitting turtle and manta identifications photographs, researching new methods of coral restoration and educating guests about our incredible marine life.

2. You’ve had some time to explore the island and the reef surrounding it. What’s your favourite snorkelling spot?

The reef at the North-Eastern side of the island is definitely my favourite snorkel spot. There’s something so special about the steep reef edge drop off and when visibility is good you can see the whole way down to the bottom. I love freediving down to see the overhanging corals and looking to see which fish are hiding amongst these. Occasionally, this is where dolphins pass through and the reef fills up with sounds of clicking and whistles.

3. What made you fall in love with the ocean and interested in marine conservation?

I grew up near Belfast Lough, in Northern Ireland, where I spent my childhood exploring rock pools and looking for crabs. My curiosity for the underwater world was heightened by the works of David Attenborough, which I’m sure has developed this generation of conservationists. These documentaries have opened the eyes of millions of people to the incredible views of the underwater world. Learning about nature and our oceans has never been so accessible. Discovering the effects of human activities and the development of climate change whilst at school really drove my desire to do something about it. Coral reefs have always fascinated me; these are the tropical rainforests of our oceans. 25% of all marine life depend on them in some way and not to mention the importance to humans as well.

4. What’s your favourite water sports activity?

I started SCUBA diving four years ago and fell in love as soon as I hit the water. Entering the water to me feels like I’m entering a different planet. Although coral reefs are an incredibly noisy place, there is an amazing sense of peace and tranquillity here.

5. What tips would you give to any new snorkellers?

Enjoy it! Relax and look around you, wherever you swim here there is always marine life. Remember to appreciate the nature and to keep awareness of your surroundings. Make sure to not kick or stand on the reef and to avoid touching or disturbing the marine life.

6. What’s the best sunset spot on the island?

Definitely at the beach bar! Every sunset is different, but each is incredible. The sky often turns pink and red and reflects off the ocean.

7. You’ve worked in some interesting locations before coming to the Maldives, from Scotland to Kenya to the Red Sea. What’s the most interesting marine creature you’ve encountered on your travels?

I’ve had some magical experiences with an octopus I became familiar with in Kenya. Initially it was wary of me, and would hide away. However, after weeks of surveys at the same site, it gradually became more comfortable with me and would come out of its den to see what I was up to.

8. A tricky question for anyone living here in Baa Atoll – manta rays or whale sharks?

Mantas! I just love how graceful and playful they are when gliding through the water. If you respect them and give them their space, it’s amazing to see how curious they become with snorkelers. I always advise snorkelers to stay 3m away from the mantas, however they may come a lot closer to us than this! Many times I have been circled or have one of these gentle giants swim right underneath me. It is always a memorable experience. That being said, I definitely wouldn’t mind coming across a whale shark or two….

9. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is famous for being a green sea turtle nesting site. What should guests do if they see a turtle nest?

Let us know! Along with the Olive Ridley Project team, we will be on call for any signs of turtle nesting. If you come across a sea turtle on the beach in the nesting process, it is important to not disturb her! Torch lights and loud sounds could result in the turtle not laying eggs. Nests are monitored regularly here and we collect data on the nest and hatchlings.

10. What new marine biology projects are you looking forward to working on at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu?

I look forward to experimenting with new artificial reef designs to develop the coral restoration program here. Different frame shapes attract different marine life and I am excited to see where this project goes and what marine life will become residents!

11. And finally, 3 words to describe Coco Palm?

Peaceful, natural and unique

Next time, we’ll meet the Marine Educator at Coco Bodu Hithi so stay tuned!

Categories: People Coco Cares