Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme - 2013 - Date

Founded in 2006, the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) is a research-based conservation charity dedicated to studying the whale shark and fostering community-focused conservation initiatives in the Maldives and the greater Indian Ocean.

In January 2013 we were invited to visit the team in the field to learn more about the programme. This research trip proved invaluable in providing context about the organisations current remit and ambitious vision for development, but critically it gave an insight into an intangible but integral facet of the organisation which to that point had not been represented in their communication – the community. From the researchers themselves to the crew of the iconic dhoni boat they use, the volunteers on the programme to the dive school on Dhigurah, the warmth and genuine passion of the people behind the project were what needed to be highlighted.

Using this experience as a foundation, we devised a structure which positioned research first but afforded equal weighing to volunteering and community information. We identified the programmes alumni as being an under-utilised asset for advocacy and encouraged them to be involved in the ongoing culture of the organisation to whatever capacity they were able, from blog posts to ongoing research and data processing, speaking about their own experiences in their native communities to re-visiting.

The focus of social media content shifted from exclusively in-field photography to incorporate images which better articulated life in the Maldives and the individuals whom contribute to the project. A spotlight on the marine discovery days and whale shark festivals the team run in collaboration with local islands expands this narrative and provides a more well-rounded picture of the organisation’s activity.

We are very proud to continue to support MWSRP, more information about the charity, its aims and volunteering opportunities can be found on their website.