Le Méridien is one of many resort hotels on the motus (little islands) on the archipelago of Bora Bora. However, we heard this one had set up something called an Eco Centre and that they were positively contributing to protecting and helping sea life in Bora Bora. Obviously we wanted to go check it out and see the kind of work they were doing and hopefully speak to some like-minded conservationists. I’m very pleased to report that they're doing some great marine conservation work over there!
We contacted the biologist over there named Melanie and she very kindly invited us over for a visit and a tour. They have a lovely facility based in the grounds of the resort that is doing quite a few different things and Melanie hopes to expand even further soon to do more research on a wide range of cool topics.
The focus of their work at the moment is sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation. They are regularly contacted by local people who see injured or ill turtles and the Eco Centre collects them and tries to fix them up, give them some TLC and then when they’re ready release them back into the ocean. Common issues they encounter in the turtles they rescue are infections from wounds, injuries from boat propellers and just simple disorientation and weakness. They work closely with a vet to give them a full health check (and things like antibiotics if needed), feed them up to get them strong again and if possible release them back into the wild.
Generally, when they arrive they are not very strong swimmers due to their injuries or illnesses and so they’re kept in a special holding facility where they can be monitored closely and fed properly. However, when they’re ready they are taken to a shallow lagoon for some daily exercise to help them get their strength back and get them ready for release.
The Eco Centre also has a classroom with which it runs educational sessions for French Polynesian school groups and resort guests on turtle conservation. At the back of the classroom is a mini museum with some marine artifacts and a display of conservation and sea themed artwork by local artists and kids that have visited. They also have a few little aquariums set up to show not only school groups but also all visitors to the Eco Centre and Le Méridien the amazing marine life that Bora Bora has to offer. This is the area Melanie hopes to expand into next; to do some research into coral bleaching and the problems effecting reefs not just here but across the world. Everything here is set up to add educational value to their guests visit which is great; whether that’s through talks on threats to sea turtles or info up about Bora Bora fish life. All in all, a very positive and inspiring little trip!
It was great to see the work they’re doing now and hear about work they want to start. Hopefully we’ll hear from them soon to find out how they get on with their research. Huge thanks to Melanie and her team for showing us around.