Meet a conservationist living the dream in the Maldives

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Hannah Moloney’s marine biology degree has taken her on quite the journey: from humble beginnings on the Victorian south-west coast to one of the most exotic locations on earth.

Now working at a five-star resort in the Maldives, Hannah’s passion for the sea began with an interest in conserving marine life in her own waterfront neighbourhood.

Forging connections

‘At the end of high school (in Warrnambool) I was encouraged to do some volunteer work to help prepare me for university and to add to my resume to help get jobs,’ Hannah says from her Maldives idyll.

It turned out pretty well. She ended up starting her own small conservation group and enrolled as a volunteer in various conservation causes across Australia.

‘There’s no experience more rewarding than volunteering with others who are just as passionate about the same issues as you are,’ she says.

The opportunity included helping communities and contributing to a positive outcome for their local environment.

Those who were mentoring Hannah gave her some good advice and she soon enrolled at Deakin University, ‘one of the best universities in Australia for marine biology’.

‘My experience with Deakin opened up lots of doors in the community with voluntary work, which ultimately helped me get my first career-related job with Parks Victoria as a Marine Summer Ranger.’

From Parks Victoria, Hannah continued refining her search, honing in on a niche she could really sink her teeth into. After another brief volunteer stint, doors started opening abroad, with an opportunity to work in dolphin and whale research.

The Maldives offer came soon after.

The Maldives

Hannah’s work falls into three broad areas and acts both as a direct conservation exercise, but also helps the locals manage their own backyard.

There are numerous problems relating to the local environment and its future sustainability – including waste management – but Hannah and her team are tackling these head on.

‘We do turtle and manta ray population monitoring and we run a coral propagation project to help increase the marine life around the resort. We also do conservation outreach with staff members,’ she says.

‘This is in an attempt to lead the resort towards more eco-friendly practices and to educate staff about the things they can do to help protect the environment.

‘We also hope that local Maldivians adopt these practices and take this mind-set back to their home islands.

‘Although it’s often forgotten as the resorts do a very good job of hiding the fact, the Maldives is still a third world country.’

'I live in a weird reality on a resort island. The resort has 850 staff members from 42 different countries and we attempt to function like a normal community.'

Hannah Moloney,
Deakin University graduate

Commitment and passion

Such is the futility of some marine environments, Hannah admits that she sometimes questions why she chose this path.

But she is inevitably brought back to the realisation that what she does can help save animal lives and help maintain the balance between mankind and nature.

Hannah believes her story is possible for anyone to emulate. All you need is commitment and to find something you love to do. ‘If you are passionate about something, go for it. Don’t worry if it’s going to bring you money or not, put happiness and experiences first. Money and good things will follow if you are truly happy,’ she says.

‘Because I showed initiative and true passion, my lecturers at Deakin really helped me achieve my goals, which gave me the all-important tool of self-belief.

‘I have chosen to live life to the fullest and do what I love. I know I can’t change the world but I’ll be damned if I stop trying!’

Find out more about studying marine and freshwater biology at Deakin University.

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