Maldivian Aquanauts

Ten Maldivian marine scientists leading first descents in high-tech submersibles to explore Maldives’ unknown deep ocean.

Shafiya Naeem, Director General, Maldives Marine Research Institute (MMRI)
Shafiya leads the Maldives Marine Research Institute (MMRI) at the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture responsible for policy driven strategic research, including on fisheries resources, mariculture and coral reefs to inform sustainable ocean management. From her Batchelor of Aquaculture, University of Tasmania to her MSc in Aquatic Pathobiology, University of Stirling, Shafiya’s specialist research areas range from tuberculosis-type disease in sea horses to ongoing work in grouper hatchery development.

Mohamed Ahusan, Senior Research Officer, MMRI
Ahusan is a Senior Research Officer at MMRI and leads the Maldivian team aboard the Knowledge Exchange Expedition, part of the Nekton Maldives Mission. He also was instrumental in the development of the research science plan and the expedition from the Maldives side. Ahusan has been part of various research activities at MMRI, including on coral reefs, reef fisheries and mariculture with a current focus on tuna fisheries. At present, he focuses on pelagic fishery research activities at MMRI and engages with the Working Parties and the Scientific Committee of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the Regional Fishery Management Organization for tunas in the Indian Ocean.

Fathimath Hana Amir, Marine Biologist, MMRI
Hana oversees the Ecosystems Division and leads the coral reef research programs including assessing long-term monitoring sites and identifying and testing new methods of restoration and rehabilitation. Her specific research interests relate to GIS mapping, temporal and spatial variation of reef systems and their natural and anthropogenic drivers as well as settlement and reproductive growth of corals.

Dr. Ahmed Riyaz Jauharee, Senior Scientific Officer, MMRI
Riyaz works at the pelagic research unit with focus on billfish fishery and the live bait fishery associated with the tuna fishery. Prior to joining MMRI, Riyaz worked in the education sector for 17 years where he wrote the Maldives Fisheries Science Curriculum that continues to be taught nationwide. Riyaz obtained his MSc in Tropical Marine Exology and Fisheries Biology from Kames Cook University, Australia and PhD from University of Montpellier, France.

Mohamed Shimal, Marine Biologist, MMRI
Shimal has been working at MMRI since 2015, currently overseeing the Reef-based Fisheries monitoring and research. His main activities are focused on improving and implementing fisheries monitoring and research programs for data-limited reef-based fisheries in the Maldives. Shimal also works at the Sustainable Fisheries Resources Development Project, funded by the World Bank, as a Science & Research Coordinator, overseeing research components of the project. In addition to main research activities, Shimal has a specific interest in data management and data analysis through R programming. He holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science, specializing in wildlife and conservation biology from Charles Darwin University, Australia, and a Master of Science in Marine Biology at Bangor University, UK.

Hussain Moosa, Assistant Marine Research Officer, MMRI
Hussain’s research is focused on sharks (pelagic and reef sharks), and their prevalence as a critical indicator of ocean health. Hussain was previously a member of the MMRI Coral Unit and is an experienced SCUBA instructor and fisher.

Hussein Zahir, President, Small Island Research Group (SIRG)
For over 25 years, Zahir has been leading research on coral reef ecology, deep sea biota (animal and plant life), with a specific interest in seamounts. His coral reef surveying was instrumental in studying the impact, change and recovery of the coral community in Maldives through one of the first document bleaching events in 1998.

Aminath Shaha Hashim, Maldives Programme Manager, Blue Marine Foundation & Chairperson of NGO, Maldives Resilient Reefs.
Through the two organisations, Shaha has been a key figure working on conservation and sustainable reef fishery advocacy. She has been instrumental in establishing a protected area network in Laamu Atoll, Maldives and establishing a seagrass monitoring network. In the past, she's played a key role in grouper fishery management in Laamu Atoll, working on stock monitoring and running awareness campaigns on management of this valuable resource. Shaha is currently completing a distance Masters of Science with University of Exeter, focusing on unravelling historic reference points for marine resources in the Maldives.

Aleef Abdulla Naseem, Marine Biologist, Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd,
Aleef works on environmental projects undertaken by Government as well as the private sector. He has extensive knowledge on marine ecological surveying and physical oceanographic surveying. In addition to the EIA work conducted by the company, Aleef has also played a key role in conducting baseline biodiversity assessments for community conserved areas in 5 islands of Noonu Atolls. In the past he has also volunteered in the Maldives Whaleshark Research Programme and participated in several ocean clean up events. Aleef holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology from the University of Plymouth.


Farah Amjad, Nekton Maldives Mission’s Research Assistant at the MMRI.
Farah is a Maldivian marine researcher with over eight years of experience in the field. Her primary area of work has been coral reef ecology and conservation science, and most of her work has focused on coral reef health monitoring and restoration. Her current research interests include GIS habitat mapping, biodiversity assessments as well as the investigation of spatial and vertical connectivity of epibenthic and megafauna communities. Farah has worked with environmental consultancy firms and conservation organisations such as Manta Trust and Olive Ridley Project to study marine species' population dynamics and conduct awareness and outreach programmes with local non-governmental organisations. She is a Reefcheck Eco-diver trainer and conducts citizen-science-focused training at her local dive school and on safari boats. Farah received a fellowship from the Earthwatch Institute in 2017 for the project "Coral communities in the Seychelles" and participated in research on the Seychelles islands of Praslin and Curieuse. In 2019, she also won the Earthwatch Shulman award and received a one-year research study grant focused on early-career scientists. Farah holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Management focusing on marine ecology and is currently finishing her MSc in Int. Marine Science at Heriot-watt University, Edinburgh. Farah is an avid scuba diver with PADI Divemaster and PADI Sidemount certifications and a member of the International Coral Reef Society.