The Stand Up for Our Seas team, on Friday, journeyed through the waters of Muthaafushi reef, a location in Baa Atoll that is famous for spotting Manta Rays.
With wind speeds at 12 knots gusting 16, in the opposite direction, the team faced a battle of will, reaching 2 miles in 2 hours. As the heat and effects of dehydration began to pose a serious danger, the team temporarily returned to the support boat.
As paddling resumed, two Manta Rays emerged circling the paddleboards, and the team promptly joined the inquisitive creatures for a swim.
The plankton-feeders, which have a reputation of approaching calm snorkelers, swooping around the four women, who revelled in the experience.
"These gentle plankton-feeders were swooping around us in the water, showing off their agility - what an absolute privilege!", exclaimed Dr Claire Petros, who is charged with leading the event.
Energized by the appearance of their newly made marine friends, the women proceeded to paddle two and a half miles to the uninhabited island of Muthaafushi.
Due to the fact that Muthaafushi is an uninhabited island, regular cleanups are not conducted to remove marine debris in the area, and the team were greeted by an abundance of waste that had accumulated on the shores.
Despite harsh winds preventing the team from clearing the water around the island, the four women managed to collect a total of 10 large bags filled with plastic waste. Weighing approximately 30 kilograms, all of the collected waste is set to be delivered to Parley Maldives for recycling.
The Stand up For Our Seas team stressed the importance of avoiding single-use plastic whenever possible, as even areas where there should be no human impact was such as Muthaafushi was plagued with plastic.
"Most of the bottles [collected] were plastic water bottles - another reminder of how important and impactful using a reusable bottle instead is!", added Claire.
Right before dusk, the team arrived at the next stop for Stand Up for Our Seas, luxury resort Vakkaru Maldives, where they spent the night, followed by informative sessions throughout Saturday.