THE FIRST TIME I took a biology class, sat in a drab, windowless lab room at my high school in Phoenix. Last time, last November, I was on a boat in the Indian Ocean as conservation biologist Sol Milne tried to convince me not to worry about swimming next to sharks.

Just when the mercury was starting to drop in Chicago, where I now live, I had traveled 9,000 miles and spent all possible Marriott Bonvoy points and airline miles to meet a friend at 100 Ritz-Carlton Maldives Villas, Fari Islands during five days of sunshine and azure seas. What I didn’t expect was a crash course in marine ecology. The resort, which opened last June on a man-made archipelago, is one of the hosts of the Environmental Ambassadors program, developed by Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society and offered at a handful of Ritz resorts. -Carlton. Activities vary by resort, many of which are aimed at children, but they all share an educational goal. At the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, the program includes free lectures by Dr. Sol (as he is called) on the marine life of the Indian Ocean, as well as outdoor excursions at an additional cost. You can sign up for a snorkeling trip with Dr. Sol (for $150 per person) or a snorkel tour with a naturalist and “dive butler” (from around $130 per person). On some dive trips, clients strategically plant 3D printed coral around the atoll in an effort to seed a new reef.