My Life as a Marine Biology Intern
Hi everyone. I am Mailis, Seamarc’s new marine biology intern at the Marine Discovery Centre here at Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru. I am in the final year of my ‘Agronomy and Animal Technologies’ course, and decided to specialise in sea turtle conservation.
On my arrival at Landaa, we had a total of seven Olive Ridley turtle patients that had been found floating on the surface of the ocean or rescued from entanglement in drifting ghost fishing nets. People from around the Maldives send rescued and sick animals to our large specialised treatment and rehabilitation centre.
I have been busy working alongside Sarah, assisting with pool cleaning and turtle care, along with feeding and monitoring (measuring, weighing and photographing.) ‘Deviana’ recently underwent amputation surgery, and needs a lot of care and attention (antibiotics, daily wound cleaning, application of Betadine and Silveleb creams).
Two further turtles also needed significant attention: Bonita and Kalo. Kalo arrived on 20 April with a large abscess on the left front flipper, and we had to cut through it in order to remove all the infected liquid. Unfortunately, Kalo’s overall health was very poor and we were not able to save him.
Another important project here is the Reefscapers Coral Frame Propagation Programme to enhance the coral reefs around the resort. I have been assisting our Coral Biologist, Alexia, to collect coral fragments and put them on coral frames, which are sponsored by guests.
We continually monitor coral growth by photographing each frame for a central database, and carry out re-transplantation when necessary (replacing dead corals on existing frames). We monitor each coral frame and their growth by taking pictures every six months and when it’s necessary we replace any dead corals with new living fragments.
I get to assist Sarah and Julien on Guided Snorkel Adventures, Turtles Safaris and Dolphins Cruises. Before each excursion there is a Marine Life Presentation for guests, to inform them about the different animals they are likely to encounter, along with some biology and conservation information. In just a short few weeks, I have seen a lot of Spinner Dolphins, Hawksbill Turtles, Black Tip Reef Sharks and of course lots of colourful and varied marine life… a wonderful moment each time!
I was recently assisting in the release of Green Turtle hatchlings as part of the Nest Protection Programme. We all gathered at the MDC for a brief presentation, and then took a boat for a 30 minute ride to the island of Fenfushi. It is an uninhabited agricultural island, where the island caretakers are actively involved in protecting the turtle nests and taking care of the young hatchlings. We had a tour of the island before collecting up the hatchlings from their temporary pools, and releasing them safely out to sea (in deep water between Baa and Raa Atolls).
The care and rehabilitation of the turtles here is very satisfying work.
Vasya (a Green Turtle) was being kept as a pet on a local island called Thulhaadhoo (SW of Baa Atoll) for about one year. The turtle seemed in good health, but might have some deficiencies and the front flippers appear to be shorter than usual. Vasya stayed for 10 days under observation at our Centre, being fed well before release.
Thomas (an Olive Ridley turtle) had been found entangled in a sand bag close by to Coco Palm Resort. Despite a missing front flipper missing and a lacerated rear flipper, he made a very good recovery and was soon fit for release back into the sea.
I have also been assisting Aku and Akram, who look after the Fish Lab and the Clownfish breeding programme. The Blackfoot (Maldivian) anemonefish and Clark’s anemonefish are bred under controlled conditions, with a diet of zooplankton (which is also produced here in the lab). The objective of this programme is to develop fish breeding techniques in the Maldives, and therefore reduce the need for taking these animals directly from the wild for selling in the ornamental aquarium market. I was lucky to assist with the egg spawning and hatching process of a breeding couple of Maldivian clownfish during my stay.
Finally, I had the amazing chance to see and swim with Manta Rays … a very wonderful experience! There were more than forty mantas at Hanifaru bay, swimming all around and so close. It’s an enchanting animal, and I now have some very beautiful memories.
The Seamarc team were excellent teachers (thank you!) and everyone was very patient so I learnt very quickly.
I will always be eternally grateful for this opportunity ... A very sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart for everyone’s encouragement, hard work and dedication. My short time here has allowed me to learn so many things that otherwise might not have been possible.
The memories I have forged here will always have a special place in my heart ♡ … what a wonderful country!
Janice (Singapore) 2017
From literally stepping out of the airport and onto the resort speedboat, I was completely blown away by how amazing the Maldives is; hot sun, blue skies, and crystal-clear waters … paradise!
In my first week, I spent a lot of time learning about and working with the resident sea turtles ... Caring for these turtles has been great fun and each one has its own personality.
... we were lucky to encounter a large pod of false killer whales, which was an incredible experience!
The teams at both resorts are a fantastic group of people and I enjoyed every moment working with them all.
Mark (UK) 2016
The first week was a busy one as three new rehab turtles turned up in three consecutive days. I have also been busy with guest snorkel trips, dolphin cruises, scientific projects, coral reef monitoring and surfing world class waves at the local breaks!
I have been here for the last five wonderful weeks ... such great fun and every day is so varied ... to learn all I can about the amazing marine life in the Maldives.
Adam (UK) 2016
Each morning I caught the local 8:15 ferry boat … much better than the bus in Germany!
One day we went to a nearby uninhabited agricultural island, to collect some turtle hatchlings and release them out in the open water. Another great experience was the manta boat-trip ... for one whole day we searched for mantas in different sites around Baa Atoll.
All in all I can say that my 6 weeks’ volunteering ... was a great experience, I met a lot of nice and very friendly people and I learned a lot about turtles, fish species and corals in the beautiful tropical waters around the Maldives.
Nicole (Germany) 2016
The Marine Savers team is great fun to work with, and I couldn’t have asked for a better location to gain some experience in environmental conservation.
It was wonderful to be around so many people who share my passion for the underwater world, and I hope it’s not too long before I’m back beneath the waves in the Maldives!
Dhiya (Sri Lanka) 2016
Every day was a different adventure, with turtles to treat, corals to transplant, talks to give and dolphins to spot. It is always a thrill to (see) the juvenile Spinner dolphins, who stick very close to their mothers but are often the most acrobatic jumpers, putting the ‘spin’ in Spinner. Sometimes we were lucky to spot manta rays too.
I am very grateful to the Marine Savers team ... It has strengthened my desire to work in marine conservation and I hope to be back in the Maldives one day!
Roz (UK) 2016
You can see some breathtaking marine life here in the Maldives, and every time I’m in the water I feel constantly in awe of my surroundings ... 2 mantas at a cleaning station swam through our dive group, getting extremely close!
These activities, along with the people I have met along the way have ... made the experience so enjoyable and memorable.
Emily (UK) 2016
I had never seen a turtle this large before, which was a whole new experience for me in itself ... It took 6 people to get this amazing turtle out of the water and into the boat.
I have even started leading some of the snorkel safaris around nearby reefs, an incredibly rewarding experience to be sharing information and experiences with people. My favourite moments have often been on our dolphin cruises, the incredible spinner dolphins never cease to amaze me as they throw their bodies high above the water surface. That is certainly a sight I will never get tired of!
Sophie (UK) 2015
Taking time off work to travel all the way to the Maldives to care for sea turtles might seem a crazy idea to some; for me, however, it was the chance of a lifetime. This was the perfect opportunity to leave my office desk in the concrete jungle of Hong Kong and take part in something meaningful in a unique part of the world.
I have had a tremendous time, and have made friends with a lot of lovely people from around the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would definitely like to come back some day to visit everyone… and the sea turtles too, of course!
Keith (Hong Kong) 2015
Winy and Hazel had a very busy and enjoyable time, working with our turtle care patients and the Reefscapers coral propagation programme.
They also helped with an important reef clean-up, and had a memorable day releasing baby turtle hatchlings into the ocean.
Winy & Hazel (Hong Kong) 2015
Every day since I have arrived has been an adventure!
I am witnessing new and amazing things every day, from sunsets to 'Spanish Dancers' ! It’s a wonderful experience as we share underwater marine life encounters, and I have actually lost count of how many sharks, dolphins and turtles I’ve encountered since I arrived ... and it’s magical every time.
Cath (UK) 2015
The care and rehabilitation of the turtles here is very satisfying work.
In just a short few weeks, I have seen Spinner Dolphins, Hawksbill Turtles, Black Tip Reef Sharks and of course lots of colourful and varied marine life ... a wonderful moment each time!
Mailis (Belgium) 2015
A very enjoyable part of my job is spreading awareness to the public, to promote better understanding and appreciation for the marine ecosystem. We recently organised a school excursion ... seeing these enthusiastic children learning about the environment brings me joy and hope.
My time here has been an amazing experience ... more than just swimming with the fishes and being surrounded by beautiful reefs!
Adrelia (Singapore) 2014
Frédéric was a PhD student and lecturer at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, specialising in ecology and tropical marine biology.
During his time with us, Frédéric researched indigenous Echinoderms, and possibly discovered a previously undocumented new species of sea cucumber.
Frédéric (France) 2014
Glen worked with us in 2014, developing a shark population survey to study local populations of Blacktip Reef sharks using a variety of survey methods including underwater camera traps, and snorkel surveys.
Glen (UK) 2014
One of our first interns, Dylan (from Singapore's Temasek Polytechnic) had an amazingly unique experience with us.
Firstly, he helped with the rescue of a stranded false killer whale 'Haita' (although she sadly did not survive rehabilitation).
And then he was invited to the “Marine Mammal Stranding Symposium” (February 2013), to present our work and findings to fellow marine biologists.
Dylan (Singapore) 2012