Hi everyone, my name is Dayna and I am the intern at the Marine Discovery Centre at Kuda Huraa. I am a veterinary student from the University of Edinburgh, entering my fourth year of study in 2015.
I am primarily here to carry out a research project with the hatchling turtles that are part of the Head Start Programme. My study has been looking at colour preference in Green sea turtles with the aim of identifying any colours the turtles might be more or less attracted to. To measure colour preference in the hatchlings I have been feeding them components of their regular daily diet simultaneously from a selection of four different coloured plates (red, blue, green and yellow) and monitoring their feeding and behaviour over a 10-minute trial period.
I hope that by identifying a colour preference, this information might be used globally as a means of reducing the number of wild turtles caught in fishing nets, by selecting net colours the turtles are less attracted to. My study data and results will contribute to the slowly growing pool of data we have available on sea turtles, and help in working towards a safer and more secure future for these amazing yet highly endangered creatures.
Preliminary results appear to show the turtles do indeed exhibit a colour preference in their eating habits. We are also seeing inquisitive and ‘playful’ activity, as the hatchlings choose to nestle under certain plates or nudge other plates to the surface for scratching behaviour. We hope to use this information to create “environmental enrichment devices” (EED) for all of our turtles at the Centre, to promote activity and development.
When I am not sitting on top of the hatchling pools watching them swim from colour to colour, I am usually occupied with other daily routines. For turtle rehabilitation, these include medical treatments, diet formulation, pool cleaning, data entry, taking the turtles out for their UV fix, patient monitoring and admitting new turtles. Every day throws a new challenge, and my favourite experience so far is to see the rescue turtles going from strength to strength, making the hours of daily care all the more worthwhile. I will never forget Zoe, who I have spent the last month or so caring for every day, and is now ready for release.
I’ve also been heavily involved in the surgical procedures, including the essential amputation of flippers, which have become damaged due to entanglement in drifting oceanic ghost fishing nets. This has been a valuable educational experience for me, and I have learnt a lot. I also experienced a harsh reality first hand recently, when we lost an Olive Ridley turtle. After three hours of surgery in the pouring rain, things were looking good, but sadly her poor condition upon arrival proved too much to recover from. Unfortunately, you just can’t save every patient, and while it’s always hard to lose a turtle, it does provide a unique opportunity to perform a post mortem to learn more about turtle anatomy and pathology.
There is an abundance of sea life here of course, and the excitement of seeing a batfish or a spectacular spinner dolphin never fails to excite … and I have seen manta rays for the first time! When I am not in the water, I often take a stroll around the neighbouring local island of Bodu Huraa, where the sunsets are spectacular and moonlight casts a magical glow over the ocean.
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