Hi everybody! My name is Sophie and I am the new marine biology intern for Seamarc at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa. I will be here until Christmas, plenty of time for me to learn all about the beautiful islands of the Maldives and the wildlife they are home to. Here’s to taking you along for the ride!

I completed my undergraduate degree in Zoology at Hull University in the summer of 2015 and was counting down the days until my departure. Having visited here in the past as a guest, I was ecstatic to be offered such an amazing opportunity to work here for three months.

Since arriving, I have learnt something new every day and the adventure never stops. I was first introduced to the turtles here in the Marine Discovery Centre. The 12 green turtles reared from birth as part of the Head Start Programme are doing incredibly well on their varied diets, and are well on their way to reaching their target size to be released into the ocean. The large rescue and rehabilitation Olive Ridley turtles ‘Ollie’ and ‘Lylah’ are much harder to please, and require a bit more patience before they start tucking in to their favourite gourmet meal of lobster heads.

The other rescue turtles enjoy the full varied diet available to them, including reef fish and any jellyfish that wash up on our beaches. Prior to my arrival, ‘Ollie’ had to undergo an amputation on the front left flipper due to extensive damage caused by entanglement in drifting ghost fishing nets. As a result, extra care and attention is given to her treatment, with daily bandage changes and soothing honey applied to aid the healing wound. It has been a very unusual experience – I never imagined that I would be administering medication and injections to sea turtles! Just another day in the life here at the Marine Discovery Centre!

The timing of my arrival was perfect, as within my first few days I was able to assist in the release of one of our resident green turtles, ‘Eskimo’. As a slow developer, he had been preparing for this day of ocean freedom for over two years. On 26 September 2015, the day had finally come. We travelled by boat to Velaa Faru, a lovely natural coral reef perfect for a young green turtle. It was amazing to see how comfortable he looked when lowered into the ocean, and from there his adventure began, diving to the base of the reef and already searching for food. He will certainly be missed by the team here, but these are the results we love to see!

My first weekend on site was certainly busy for the marine biologists here at Kuda Huraa, with two new turtles in need of rescue. One of these was a 150kg male green turtle, who was unresponsively floating in the channel near the resort. Spotted by snorkelers earlier that morning, a rescue attempt was immediately put into action. It took 6 people to get this amazing turtle out of the water and into the boat, and we needed to get him back to the resort as soon as possible as he wasn’t showing promising signs to fight for life. I had never seen a turtle this large before, which was a whole new experience for me in itself.

Unfortunately, this large male did not survive his ordeal, which was very upsetting to the whole team who had worked so hard to try and save another life. These experiences have shown me how important it is to protect and be responsible for these often helpless animals.

We also have two new and certainly unexpected arrivals … baby fruit bats! ‘Freddy’ and ‘Robin’ were found by guests after becoming separated from their mothers. Since then, they have become very popular and charismatic residents of the centre.

At only 10cm long they are hard not to fall in love with, and they enjoy nothing more than to snuggle up in a towel and nap after eating enormous servings of banana! Young bats tend to have a very low survival rate without the presence of their mother as they heavily rely on them for suckling, protection and food. Freddy, the more confident of the two, was placed back in the tree she was found in, 10m up, in the hopes that her mother would hear her cry and come for her. Unfortunately she had become quite used to human contact and provision so was not successfully taken despite an attempt by one adult individual. A few days later she was back with the team and is thriving.

UPDATE

Robin, the more timid of the two, was returned to the trees and successfully accepted by the resident adults. Freddy (now renamed Betty!) remains an office favourite, with her outgoing and inquisitive nature. These last few weeks, we have tried to encourage her to explore the trees and find her own food. We have seen huge progress in her strength and she has now started to learn how to fly.

I have always loved talking to people, and being a part of the guest excursions is a very enjoyable part of the job. 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. To see the same excitement in them when we encounter amazing species, big and small, that are so unique to the Maldives. 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!

Hands-on care with all the animals is one of a kind, and I am forever in awe. I am hoping that next month I will further my understanding of Kuda Huraa’s very successful coral propagation programme which aims to rebuild and diversify the reefs around the island.

Sophie

Do you want to experience life as a marine biologist
here in the Maldives ?

Head over to our Employment page to read about the different ways you can work with us - full time, apprentice, intern or volunteer. And see more from our Interns and Volunteers in their very own words & photos as part of our Diary / Blog series.

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

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

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

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

All of the experiences have allowed me to make many new friends and gain knowledge and memories that will never be forgotten.
Thank you to everyone for making my time here so enjoyable!

Beth (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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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 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

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