During December, we saw a total of 12 spawns from our Maldivian Clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) breeding pairs, and a further 5 batches from our Clark’s Clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii). By the end of December we had 162 Clark’s and 536 Maldivian Clownfish juveniles.
Juvenile Maldivian Clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) being transferred between tanks
Some of our Fish Lab breeding tanks
Local school children enjoy a visit to our Marine Discovery Centre (file photo)
During the month of December, the most frequently sighted megafauna species on our various guest excursions and safaris were :
- Hawskbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
- Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
- Blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus)
- Spotted eagle rays (Aetobatus narinari)
- Nurse shark (Nebrius ferrugineus)
- Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) – pods of 50 to 100 individuals (a few calves were also spotted); very active, approaching the boat to ‘bow ride’, jumping from the water and spinning in the air.
- Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) – small pods of six to 10 individuals were sighted, but as they were showing avoidance behaviour we could only observe them for periods of approximately 10 minutes.
During one trip to Hulhudhoo, we were very lucky to see three bottlenose dolphins pass by as we were snorkelling, a rare treat to see them whilst in the water.
We have been analysing our statistics, to determine whether the number of shark sightings has started to increase in recent years (Sattar, 2014 ).
Baa Atoll used to be one of the key shark fishing atolls in the Maldives, until a 10-year ban came into effect in the atoll in 1998 due to declining populations of many species. However, enforcement of this regulation was poor and further declines were recorded (Le Berre, 2008 ).
A total ban on all shark activities (fishing, capture, killing, extraction) from Maldivian waters came into effect on 15 March 2010. Our data is currently inconclusive, but might suggest there are some signs of recovery of shark populations within Baa Atoll in recent years.
-  Overview of the Sharkwatch Programme: 2009 – 2013, Marine Research Centre, Marine Conservation Society (2014) – S.A. Sattar, E. Wood, M. Ushan, K. Ali.
-  Rapid Marine Ecological Baseline Assessment of islands of Baa Atoll. Report prepared for the Baa Atoll AEC project (2008) – T. Le Berre, E. Emanualli, C. Guignard, A. Sivad, M. Saleem, H. Zahir.