My name is Rosalind and I have recently completed my internship at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s Marine Discovery Centre. Every day was a different adventure, with turtles to treat, corals to transplant, talks to give and dolphins to spot. It was a pleasure to interact with guests from all over the world, give tours of the Centre, help children fill out activity booklets about marine life and introduce them to the tiny anemonefish bred in the Fish Lab.
My first job every morning was to feed and treat the turtles in the rehabilitation centre, then clean their tanks. I quickly learnt that an injured turtle is still a force to be reckoned with! It was rewarding to see the progress made whilst I was at the Centre. ‘La Petite’ arrived with serious injuries after entanglement with a ghost fishing net, and it was good to see her cuts and prolapse healing so successfully. ‘Elsa’, a turtle missing both front flippers, started diving consistently. After the flipper amputation of juvenile Green turtle ‘TG’, the wounds healed well and TG soon started diving again, to be successfully released on Christmas Day.
Hawksbill and Green turtles are the two sea turtle species we saw on snorkeling trips. When leading a Turtle Safari, turtles feeding or resting on the reef camouflage perfectly into the coral with their mottled shells and it’s quite a job to spot them. A turtle’s facial scutes are like a fingerprint, with no two turtles having the same pattern. The Maldivian Sea Turtle Project uses photos of these scutes (and the shell) to identify individual turtles throughout the Maldives.
I gave talks on cetaceans, particularly Bottlenose and Spinner dolphins, the species sighted almost every day in the waters surrounding the resort. The boat always fell silent as guests and staff concentrated on spotting an elusive dorsal fin or, once we found them, watching in awe of dolphins bow riding our dhoni or jumping high into the air. It is always a thrill to spot 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.
Guided Snorkel Adventures
Before each snorkeling trip, I gave talks on corals and the fish species that live around them. It was great to show guests a coral reef for the first time, and to help those that were not strong swimmers experience the ocean. I used each trip to improve my fish id skills and got to see puffer fish, parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, sting rays, lemon sharks, moray eels, eagle rays … and more!
The house reef was a very different place to visit after dark as many species that live on a reef are nocturnal. There was the always the challenge of finding the resting spot of the resident Hawksbill. At the end of the snorkel, all the torches were switched off and everyone waved their hands through the dark water to light it up with bioluminescence. We often saw lionfish, sleeping pufferfish, the Maldivian sponge snail, imperial sea urchins, lemon sharks, a Blotched Fantail ray, scorpion fish and Giant moray eels.
Marine Education & Awareness
The International Shark and Ray Conservation Symposium took place in the resort while I was there and it was enlightening to watch presentations by the world’s leading shark researchers. I was also given the opportunity to proof-read the textbook for the Manta Trust’s new Baa Atoll Marine Education Program. The programme is starting to teach schoolchildren on the local island of Kamadhoo about the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Baa Atoll, coral reefs, sharks, turtles, manta rays and waste management. The Manta Trust kindly invited me on a trip on their research boat to see manta rays; seeing these intelligent creatures barrel-rolling just inches from your face is a unique experience.
As part of the coral propagation project, I helped attach coral fragments to frames, transport frames to their site and replace dead coral fragments. It was amazing to see the diversity of fish that use the frames as shelter or a food source, and to see 4-year old frames completely covered in healthy colourful corals.
Days Off and Free Time
Meeting staff, interns and volunteers at the resort, who come from 40 different countries, was one of the highlights of my internship. It has been a pleasure learning some Dhivehi, the language of the Maldives, and hearing about life in an island nation. I got to go to an Indian ‘stag do’, celebrate Diwali, learn some Bollywood dancing from my roommate, celebrate Thanksgiving, play in the staff volleyball tournament and celebrate the Nepalese festival of Dashain.
There was never a dull moment on Landaa. I enjoyed star-gazing, got chased by triggerfish, ate at the gourmet restaurants, went on night dives, passed my PADI Enriched Air qualification, tried antigravity yoga, went to outdoor movie nights and tried kitesurfing and stand-up paddle-boarding. I also saved up three of my days off to explore Rasdhoo Atoll, where I was able to go diving on wrecks and see stunning reefs with schools of eagle rays and white tip and black tip reef sharks.
Whale sharks were top of my ocean bucket list. I had never seen a whale shark before and the Maldives is one of the few places in the world you can encounter them. With that in mind, I visited the island of Dhigurah in South Ari Atoll, where the Maldives Whale Shark Research Project is based. I was ecstatic to snorkel with 6 whale sharks and to see my first manta ray. The researchers showed me how to take ID photos of the spot pattern behind their gills. Analysing photos helps to identify individual sharks, many of which are regular visitors. I love that they use software initially developed by NASA to distinguish between star constellations and now adapted for whale sharks. From deep space to the deep blue!
I am very grateful to the Marine Savers team and everyone at Seamarc and Four Seasons for having me as an intern. I learnt so much about turtle rehabilitation, coral propagation, manta rays and identifying many species of Maldivian marine life. It has strengthened my desire to work in marine conservation and I hope to be back in the Maldives one day!
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
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