My third and final month as the Seamarc intern at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa is now complete. I cannot believe that 3 months have gone by so quickly, but what an experience this has been! (Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.)
We have released 5 more turtles in February, four Green sea turtle graduates from our Head Start Programme (Archer, Wukong, Gracie and Bella) and Ollie the Olive Ridley (rescue and rehabilitation patient). Ollie was admitted to our Centre on 15 September 2015, after her front right flipper had been caught in a drifting ghost fishing net near One & Only Reethi Raa (North Male Atoll). The bone in her flipper was still intact, but unfortunately circulation had been lost and the limb was slowly dying. After a successful amputation by our turtle biologist, the remaining stump was wrapped and treated and Ollie remained in care under careful observation.
I had arrived after Ollie, and I saw immense progress in her diving and swimming capabilities. To begin with, she would rarely dive to the bottom of our pools, but by the time her release date had been set, I would often see her resting happily on the bottom.
This month, I have also been helping guests to make coral frames, with the build-a-reef activity and Kuda Mas Kids Club drumming up lots of interest from adults and children alike. A favourite frame-making session was with a lovely family who sponsored a heart-shaped coral frame for their daughter’s birthday. They showed much enthusiasm and interest in the corals, and did an excellent job of attaching the fragments to produce a nice frame filled with bright purple and yellow Acropora humilis fragments.
Following last months’ creation of the new ‘starfish’ site, mapping, re-transplanting and monitoring of all the 109 frames has been completed. I have also finished monitoring the 90+ coral frames near the water bungalows, a particularly fun task due to the abundant fish life. I was regularly swarmed by shoals of snapper, cheeky wrasse and feisty damselfish when I was monitoring at the water bungalows. Unfortunately, Crown-of-Thorns starfish (COTS) are regularly reported at this site and so I also had to remove this voracious coral predator on occasion.
In addition to this, the mammoth task of re-transplanting our House Reef site has begun in preparation for monitoring of this site next month. Our house reef has approximately 750 frames (divided into 8 zones) and due to the large amount of COTS predation over recent weeks, many fragments and frames have suffered mortalities. Re-transplanting and replacing name and number tags at this site is a current priority for the Reefscapers coral team, in order to allow for the recovery of frames and permit more efficient monitoring next month.
My research project is continuing to show positive developments, with 55 out of the 81 fragments showing some growth. These fragments are now fully cemented to the frames and have also started laying down tissue over the cable ties used to attach them … great news!
I have also had the opportunity to go on a night snorkel safari. Using blue-light torches and special orange filters in the dark waters allowed us to see the coral fluoresce. I have always wanted to witness this phenomenon and the corals did not disappoint! The corals appear normal to the naked eye, but with an orange filter over your mask you can witness them biofluoresce with vivid green colours. This is because the filter blocks out the reflected blue light from the torches so we can see more fluorescence.
The true reason for fluorescence in corals remains unclear, although it is thought to act as a “sunscreen” for the coral, protecting the zooxanthellae inside the coral tissues from harmful sun rays. Another theory is that it is an indicator of health on the reef as only living corals will fluoresce. Despite the puzzling theories, witnessing this pretty light show has been one of the many highlights of my internship and something I would recommend for anyone to see.
Thanks for reading.
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