A rare phenomenon occurred in our Touch Pool recently – our Dark Green Sea Cucumber (Stichopus cloronotus) split itself down the centre and divided into two! Sea cucumbers normally breed ‘sexually’, via the release of eggs and sperm into open water, but this requires a large population to be successful. According to Frederic Ducarme (our sea cucumber specialist), a sea cucumber can divide ‘asexually’ in less-than-ideal conditions (perhaps in the cooler water in our air-conditioned Centre).
On 8 March, we had the pleasure of welcoming a second visit from Ungoofaaru School. The students had the usual tour of our Centre, including our Marine Awareness presentation, Manta Ray presentation, Fish Lab Tour, Turtle Rehabilitation Tour and Coral Frame Building. It was an enjoyable day for both students and staff, and a great opportunity to reach out to local communities and to help educate them about the marine environment of the Maldives. We are expecting more school visits over the coming months.
Some of our recent megafauna sightings include:
- Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus), Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), Sicklefin Lemon Shark (Negaprion acutidens)
- Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
- Mangrove Whipray (Himantura granulate), Spotted Eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari)
- Short-fin Pygmy Mobula ray (Mobula kuhlii), Blotched Fantail ray (Taeniura meyeni)
- Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum)
- Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), Pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus)
- Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates), Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus) – quite rare in the Maldives
- Night snorkels – the usual fauna such as lionfish, moray eels, squid, octopus, urchins, along with our resident wild Hawksbill turtle who is almost always seen wedged under a coral ledge.
Snorkel safari – the incredible abundance of marine life on a nearby reef
Sea Turtle Conservation
On 23 March we sadly found a deceased juvenile Olive Ridley sea turtle. The 30cm turtle was entangled in a net, which was most likely the cause of death, however, we could not perform a necropsy due to the advanced stage of decomposition.
We currently have seven sea turtles in the Head Start Programme: three Hawksbills and four Green turtles. A further three of our juvenile green sea turtles were successfully released during March.
Lalu (CM.100) was admitted to the Head Start Programme in March 2015 at less than a week old. Over 48 weeks, Lalu grew from 5.7cm to 30.2cm and gained an impressive 5.5kg in weight.
Tommy (CM.085) and MyLove (CM.094) both hatched on 2 February 2015 and reached the release size of 30cm in 55 and 50 weeks respectively.
Tommy (CM.085) Green Sea Turtle after arrival at our Head Start programme