Hello everyone!

My name is Irene and I am the new Seamarc intern at the MDC (Marine Discovery Centre) at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa in the Maldives.

I am 25 years old and have recently graduated in Veterinary Medicine from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain). After finishing my studies, I was really looking forward to specialising in marine animals as well as in environmental issues related to marine biology. With this internship, I have the perfect opportunity to fulfil this dream of mine.

My first month working at the MDC has passed so fast ! I am thoroughly enjoying my time here as my daily tasks are so varied and interesting –

  • helping to recycle coral frames,
  • presenting and conducting marine awareness talks (improving my English, and learning lots of interesting facts along the way!),
  • guiding snorkel expeditions for the guests,
  • helping treat injured turtles with my veterinarian skills (administering injections, and even performing a necropsy on a turtle patient that sadly died).

We have an interesting Reefscapers project, to propagate coral reefs around the island of Kuda Huraa. Understanding the reasons why many coral species were adversely affected by the 2016 coral beaching event makes me realise just how essential these conservation programmes are, and motivates me to understand these issues more deeply. As a Marine Savers intern, I help the coral biologist two days per week to collect coral fragments from the reef, make new coral frames, and then place them around the island at the Channel and House Reef sites.

Me in the shallow lagoon, working on a Reefscapers coral frame

Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation

Villingili, a Hawksbill sea turtle, arrived at our Rescue Centre in October 2016 after being found stranded on a beach, exhibiting lethargic behaviour, involuntary movements, shallow breathing and slow reflexes (indicating an obvious poor state of health). Initially, the team gave her subcutaneous fluids because she could not eat fish on her own.

After approximately two months, the team started feeding her via an oral tube, resulting in some noticeable improvements in her health. The next step was to make Villingili interested in fish being offered, and I am so pleased to have witnessed this improvement that I must share this experience with you. From the day she started to accept and swallow some pieces of lobster, we have been seeing small improvements; for example, starting to dive and to rest at the bottom of the pool. She has also showed more interest in food and been more responsive when we scratch her carapace.

All these successes have made me feel such joy for this Hawksbill sea turtle, and we hope she continues to become healthy enough for release back into the wild.

Dash, a Green sea turtle, had arrived at our Centre as a tiny 20g hatchling way back in December 2015, so it was a great experience for me to see him released into the ocean having grown to 30cm in length and 4kg in weight!

Although it is always difficult to choose a favourite sea turtle, Dash was one of the funniest animals in our centre. He was so friendly that every time a member of our staff tried to scratch his carapace, he ended up twisting from side to side and moving forward and backward, like a funny dance ritual! Remembering this, I could not help feeling extremely happy as he swam away from us into the deep blue ocean upon his release. The picture of a wild animal swimming happily out to sea is certainly the nicest sight that anyone can experience and is difficult to forget!

Injured and sick turtles are rescued from the ocean and admitted to our Centre. We feed them and treat any wounds as they recover in our rehabilitation pools.

Even My Off-Days Are Fun !

I really feel so lucky to be living this tremendous experience. Apart from enjoying my every working day, even my off-days are great fun too ! The ‘Tropicsurf’ guys have been helping improve my surfing technique, and I am finally able to perform a proper take off and enjoy the ‘Sultans’, the typical Maldivian wave.

Last but not least, I want to mention the lovely team at Marine Savers Kuda Huraa; it is wonderful to share my marine passions and experiences with this friendly crew, and without them my internship just wouldn’t be the same!
I hope you enjoyed my monthly report, and I look forward to sharing my new marine adventures with you next month in chapter 2 !

Adiós
Irene xx

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