After spending several months with the Marine Savers team at Landaa Giraavaru, I can say for sure it was one of the best experiences of my life! I was able to help with the variety of different projects at the Marine Discovery Centre, and had the pleasure of working with an amazing team of dedicated biologists. One thing I really liked about my internship was being able to work independently and to have a lot of responsibility from the beginning. Very soon, I was guiding guest excursions, and it was very enjoyable to show them the beautiful reefs around Landaa. It was great to see guests engage in and care about the conservation of our reefs and its inhabitants.
Caring for the turtle residents, feeding them, and carrying out maintenance work on their pools was one of my main tasks. I quickly learned that every turtle has its own personality and food preferences. It was great to learn how to treat injured turtles – wound debriding, applying antibacterial creams, and giving antibiotic injections. A weekly Spa treatment, scrubbing algae from the carapaces, was also part of the turtle programme!
Three new turtle patients were admitted to the rehab centre during my stay, and kept me busy with their medical treatments and pampering. I also had the exciting task of picking up an injured sea turtle hatchling that had been found left behind in its nest in Finolhu Resort. It was interesting to follow the progress of Faaz (a juvenile Olive Ridley turtle), as his condition improved a lot within the few weeks I spent with him. The little turtle had been found entangled in a piece of net at Blue Beach, with lacerations on his swollen neck and front flipper. His wounds were healing amazingly well, and hopefully he will be released soon. The work with the turtles was definitely very rewarding; I couldn’t wait to see their cute faces every morning!
During my time at the Marine Discovery Centre, two turtles – Chip and Ummeedhu (an adult male and a sub-adult female Olive Ridley turtle) – were also released. I cared for Ummeedhu from the first day I arrived at Landaa; she was not an easy patient, and taking her weight and size measurements was quite a challenge as she regained her strength. For sure I will never forget the moment when I sat her down on the beach and she instantly made her way into the turquoise waters and disappeared beneath the waves. It is fantastic to see our hard work pay off when a healthy turtle is finally released back into the ocean.
Additionally, I spent a lot of my time working on Cetacean ID – a project aiming to identify Spinner and Bottlenose dolphins using identification photos of their dorsal fins. The outline of the dorsal fin is individual to each dolphin. I was in charge of starting a completely new database (which involved going through a lot of old photos and excluding low quality ones) and added quite a few new individuals to it. We now have 31 Spinner dolphins and 11 Bottlenose dolphins in our database.
The best part of it was of course going on the dolphin cruise and taking ID photographs! I had some truly mesmerising encounters with a pod of over 50 Spinner dolphins, with perfectly calm conditions and the Spinners showing off their whole range of acrobatics – jumping, spinning and bow-riding. Back in the office, I compared the new ID shots to the database using our identification software, and it was always great to see the new fins of previously unidentified individuals.
Fish lab sessions with Carla and Aku were always informative and a lot of fun. From measuring juvenile clownfish to health assessments of larvae under the microscope – I have definitely learned a lot! I was impressed to see the cultivation of algae, rotifers and Artemia in the lab – basically a whole food chain has to be created to feed the hungry clownfish larvae. Right at the start of my internship, we went out to collect wild anemones for the anemone project. I learned how to carefully remove and handle anemones, and was shown how to bisect this animal to create two individuals. A very exciting day was when we found a lobster carrying eggs! Soon after, thousands of eggs hatched in the blue outdoor tank and we could observe the larvae under the microscope.
I also had the chance to assist the Reefscapers team Sara and Monty with their remarkable work. At this point, there are over 3200 coral frames around Landaa Giraavaru! We recycled old coral frames (removing dead colonies and replacing them with new ones) and moved newly transplanted frames from shallow water to the final site, as well as relocating shallow water frames to deeper sites during the bleaching months. Carefully selecting and fragmenting donor colonies during snorkels and dives was also an important skill I learned during the fieldwork. I also helped to prepare sponsored frames with the guests. If guests decide to sponsor a frame, we prepare the coral fragments and equip the frame with cable ties, so the guests can help us fix the coral and move the new frame into the lagoon.
In my free time, I had the privilege to join the Manta Trust team on their research boat and on several guest excursions in search of manta rays. I helped them take ID shots of the underside of these gentle giants and got a glimpse of their daily work. One of the best moments was observing four mantas at a cleaning station, with two small males eagerly following a large, pregnant female. We also encountered a huge number of feeding manta rays, which was absolutely breathtaking. Watching the magical ballet of chains of feeding and barrel-rolling mantas is something I will surely never forget!
I want to thank the fantastic team at the Marine Discovery Centre for this incredible opportunity and this amazing time working together. I will miss paradise and all of you … a lot! ♡
All the best
Release day for a rehabilitated turtle (Top left)
Coral fragment close-up on a Reefscapers frame (Bottom left)
Treating our turtle patients (Above)
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