Hello everyone. I wanted to share with you my latest updates from the past two months. Many things have happened! [If you missed it, read my first report here.]
Let’s start with my aquaculture work at the Fish Lab; I want to thank Carla (aquariology expert at Landaa Giraavaru), for all her support and assistance. We obtained some positive results in my Clownfish breeding experiments, and I hope these will prove useful in improving the breeding protocols in the Fish Lab. Increasing the feeding of our Clownfish breeding pairs to five times a day using a modified mixture of foods (pellets, fish, fish eggs, shrimp, mussels, Selco) was seen to produce more eggs, and improved the survival rate of the hatched larvae.
My work days have also been punctuated by other activities such as caring and feeding the rescue turtles, helping with coral restoration, and guiding the guest snorkelling trips. Thanks to Audrey (turtle biologist) for all the time and patience she devoted to training me, and in such a happy and positive working atmosphere. I was also able to participate in the writing of the French translation of the flying turtle programme, to help our ‘non-releasable’ turtle residents find a new and specialised home overseas. I was able to identify four new turtles during our turtle safari outings during my three months; I am proud of having been able to help increase the turtle database of the Maldives that will someday be better able to protect these animals.
Following Carla’s initiative to work on the Baa Atoll anemone census/database gave me a real sense of achievement. Getting to know the environment around us in order to live in harmony with it makes me happy. Finally, swimming with manta rays with the Manta Trust scientists will long burn in my memory.
A total of 42 egg clutches were laid during the experimental period, 16 batches for our Maldivian Clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) breeding pairs, and 26 batches for the Clark’s Clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii). This averaged to approximately 2.5 spawns / month / breeding pair (an increase of 1.6 on previous months).
Around 6 days of egg maturation was seen before hatching, with changes in egg colouration being observed and recorded, before gradual emergence of the embryos. Interestingly, two pairs (one Maldivian, one Clark’s) started to lay eggs regularly only after we commenced this new feeding schedule.
We significantly increased the numbers and survival rates of Maldivian Clownfish juveniles (less so for Clark’s). Larval survival rates (especially for Clark’s) seemed to be improved by using zero lighting on the first day after hatching, and 84% of all the juveniles were produced this way. A reduction in development time to first-metamorphosis was seen only for the Maldivian Clownfish.
Maldivian Clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes)
- 5 days – transparent, visible skeleton/organs. No yolk sac; tail/fins are fused; black dots on lateral lines.
- 15 days – head/organs opaque; spine visible. Fins separated; black dots now form a band.
- 20 days – organs red-orange, with dots on organs and head/body. First metamorphoses.
- 25 days – white-transparent with white band; organs bright red; black dots disappeared.
- 30 days – whole body is dark orange; red organs still visible. The white band thickens.
- 40 days – body yellow-orange; orange-red border visible on fins.
Clark’s Clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii)
- 5 days – transparent, visible skeleton/organs. No yolk sac; tail/fins fused; black dots on whole body.
- 10 days – transparency attenuates; fins separated. Black dots more numerous and bigger.
- 15 days – first metamorphoses; opaque black robe streaked with two white bands.
- 20 days – metamorphoses continue; colours accentuated. Third white band at tail. Head/fins final yellow colour (juveniles now resemble parents).
- 40 days – Rear dorsal fin and top end of tail develops black border.
Egg colouration in Amphiprion clarkii and Amphiprion nigripes
I hope you enjoyed reading.
Thank you everyone, for everything.
À bientôt, Jean-Gabriel 😉
Maldivian clownfish with eggs
Clark’s clownfish with anemone
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