Our Marine Aquaria

In Aquarium 1, our two Pistol shrimps (Alpheidae sp.) excavated the sand from beneath the rocks, causing instability in the structure. So, we returned the shrimps to the ocean, and we are currently undergoing a redesign:

  • a small colony of Galaxea fascicularis fluoresces neon green and makes a nice addition;
  • a new dome-shaped Mushroom coral (Fungia) has extended tentacles to feed throughout the day;
  • a starfish (Linckia laevigata) with a very small body and one long arm is showing noticeable signs of regeneration.
  • the mini-frame coral fragments (transplanted two months ago) are showing signs of encrusting and fusing.

Aquarium 2 suffered from excess air entering via the inflow. With many tiny bubbles accumulating under rocks and in the water column, one Domino Humbug suffered from bubble eye syndrome (so we immediately released it, for a natural recovery back in the wild).

Recent additions to this tank have been collected near the reef crest:

  • Brain coral (Platygyra);
  • small Giant clam (Tridacna gigas) showing off its blue-purple coloured tissue;
  • small colony of Sun coral (Tubastrea coccinea) – an azooxanthellate, and thus needs to capture its own food (we have so far not seen the tentacles extended, so we will try other foods).

A leftover fragmented colony of Acropora digitifera with large areas of exposed skeleton will be monitored, to see how it heals and recolonises over time. The larger Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) has claimed the anemone, and will actively chase off the smaller one if it gets too close. The smaller Clark’s has claimed the mushroom coral, and is frequently seen swimming around and retreating to it.

Aquarium 1 Marine Savers Maldives

Aquarium 1

Aquarium 1 - starfish (linckia laevigata) regenerating Marine Savers Maldives

Starfish (Linckia laevigata) regenerating

Aquarium 2 Marine Savers Maldives

Aquarium 2

This month, we decided it was time to refurbish our Large Aquarium, its first major project since our complete rebuild last year. We started by removing a few species of corals and returning them to the lagoon, including Favites halicora (hard coral) and Heliopora coreulea (soft coral). In total, we replaced more than half of the aquarium rocks, to create a more open style, dotted with cavities that allow better water circulation and create hiding places for fish.

We are now prominently featuring Goniopora coral species (bright green and red morphs) and live rocks encrusted with young coral colonies (that we hope will spread). We also have Xenia and Zoanthids soft corals (kindly donated by aquarist Hassan Jinah).

  • ‘Pulsing Xenia’ (Xenia elongata) is a unique soft coral, with polyps that open and close in an attractive pulsing motion (hence their popularity in marine aquaria worldwide). However, they can spread invasively across the rockwork, so we will be keeping a close eye on the new growth.
  • Zoanthid corals (called ‘zoas’ by aquarium hobbyists) are also popular amongst aquarists because of their striking fluorescent colours. Out of the three common genera – Zoanthus, Palythoa and Protopalythoa – we received specimens of the first two, that were very carefully handled as they contain ‘Palytoxin’.
Fishlab - juvenile Clownfish Marine Savers Maldives

Clownfish juveniles

Fishlab - apprentices Marine Savers Maldives

Apprentices Asjadh and Raadif working in the Fish Lab’s plankton production room

Fishlab - aquarium refit Marine Savers Maldives

Refurbing our large marine aquarium

Marine Discovery Centres

Clownfish
Our Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) breeding pair #21 continues to produce healthy larvae this month, giving a total of 75 juveniles (the 20 juveniles from last month have now graduated to our main public tanks).

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Programme
During August, we received over 40 photo submissions to our turtle ID programme, resulting in six re-sightings of existing turtles in our database.

Dolphin ID
During August, we recorded 830 Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostri) around Kuda Huraa, plus 250 Spinners and 33 Bottlenose dolphins at Landaa Giraavaru. This resulted in six Spinners and five Bottlenose being uniquely identified and newly added to our database, plus possible re-sightings of a further 12 individuals.

Turtle ID Marine Savers Maldives
Dolphin ID SL103 (Scissor) Marine Savers Maldives

Apprenticeship Programme and Community Outreach

Our 2018 Four Seasons Apprentices are currently hands-on, learning aquaculture in our Fish Lab. We start with lessons on the biology of fish reproduction and development, and go on to cover plankton production (to grow the foods for our fish).

Globally, tropical fish aquaria become more popular with each passing decade, but thankfully, this increasing demand seems to be met by the ever-expanding aquaculture trade (meaning wild reefs globally are not being increasingly plundered). A similar thing has been seen in the food industry, with fish-farming meeting much of the needs of the world’s increased appetite.

Hopefully, the young Maldivian students of today will grow into the marine biologists of tomorrow, and continue to work at finding sustainable solutions that minimise the exploitation of the complex marine environment upon which small island communities depend.

Outreach – school education visit – Marine Savers Maldives (4)
Outreach – Kamadhoo school education visit – Marine Savers Maldives (4)
Shark dissection with Kamadhoo school
Junior Marine Savers at Kuda Huraa [KH 2017.12]

This month, we were delighted to welcome groups of enthusiastic students and teachers from nearby local schools across Baa Atoll. Everyone enjoyed a resort tour, followed by a presentation from our Manta Trust colleagues, before transplanting a new Reefscapers coral frame. If you would like to arrange a ‘Marine Discovery Immersion Tour’ for your school, college or NGO at either Kuda Huraa (N.Malé Atoll) or Landaa Giraavaru (Baa Atoll) – then do get in touch with us!

Reefscapers Coral Propagation

Interested in corals ? Be sure to stay up to date with our coral propagation project by reading our monthly Reefscapers Diary !

Reefscapers coral frames retransplanting Kuda Huraa Maldives
Reefscapers Coral frames [08-Dec-17] (FB3) 960×720
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