Our Marine Aquaria

Aquarium 1 had problems with the inflow pipe, causing bubbles to form under rocks and in the water column, which can be toxic to fish. We used clove oil as a natural anaesthetic to immobilise the fish for handling, and removed amongst others the large Humbug damsel fish (Dascyllus aruanus), which we returned to the ocean as it was overly aggressive. We later added some new Dragonet fish (Synchiropus sp.) and Sixspot gobies (Valenciennea sexguttata) to both our aquaria.

Aquarium 1 Marine Savers Maldives

Dragonet fish (Synchiropus)

Aquarium 2 Marine Savers Maldives

Aquarium 2

We lost three pumps during September due to an electrical malfunction, so we are closely monitoring conditions inside our large marine aquarium until we receive the new pumps (the remaining two pumps are barely sufficient to circulate 4000L).

We recently added three new soft coral colonies (Zoanthids) and some Orange Sun Coral (Tubastraea faulkneri), and we also welcomed two cleaner shrimps to act as … spa therapists! In the wild, the cleaner shrimp attract fish by waving their bright white coloured antennae and maxillipeds.

Large marine aquarium Marine Savers Maldives (10) – Lismata amboinensis

Clownfish Breeding

From our breeding pairs, we produced 50 new Maldivian Blackfoot Clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) juveniles this month, and these have been moved to the public viewing area along with the batch of 75 juveniles from last month. Our Clark’s Clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) fared less well (just 7 juveniles) and we only have a single breeding pair that is currently laying.

As part of their marine biology classes, our six apprentices from the Four Seasons training programme have to work on a scientific project. Asjadh and Saaniu are researching suitable methods to release captive-bred fish into the wild by trying two different approaches:

  • Fish/anemone system (compatibility between a wild anemone and captive bred fish). During previous experiments last year, we released Clark’s Clownfish inside a Ritteri anemone (Heteractis magnifica). This time, we released our Blackfoot Clownfish into a Ritteri, and released the Clark’s into a Merten’s carpet anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii).
  • Anemone/reef system (anemone location). Previous attempts at creating an anemone garden used a sandy location, so this time we are trying a rocky area. We have relocated two wild anemones near Al Barakat reef, covered with a protective cage to keep them from moving.
Releasing captive-bred clownfish – after release

Marine Discovery Centres

Dolphins

September was a good month for cetacean sightings, with encounters lasting 10-50 minutes and comprising:

  • 2000 Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostri) in pods of 10-300, usually with calves,
  • 22 Bottlenose Dolphins (1-10 individuals),
  • 50 Pilot Whales.

34 new Spinner dolphins were successfully identified as unique individuals due to their characteristic fin shapes.
We also have successfully re-sighted over 40 individuals, including:

  • ‘Becky’ (SL079) – re-sighted three times in the past month, and
  • ‘Snow’ [SL117] – multiple re-sightings, and easy to ID due to a condition called leucism, the loss of skin pigmentation. (Not to be confused with albinism, the complete absence of pigmentation causing white skin and pink/red eyes).
Dolphin 'Snow' with leucism Marine Savers Maldives

Dolphin ‘Snow’ with leucism

Dolphin ‘Snow’ with leucism Marine Savers Maldives [KH 2018.09] (2)

Dolphin ‘Snow’ with leucism

Turtle Nest Protection – Landaa

  • #1 nest laid at Villa-200 on 21 September (hatching due 15-20 November).
  • #2 nest laid at Villa-210 on 29 September (hatching due 23-28 November).

Turtle Nest Protection – Hanifaru island

  • #1 nest, laid: date unknown.
  • #2 nest, laid: 31 July 2018; hatching due 25-29 September. Protected by a cage.
  • #3 nest, laid: date unknown (found 15 September). Hatching due approximately 9-14 November.
  • #4 nest laid: 19 September; hatching due 13-18 November.

All the hatchlings that emerge during the evening will be released from the beach; any daytime hatchlings will be collected up and released outside the atoll (away from predators) for better chances of survival. If any baby turtles are seen to have malformations or are very weak, they will be brought to our hatchling-rearing centre at Kuda Huraa, to be hand-reared until fit and strong.

Turtle-Nest-1 (laid 21 Sept, V200) Landaa Giraavaru Maldives (1)

Turtle Nest 1 (laid 21 Sept, V200) at Landaa Giraavaru

Turtle-Nest-2 (laid 29 Sept, V210) Landaa Giraavaru Maldives (2)

Turtle Nest 2 (laid 29 Sept, V210) Landaa Giraavaru

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Programme

During September we received over 50 submissions to our turtle ID programme. These resulted in the positive identification of 5 new individuals, plus a further 10 good quality re-sightings of existing turtles in our database. Send us your photos !

Turtle ID - Hawksbill Turtle EI0825 at Makunadhoo

Wild Hawksbill Turtle EI0825 at Makunadhoo

'Head Start' turtle hatchling

‘Head Start’ turtle hatchling

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