Lab bred Clownfish juveniles Marine Savers Maldives

Fish Lab & Marine Aquaria

The small arms of our regenerating starfish (Linckia laevigata) have grown 2-3mm over this past month, whereas the long arm continues to shrink (down by 6mm). And we now have a new starfish arm to study, which has only recently started to grow. The newly regenerated arms are currently less than 1mm in length, growing from an original 38mm arm.

The diet of our Clownfish breeding pairs has been supplemented with Mysis, a type of zooplankton that we recently collected from Voavah reef and stored in the freezer. This seems to improve laying rate, egg fertility and the survival success of the Clownfish larvae.

Our plankton production has been increased to satisfy the appetites of the adult Artemia to provide live food for our juvenile Clownfish and also the seahorses. We currently have 6 seahorses (4 male, 2 female) with the largest male having a bloated pouch. We thought he was carrying eggs, but his state has not changed for 3 months so we now suspect ‘gas bubble syndrome’, a common problem in aquarium seahorses.

In our marine Aquarium 2, we have spotted a natural coral recruit attached to some red coralline algae. It appears to be a Mushroom coral (Fungia fungites) that perhaps arrived in planula larval form via the water inflow, or maybe from spawning within the aquarium. Juvenile Fungia polyps (called acanthocauli) attach to the substrate via a stalk, which later dissolves and detaches the free-living polyp (S. Goffredo, N.E Chadwick-Furman). Rather than forming colonies like most other corals, mature Mushroom corals are solitary and remain unattached to substrates.

Seahorses - food chain infographic
Aquarium Linkia laevigata regeneration
Lab bred Clownfish juveniles Marine Savers Maldives

Above: regenerating starfish / Clark’s Clownfish
Left: food chain for our seahorses
(Photo credit: Simon).

Sea Turtle Conservation

Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation

Some of our turtle patients have been suffering from a probable viral infection, so we took two turtles for x-ray at Eydhafushi hospital, and four turtles to Coco Palm’s Olive Ridley Project for examination by resident vet Dr Claire Nerissa. Claire made x-ray and ultrasound scans, took blood/tissue samples and has recommended various treatments. The cause of the infection is probably a virus, so our turtle patients are currently ‘quarantined’ to prevent spread of the infection.

Turtle X-ray Marine Savers Maldives
Turtle X-ray Marine Savers Maldives
Turtle X-ray Marine Savers Maldives

Sea Turtle Evolution Project

We continue to record the growth of our hatchlings on a weekly basis, from admission up to their release. Twice weekly, we are taking close-up photographs of the carapace and sides of the head, to see how the transformation of the scales and scutes grows and evolves over time.
At the end of the data collection period (15-18 months), the photographic series will be morphed into an animated video using “Photomorph” software. We hope to identify the stage of development and the age of the turtle at which the scale patterns mature and no longer change significantly as they grow into adulthood. This way, if the turtles are ever photographed in future in the wild, we know they can be positively identified.
We have also started experimenting with software to automatically identify the size and shape of the scutes and take measurements as they grow.

Turtle photo-morph facial scutes evolution Marine Savers Maldives

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Programme

During January, we received 24 new photo submissions from various sites around the Maldives, enabling us to positively identify 6 new Hawksbill turtle individuals (plus 4 re-sightings) and 1 new Green turtle individual (plus 1 re-sighting). The number of positively identified individuals now totals 1,129 Hawksbills and 259 Greens.

We are currently transferring all our turtle data into the i3s software database, meaning we will be able to enter new submissions directly, eliminating the need for a preliminary manual search. As we go along, we are also validating the data and removing/merging any duplicates.

Turtle ID - Green Turtle CM186 at Medhufaru, South Male Maldives

Have you spotted a turtle ?  Send us your photos

A big THANK YOU to all our contributors. 🙂

This is an ID photo of Hawksbill turtle # EI1125, with the facial scutes (scales) clearly visible. One side of the face is sufficient to confirm a re-sighting, and we need both sides to positively identify a new individual.

Below, children learn about caring for injured turtles as part of our ‘Junior Marine Savers’ activities at Kuda Huraa.

 

Junior Marine Savers help with turtle care – child activities Maldives
Reefscapers coral frames – Kuda Huraa water villa flower site

Further News & Updates

You might also be interested in our Dolphin ID Project, and our Sea Turtle Enclosure out in the lagoon at Landaa Giraavaru.

Looking for details of our coral propagation programme ?

Head over to our Reefscapers 2019 Diary for all the latest updates. You can sponsor your own dedicated Coral Frame, and then see how it grows in the future by viewing the photo updates every 6 months, as part of our Coral Frame Collection.

Left: Reefscapers coral frames at Kuda Huraa water villas.
Right: Junior Marine Savers learn the importance of corals.

Reefscapers coral frames – Kuda Huraa water villa flower site
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