Hey everyone! I’m Lotte, 23 years old from Germany, and the latest marine biology intern at Landaa Giraavaru.
Currently, I am in a gap year between my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and trying to gain as much working experience as possible during this time. I am already in the final weeks of my internship and I cannot believe how fast time has passed by! I have learnt so much in the past months, made amazing friends and experienced living in a foreign culture and a beautiful environment.
Basically, there are three main projects in Landaa: the turtle rehabilitation, coral propagation and the fish lab work associated with the anemone fish breeding. Additionally, the work includes a lot of guest interaction, for example tours of the Marine Discovery Centre, building coral frames or feeding the turtles with the guests.
Every other day I go on a guest excursion, either a snorkel or a dolphin cruise. I give a small presentation on the topic beforehand, and then we go out to different sites depending on what the guests want to see. Even though the reefs are currently suffering due to elevated ocean temperatures, the marine wildlife is incredible! There wasn’t one snorkel where I didn’t see at least one sea turtle and often we could also spot rays and sharks. In addition, the sight of 100 Spinner dolphins including their calves jumping and spinning around your boat is simply amazing!
I have been able to work across all the different projects, which created a very diverse working routine. I built coral frames with Simon and Gaetan, moving and monitoring them underwater whilst free diving or scuba diving; helped Emily with the cultivation and rearing of the rotifers, artemia and jellyfish juveniles in the fish lab and also assisted with the cleaning of the tanks and feeding of the anemone fish.
Mostly, I have been working with Jasmine to support the turtles. This work includes feeding, netting and deep-cleaning the pools, and administering medical treatments and injections to the turtles. I’ve also been involved in the logistics of the turtle transfers and visits to the vet, the admission of new sea turtles, taking the turtles out for ocean swims, the release of our long-term patient, Indie, and even the release of some lost hatchlings, found on a sandbank. With Simon’s help, I built some environmental enrichment tools for the turtles so they could practise their diving and also overcome a simple challenge when feeding, in contrast to being hand-fed every day. All this work has been extremely interesting and rewarding for me.
As most of our rescued Olive Ridley turtle patients are classified as “unreleasable” due to flipper amputations (and buoyancy syndrome), I made it a personal endeavor to help revive the famous ‘Flying Turtles’ program. In the past, turtles that would not be able to survive if released back into the ocean were sent to aquariums to increase their life quality by living in a larger tank alongside other species. Together with Jasmine, we found potential homes for three of our “unreleasable” turtles! As the whole process of getting the required documents and sending the turtles away will take quite a while, I unfortunately won’t be here to witness this. But I am definitely planning on paying them a visit once they have arrived in Europe so fingers crossed!
In my spare time, I have enjoyed free-diving, paddle-boarding and have even started playing football. One of my most amazing experiences was joining the Manta Trust research boat and swimming with 50 Mantas in Hanifaru Bay. This experience was just breathtaking and probably my best ever moment in the water.