Fish Lab & Marine Aquaria

Fish Lab Population

In our large marine aquarium at Landaa, we currently have specimens representing 45 different marine species from 18 different families, totalling 70 residents including crustaceans, echinoderms and anemones.

The soft corals are in good health, and new fragments are encrusting and growing at a good rate. Our mini-coral frames and the colonies of Tubastraea are healthy and growing well, and continue to provoke plenty of interested questioning from our visitors. However, some species of hard corals are suffering from Asterina sea star predation, which seem to have entered the aquarium via the direct seawater inlet. We are looking at introducing some natural predators (wrasse and cleaner shrimp) to limit their numbers.

In our marine aquaria at Kuda Huraa during September, the mature Maldivian anemonefish (Amphiprion nigripes) laid 3 batches of eggs, and the Clark’s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) laid 2 egg batches. All the eggs disappeared after a few days (possibly eaten) but it’s a good sign that we have established the correct environmental conditions in the aquarium to trigger reproductive behaviours.

Kreisel Jellyfish Tank

Our Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) continue to grow in size, which is a good indication of their health. There is a single anomalously large individual that has increased in bell diameter from 15cm to 18cm during the last month! We currently have 18 jellies featured in our main Kreisel display aquarium, and a further 13 individuals are being grown-on in the Fish Lab’s smaller Kreisel tank.

Linckia Starfish Regeneration

Our large Linckia multifora starfish (the original “disc-parent”) has recently showed a substantial amount of growth in the regenerating arm (5mm), perhaps due to an abundance of algae on the tank walls.
By contrast, the small Linckia (the self-amputated/autotomised arm) has been growing only 1mm/month on each of its regenerated arms.

Consistent growth of both sea star specimens indicates that food sources (bacterial surface films in the tank) are stable for healthy growth (Rideout 1978). A new unidentified sea star specimen has been found, and is currently in its “comet phase” form (so likely belonging to the Linckia genus). We hypothesise that this sea star will also start to reproduce asexually, by shedding its longest arm to form an autotomised arm and new comet phase.

Linckia Starfish regeneration from dismembered arm

Linckia “disc parent” arm regeneration

Linckia Starfish regeneration from single autotomised arm

Regeneration from autotomised arm

Linckia Starfish regeneration from dismembered arm (new specimen - comet phase)

new Linckia specimen – comet phase

Our Apprentices and Reefscapers Volunteers

Four Seasons Apprenticeship Program

Our revised and expanded marine biology classes are proving popular with this year’s Four Seasons apprentices. We hold a 2-hour class each Saturday, with the first semester divided into 10 modules (invertebrates, fish, Cetaceans and sea turtles). Recent classes have covered bony fish, cartilaginous fish and a practical fish dissection lesson.

Introducing some of our apprentices: Zidhan, Mode, Fauzan, Ziyan, Irekey and Yaniu. As marine biology students, they will cover 20 modules ranging from marine mega fauna to invertebrates, to understanding the workings of the ocean through ecosystem and biology modules.

The programme grants hands on practical experience, shadowing the marine biologists of the MDC in the coral propagation programme, turtle rehabilitation, and fish lab, with academic sessions held every week to cover the theory. This gives a rare insight to the inner workings of a renowned marine biology centre, which will enable them to continue protecting and repairing the worlds biggest and most valuable resource.

Marine biology apprenticeship at Four Seasons Maldives
Marine biology apprenticeship at Four Seasons Maldives

REEFSCAPERS Volunteers Maldives – Coral Propagation Work

Our 3-month Reefscapers Volunteer Program to ramp up our coral restoration efforts has been so successful that we have completely  exhausted our stocks of cable ties at Landaa!  😊

  • Replanting work was completed inside the Jetty area (200 frames) and is continuing at the Dive site.
  • 500 recently recycled frames (August) were monitored and photographed at the Al Barakat, Parrot Reef and Dive sites.
  • 280 frames have been relocated around the island for increased resilience to bleaching, and moved from shallow (1-2m depth) to deeper sites (6-9m). At the Dive Site, 500 extra frames have been cleaned, making them ready for transplanting as soon as the cable ties become available next month.
  • To date, a total of 1434 frames have been successfully replanted with corals, mainly those that had died during the devastating 2016 global coral bleaching event.

Head over to our Reefscapers 2019 Diary for all the latest updates.

Reefscapers coral reef propagation Maldives relocating frames by Volunteers
Reefscapers coral reef propagation Maldives replanting by Volunteers

Our two Reefscapers volunteers at Kuda Huraa, Sorin and Martyna, arrived early September. They have been gradually trained in coral collection and transplantation protocols, including frame cleaning, frame recoating, and general field material maintenance. They have both been hard at work and have done many of their duties independently, fulfilling September’s goal of volunteer training. Sorin and Martyna will also be able to help train any additional volunteers we add in the upcoming months.

Sea Turtle Conservation

Flying Turtles

As part of our ‘Flying Turtles’ project, we are trying to find permanent overseas homes for 3 of our unreleasable Olive Ridley turtles that have been in our care for more than 1 year (Taco, Frisbee and Chomper). All of them are missing at least 2 flippers (from entanglement in ghost nets) which means their ability to survive in the ocean is permanently compromised.

We have been in regular contact with an aquarium in the UK, who wish to provide a permanent home for our adult male Olive Ridley turtle, Frisbee. We are also in regular discussions with an aquarium in South Africa. They are interested in giving permanent homes to 2 of our unreleasable turtles and are liaising with their national Department of Environmental Affairs CITES office.

We are currently waiting for specialised blood-testing equipment to arrive, before we can take the blood samples of the turtles to ensure their health and suitability before starting off on their journeys.

PEGGY’s EPIC JOURNEY! 2014 MV ⇄ EU 2019

Read how Peggy returned from Belgium to be released back into the wild here in the Maldives! And follow her journey on our updated interactive map, as she enjoys her freedom once again, swimming out of the Maldivian atolls, over to Sri Lanka and on to the coastline of India (where we think she might be nesting, near Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary).

Maldives Sea Turtle ID Project

Turtle photographs are kindly sent to us from members of the public and from fellow marine biologists stationed at other resorts around the Maldives. Submissions consist of close-up photographs of the turtle facial profile, enabling us to outline the unique pattern of scales (scutes) that act like a human fingerprint.

During September, we received 20 submissions (THANK YOU!) and we were able to identify 5 new individual turtles and confirmed 9 resightings; the resightings are important as they allow us to keep track of the health and location of the individuals over the years.
Our database now totals 1159 Hawksbill individuals, 204 Greens and 56 Olive Ridleys. Spotted a turtle?  Share your photos

Entering all the turtles individually into i3s software has allowed us to identify any duplicates in the database, and now enables more rapid processing and identification of new photo submissions. We are now auditing and updating the location parameters in the database.

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

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.

Photos: (1) Reefscapers coral frames at Kuda Huraa water villas.
(2) Junior Marine Savers learn the importance of corals.

junior Marine Savers at Kuda Huraa
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MARINE SAVERS AT THE MANTA FESTIVAL 2019! We were glad to be present for the second Manta Festival of the history of Baa Atoll. Our Reefscapers/Marinesavers stall was engaging the 280 visiting students with various games around the thematic of the ocean pollution, giving ideas to reduce and repurpose the plastics in the ocean. The famous ghost net bracelets and some basket ball games to educate on segregating the wastes had a great success among the youngs and the adults. The aim of the event is to introduce young people to the marine environment and raise awareness of marine conservation within Baa Atoll and the Maldives. At Marine Savers our stall was animated by our FS apprentices, who are studying marine biology in their program. It was a great opportunity for our youngsters to restitute what they learnt and pass on the message to care for the planet. We are as well very thankful to the Reefscapers volunteers, who worked hours to obtain 500 ghost net strings, to create bracelets for all the kids and helped with the games preparation. Our biggest thanks go to @mantatrust for initiating and organising this event alongside with the @baaatollbr . Thank you to @fsmaldives for all the logistic to reach out the event. See you next year again ♡ #mantatrust #itsbetterinbaa #baamantafest #marinesavers #reefscapers #fsmaldives #mantarays #ilovemanta #marineeducation #marineprotectedareas #Eydhafushi #baaatoll #islandlife #maldives #gopro #indianocean

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Guest excursions Marine Savers Maldives - ray
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