I’m 21 years old and just recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine and Wildlife biology from Griffith University on the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia). Coming straight out of Uni I never thought I would get the opportunity to even visit the Maldives, let alone work in such a beautiful place. This has already been an incredible experience and I’m only one month in!
My days usually involve feeding the turtles and recording the feeds, cleaning their pools and giving them their daily treatments (I’ve learnt how to administer injections with antibiotics and fluids, and clean infected wounds). I’ve learnt however, that when you are looking after 23 turtles, no 2 days are ever the same.
Our turtle Rescue Centre
Cleaning Trooper’s wounds
The second arrival, however, was a reminder of how much of a threat the ghost nets really are to turtles. An Olive Ridley (‘Mitte’) was found floating in a net (photo) just outside the resort and was brought in by the morning dive team. At first glance, her wounds did not seem severe and a quick release seemed possible. However, within a few days, her condition took a turn for the worse and one of her front flippers became infected. The infection spread to the rest of her body and unfortunately, she passed away. It is heartbreaking to know that the biggest threats to wild, free-swimming sea turtles predominantly arise from human-related actions.
Wild Hawksbill turtle cruising along the reef on one of our snorkel trips (with Powder Blue Tang and Lined Bristletooth)
Apart from turtle-related tasks, I have also been assisting our marine biologists by helping lead some of marine life talks and snorkel trips. Each day we have a different snorkel trip, which starts with a relevant presentation on marine life, and follows with a trip out to one of surrounding reefs where guests are able to see these animals in their natural habitats. It has been wonderful to be able to speak to the public about the marine life that we have here in the Maldives and then take them out to the ocean to see everything for themselves. From snorkelling with sharks, to rays and turtles, it’s always rewarding when guests show such an interest in the diverse marine life. I have also really enjoyed leading the evening dolphin excursions. Cruising through the channel at sunset with spinner and bottlenose dolphins swimming alongside the boat is always a great way to end any working day.
In the past 7 years, A LOT of photographs have been submitted into the database, with 200+ Green turtles and 1000+ Hawksbills individually identified and catalogued. For the past month, my role in the project has been sorting through all the photos of the submitted turtles, to confirm that no duplicates have been entered into the database. This will help to ensure the accuracy of any further identifications.
Even my days/nights off have been interesting, and I was fortunate to be here during the annual staff party, which was a great night filled with a lot of dancing. I have also started diving on the local House Reef on my days off; it’s great to begin diving in the Maldives and I’m looking forward to doing more of it.
Till next time