Hi, I’m Julia, 28 years young from England, and I’m the current marine biology intern here at Kuda Huraa! I graduated from the University of Southampton with a Master’s in Marine Biology back in 2013. Since then I’ve been travelling, working and volunteering around the world, including spending 8 months last year hand-rearing African penguin chicks at SANCCOB seabird hospital in Cape Town!
It’s been an action-packed few weeks since my arrival to Kuda Huraa. The majority of my day is dedicated to turtle feeding, cleaning and monitoring, all the while talking to the resort guests and discussing the different conservation efforts conducted by Marine Savers. At the moment, there are large numbers of adult Olive Ridley turtles drifting to the Maldives trapped in discarded (ghost) fishing gear, often wounded and dehydrated when they’re rescued.
Here at Marine Savers we’ve received 5 large Olive Ridley turtles in just a couple of days! Logistically, we’ve had to shuffle turtles around to make room for these new patients, and transfer the most severely injured animals to the veterinarian at the ORP.
Recently, I accompanied a turtle named Phantom, so named because the damage caused by ghost nets she was tangled in had exposed parts of her skull; we travelled by boat to the airport, where she boarded a seaplane to make the trip to the veterinarian for more intensive, specialised treatment.
I’ve also been giving presentations to the resort guests about dolphins, sharks and other marine life. These talks introduce the Marine Savers safari and snorkel trips, and are a great opportunity to spread the message of conservation by educating and spreading awareness of the threats these marine species face in our oceans.
Last week, I led a Kids’ Club session for a group of children from all around the world. Together we learned about coral reefs and the important role they play in the world’s oceans; then we attached coral fragments to a frame, contributing towards our Reefscapers coral propagation and restoration efforts. The children were delighted to be a part of the action and for me it was really rewarding to inspire young minds to help protect the coral reefs.
The coral propagation work done by Reefscapers is actually what drew me to Kuda Huraa in the first place. I’ve been learning lots about the theory of coral frames as a tool for restoration, coral bleaching events here in Maldives and the art of branching coral species identification from Hannah, the coral biologist.
With the annual coral bleaching event expected in the coming weeks, I hope to collect enough data to analyse the effects of shading the coral frames from the sun on the corals’ resilience to bleaching. If it’s a success, information like this might help with the selection of future locations for coral frame placement to help boost survival rates.