Fish Lab & Marine Aquaria
Fish Lab Population
We have 2 seahorses in tank #32, one male and one juvenile. They are being fed 3-times/day with our lab-grown Artemia. The female Maldivian anemonefish (Small Aquarium #1, KH) has laid eggs twice this month, but by day 3 the eggs had disappeared (presumed eaten).
Several Clownfish were captured from an anemone growing in the turtle enclosure, and relocated to a holding tank in our Fish Lab; however, these fish soon started fighting amongst themselves, with one dominant ‘bully’ picking on the 5 other individuals. Following some separation time, we added extra pots and tubes to provide shelter and comfort to the fish, and a peaceful balance has now been restored.
We recently captured a Cauliflower jellyfish that had drifted close to our shores and added it to our large marine aquarium. It was also accompanied by a ‘Silver drift fish’ as part of a mutualistic relationship, although they didn’t take to being in captivity together so they were separated. In our large aquarium we now have 79 marine residents representing 42 different species from 17 different families.
Local Schools pay a visit to Marine Savers
The school visits season is open at our Marine Discovery Centre, Landaa Giraavaru!
All Baa atoll schools are invited to learn about corals and sea turtles, and to immerse themselves in the expertise of our Marine Savers and Manta Trust teams. This educational tour offered by Four Seasons, aims to encourage young Maldivians to foster their interest to protect their environment and to become aware of the multiple career opportunities in eco-tourism and marine biology.
If you wish your school to visit the centre, please do not hesitate to contact us – we will be happy to welcome more schools every year.
Since we implemented our new cleaning/maintenance protocols, our juvenile moon jellyfish (in small tanks) have shown significant improvements in their structure and development. The diameter of the bells increased, and curvature has decreased (signs of better health). Previously, there was little activity in these individuals, but now 87% of the jellyfish have resumed pulsation and at great frequency. We are carefully monitoring and feeding them more frequently to encourage faster growth until they are big enough to be moved to the large Kreisel tank.
As with previous months, there have been recent challenges with the jellyfish. Two of the juvenile medusae detached their oral arms from their bells; we thought this was irreversible, but we were pleased to see that one of the individuals regrew its oral arms and completed perfect symmetry again, one month later. This coincides with current literature and scientific observations that Aurelia aurita can regenerate to full capacity, given optimum conditions and presence of vital organs.
Whilst the Aurelia medusae in the main aquarium appear healthy and are growing at a good rate, the increased competition for Artemia food means the Marbled jellyfish individual has actually shrunk in size (we have now removed it, for closer observation and direct feeding).
After relocating the juvenile medusae from the Fish Lab tanks to our large Kreisel tank, we attempted to run on an open system (with filtered water pumped in from the ocean). However, the jellyfish started to display signs of stress (increased bell concavity, retracted oral arms) and therefore the tank was retreated to a closed system, with daily flushing and water renewal. Growth of Aurelia aurita is not always linear, and they are able to reverse their lifecycle if the environment proves unsuitable for sustained positive growth. They do not appear to adapt well and environmental conditioning has not proven an easy feat, however, these individuals precede dinosaurs and therefore this unique method of adaptation and sustaining life has no doubt proven efficient in their longevity and persistence in the dynamic ocean environment.
During July, the Aurelia grew an average of 60mm around the margin, whereas during August this reduced to just an 8mm increase. We currently have a total of 20 good-sized jellyfish featured in the Kriesel aquarium, and a further 11 individuals are being grown on in the Fish Lab until they reach the required size.
Sea Turtle Conservation
Baa Atoll Turtle Festival
On 22 June, Reefscapers and the Manta Trust joined the first Baa Atoll Turtle Festival, held at the local island of Hithaadhoo and organised by the Olive Ridley Project. Thanks to Four Seasons sponsorship, Reefscapers helped the local Kudarikilu School attend the festival.
It was a great educational event to celebrate sea turtle conservation, and a good opportunity to showcase Marine Savers’ conservation work. Carla gave a presentation on our marine programs and detailed the pioneering Flying Turtles project. Jasmine and Melissa prepared an interactive stall to raise awareness about ghost fishing nets and the dangers they pose to sea turtles in our oceans.
We continue to try to find overseas aquarium homes for our “unreleasable” turtle patients as part of our ‘Flying Turtles’ project. We aim to send 3 of our unreleasable Olive Ridley turtles (Taco, Frisbee and Chomper), that have been in our care for more than 1 year. 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 completing the supporting documents for a draft import permit, for approval by the appropriate Maldivian authorities.
We are also in regular contact 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 awaiting confirmation of the specific medical tests they require, before applying for the CITES permits here in the Maldives. A recent Skype conference call between Marine Savers and the aquarium team was held, to discuss which of our turtles would be most suitable for rehousing (perhaps Chomper and April).
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 India.
Maldives Sea Turtle ID Project
We continue to receive turtle photographs, 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 the last few months, we have received 45 submissions, and we were subsequently able to uniquely identify 5 new Hawksbill turtle individuals, and confirm a further 24 re-sightings of turtles already present in our database. Our total numbers of uniquely identified turtle individuals in the Maldives now stands at 1159 Hawksbills, 204 Greens and 56 Olive Ridleys.
A big THANK YOU to all our contributors. 🙂
Spotted a turtle? Share your photos
Growth of some of our GREEN Turtles 2018-19 (weight in grams)
Growth of some of our HAWKSBILL Turtles 2017-19 (weight in grams)
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.