Reefscapers growing coral reef restoration Maldives

Reefscapers coral frames provide an important habitat for various species of reef fish

Fish Lab & Marine Aquaria

Plankton Production

During September, our Rotifer production stabilised, without the Ciliate issues from last month. Artemia production (food source for juvenile clownfish, jellyfish, seahorses) has been increased due to the number of growing jellyfish. Artemia are now hydrated for 24 hours to facilitate hatching as this has proven more reliable than the bleaching process. The hatched larvae are then siphoned daily and a new batch hydrated every 2 days.

Clownfish breeding

No eggs were produced this month, but all of our 49 Clark’s Clownfish juveniles are healthy and continue to grow well.

Linckia multifora sea stars

  • SS1 (large specimen) – was found with one of its legs recently amputated. We will keep a close eye on the recovery of both the parent and the detached arm.
  • SS3 (large specimen) – the developing arm has grown significantly this month, whilst the longest arm decreased in size by 3mm.

Small Aquarium One

  • Mini coral frame – seven fragments remain healthy, but show little signs of growth since last month.
  • Maldivian anemone fish (Amphiprion nigripes) laid a clutch of eggs on 9 September.

Small Aquarium Two

  • Mini coral frame – following the loss of 2 of the Acropora digitifera fragments last month, one more fragment is now showing the same symptoms of white coloration and some dead tissue. The other fragments look healthy and are encrusting onto the coral frame.
  • The Galaxea fascicularis colony encrusted onto the aquarium wall continues to grow.
  • Clark’s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkia) laid 3 clutches of eggs this month. The first clutch was soon eaten by the resident sea stars, but we were able to monitor and photograph the eggs from the subsequent 2 clutches.
  • Blue damselfish laid their first 2 batches of eggs this month.
  • Two new surprise specimens found hidden in the rocks… a sea slug and a mantis shrimp! Plus, we introduced a pair of juvenile batfish.
Aquarium mystery sea slug
Aquarium mantis shrimp

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

During September, we closely monitored (and subsequently reduced) the salinity in each of our staging facilities. As a result, we were able to successfully strobilate [*] 1400 ephyra, and now have approximately 1000 jellyfish of varying sizes over our 4 holding tanks. The largest individuals are approximately 10cm across, and will soon be ready for relocation to the main display tank. Most individuals are still in the staging process, and will be added to the display tank once they reach sufficient size.

The staging tanks (photos, below) require twice-daily feeding regimes and 100% water changes, which are very labour intensive. However, the larger individuals are more robust and once introduced to the large display tank, will receive daily feeding and monthly maintenance. To reduce algae blooms, we have engineered and fitted a new opaque cover for the tank light, alongside an external UV steriliser which is run inline when filling. The display tank will be run on a closed system due to the current sea surface temperature. In the coming months we will look into adjusting the existing pipe work to enable us to accommodate the UV steriliser and filtration into the closed system loop. This will provide us with more flexibility and a more stable environment.

[*] Strobilation is defined as asexual reproduction by transverse division of the body segments which develop into separate individuals.

Aquarium jellyfish Aurellia staging tanks
Aquarium jellyfish Aurellia staging tanks
Aquarium jellyfish Aurellia staging tanks

REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation Program

Monthly Progress – September

At Landaa this month, we transplanted 12 new coral frames, and monitored a further 394 frames (mainly at our Blu site).

At Kuda Huraa, we monitored 62 coral frames, and we also revisited our sample of wild colonies and confirmed they are now fully recovered from bleaching.
At the shallow Water Villas site, some of the coral colonies on our frames are recovering from paling last month, and are regaining their healthy colouration.
All the 42 frames at the Blue Hole site were monitored, and their photographs uploaded to our online database.

Check out our 2020 Diary for further project details and all our latest photographs, including updates on our autonomous AI coral ID project (below).

Reefscapers AI models coral identification algorithms

Sea Turtle Conservation

During September, we cared for 4 Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) at Landaa, and a total of 8 sea turtles at Kuda Huraa:  1 Green (Chelonia mydas), 3 Hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) and 4 Olive Ridleys.

All our turtles are now long-term patients, and some will never be able to survive out in the wild. We are enhancing our environmental enrichment plan, to use a larger variety of different objects to encourage curiosity and stimulate the senses. Objects such as PVC frames, balls and brushes are being presented to the turtles for tactile stimulation. To simulate foraging and hunting behaviours, we are giving foods in ice blocks (‘fish popsicles’), and using a variety of floating devices to encourage interaction and problem-solving. We are also conducting weekly ocean swims for each of our patients.

For the next stage, a pilot study will be conducted to characterise the behaviour of the turtles with and without enrichment. We will use video recordings and ethograms to evaluate the effectiveness of the enrichment devices.

Louise, a rescued Olive Ridley turtle, was successfully released back into the ocean on 4 September (video below, right) following 8 months of rehabilitation and care at our turtle rescue centre (2 photographs below).

Louise female Olive Ridley turtle rescue treatment Maldives
Louise female Olive Ridley turtle rescue treatment Maldives

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

Turtle photographs are kindly sent to us from members of the public, fellow marine biologists and dive centres 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 sets of photo submissions from the public towards our national sea turtle ID project. Our current database now contains the following uniquely identified individuals: 1263 Hawksbills, 221 Greens and 98 Olive Ridleys, with 4800 separate sightings.

Spotted a turtle?  Share your photos

Turtle identification Maldives (CM214)

Green turtle #CM214, from our ID database of Maldivian turtles

Sea Turtle satellite tracking map Maldives 2020

Read about Shakti and follow her journey via satellite tracking

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 2020 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

Our Unreleasable Turtle Residents

Our Current Turtle Patients

Our Turtle Hatchling Patients

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