Sea turtle rehabilitation enrichment toys FRISBEE

Fish Lab & Marine Aquaria

Clownfish Breeding

We have established an experimental tank with a mixed breeding pair of Amphiprion clarkii and Amphiprion nigripes; they are becoming more friendly, so we are hopeful of breeding hybrids.

The Clark’s clownfish breeding pair introduced earlier this year has still not started spawning. Generally, we expect to see courting behaviour after 3-4 months, so if no eggs are laid by the end of November (9 months from capture), we will return this pair to the wild.

The Maldivian clownfish are showing cleaning practices normally associated with laying eggs, but are yet to spawn. The Oscellaris are reliably spawning, but they are consuming their eggs after several days (a common problem when breeding Clownfish).

Plankton Production

The rotifers have been going through stages of high and low numbers, mostly attributed to sulphur bacteria and ciliate contamination during the previous months. Despite the continued presence of ciliates in our samples, the rotifer count has steadily risen from mid-October, and while there have been some dips, we are still working at over double the concentration from when ciliates were observed in large numbers.

We have been using UV-sterilised salt water and filtered freshwater to provide the best quality water for the rotifers, and committed to preparing yeast solutions in glass beakers instead of plastic bottles; both methods seem to have eliminated the presence of bacteria, and greatly reduced the levels of ciliates. We have kept the food ratio at 1g/200ml, to reduce the food available to the smaller ciliates, therefore limiting their growth and reducing the risk of competition. This method has shown daily increases of rotifers, with minimal increase of ciliate numbers. We are hopeful this method will eliminate any ciliates left in the tank, once the higher volume of rotifers out-competes the ciliates.

Little has changed in the artemia production. We are continuing to have greater hatching success by removing bleach from the process, and hydrating with saltwater only. We have also taken to keeping them outside, to allow maximum sunlight and a more natural temperature.

Algae production continues at half-capacity (since Apr 2020), as we do not have any hungry Clownfish larvae to feed.

Linckia multifora sea stars

  • SS1 (large specimen) – started to look unhealthy, so we relocated it to our coral pool (larger, with better water circulation).
  • SS3 (large specimen) – short arm has grown significantly this month (see image, depicting sizes from May to October).
Aquarium sea star growth SS3 May to Oct

Large Aquarium

We have been performing maintenance tasks on our large marine aquarium, and the temperature has stabilised at 28.9°C (a little too high). One of the UV lights failed, so we are borrowing 2 lights from the coral project. This has dramatically improved the lighting quality, so we have added some new soft coral specimens. We have also observed some of the Sclectarian corals start to encrust onto the substrate (a good sign).
The aquarium’s inhabitants are all actively feeding and are largely healthy, with natural movement around the tank, but we have decided not to add any new fish until we can capture the overly-aggressive crabs!

Small Aquarium One

  • Mini coral frame – 7 fragments are growing and remain healthy, and the hermit crabs are grazing on the excess algae.
  • We also introduced a Galaxea fascicularis to the aquarium (a different colour morph to our existing specimens).

Small Aquarium Two

  • Mini coral frame – tissue loss and some mortality of the Acropora digitifera.
  • Clark’s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkia) laid eggs three times this month.
  • Blue damselfish laid 2 batches of eggs (under a mushroom coral, so difficult to study).
  • Galaxea fascicularis specimen in aquarium 2 (pictured).
Aquarium-2 Galaxea fascicularis

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

We now have 5 tanks of growing jellyfish:
(1) polyp tank #20, (2) small-jelly Kreisel, (3) a medium-jelly Kreisel, (4) a large-jelly Kreisel, (5) main display.

All the water is now being UV-sterilised and changed every three days, resulting in much reduced growth of algae (especially noticeable in the main display tank).

By the end of October, we totalled 1360 jellyfish, with tens of thousands of polyps ready for strobilation [*]. We are currently investigating tank designs, and might start to sell our Aurelia to hobby aquarists in the Maldives (international prices are $20- $70/jellyfish, dependent on size).
[*] 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

Reefscapers Bissie's reef

A bespoke B-shaped Reefscapers reef, newly transplanted in the lagoon at Landaa Giraavaru during October

Monthly Progress – October

At Kuda Huraa this month, we’ve been training our newly appointed coral biologist, and we transplanted 3 new coral frames sponsored by Resort guests. We monitored 33 frames at our Water Villas site, and relocated 42 frames from the deep Blue Hole refuge site (where sand movement is an issue) to firm substrate at the House Reef site.
At Landaa, a total of 409 coral frames were monitored (cleaned, maintained, photographed) mainly at the Blu and Coral Trail sites. We also transplanted 23 new coral frames, thanks mainly to a generous online donation that enabled us to build a B-shaped pattern as a personalised commemoration (see photos).

Check out our 2020 Diary for further project details and all our latest photographs, including updates on our autonomous AI coral ID project. We also have coral spawning news, and you can read about our ongoing efforts to capture the exact moment of coral bleaching using dedicated time-lapse photography.

Reefscapers AI models coral identification algorithms

After an increase in the temperatures during the month of April, corals are now starting to recover. Our marine...

Posted by Marine Savers on Sunday, 11 October 2020

Within the space of a year, our lab raised coral recruits have gone from microscopic planulae to small colonies of...

Posted by Marine Savers on Sunday, 25 October 2020
Reefscapers - "B" Bissie's reef
Reefscapers relocating coral frames with airlift bags

Watch the making of a coral frame, after and...before (👉in Stories)! Despite an increase in sea temperatures in April,...

Posted by Four Seasons Resorts Maldives on Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Our coral frames not only aid species richness but increase habitat complexity. This means that, given time, our man...

Posted by Reefscapers on Thursday, 15 October 2020

Sea Turtle Conservation

Turtle hatchlings Maldives Marine Savers

 

During October at Landaa, we have been taking care of 4 Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) patients.
At Kuda Huraa, we have been treating: 1 Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), 3 Hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) and 2 Olive Ridleys.

On 3 October we waved goodbye to Arielle, and on 5 October it was time to release Barbara back into the ocean. Farewell and bon voyages to our turtle friends !

Flying Turtles

With the global restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic slowly lifting, we have been re-establishing contact with some of the overseas aquariums interested in housing our non-releasable patients. Conversations are ongoing to discuss and finalise the operations, including: biological samples (for health assessments); governmental documentation; CITES import/export permits; transport logistics, and animal handlers to accompany the turtles.

Turtle Environmental Enrichment

Our environmental enrichment project is continuing. We are presenting our long-term turtle residents with a variety of novel ‘toys’ and play objects, to stimulate their curiosity and senses.

For the next stage, a pilot study is being conducted to characterise the behaviours of the turtles with and without enrichment. So far, we have recorded 20 short video clips for all four of Landaa’s Olive Ridley patients:

  • behaviour without enrichment,
  • behaviour with 3 food-delivery systems (plastic lid, rotational pipe, floating pipe),
  • behaviour with 3 objects (PVC frame, plastic balls, brush).

Raw data has been obtained from the control videos and four of the enrichment devices, and we are creating ethograms (behaviour catalogues) to evaluate the effectiveness of the devices. Using continuous sampling, the footage is being evaluated by timing the different behaviours: pattern swimming, oriented behaviour (interaction with the enrichment device), random swimming, resting, and social interactions of every turtle with each device.

Sea turtle rehabilitation enrichment toys APRIL

April’ interacting with floating plastic balls

Sea turtle rehabilitation enrichment toys FRISBEE
Frisbee’ scratching against a brush
Sea turtle rehabilitation enrichment toys VARU

Varu’ chasing after food presented in a free-floating pipe

Sea turtle rehabilitation enrichment toys APRIL

April’ feeding from a floating lid

Sea turtle rehabilitation enrichment toys FRISBEE

Frisbee’ interacting with a floating frame

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 12 sets of photo submissions from the public towards our national sea turtle ID project.

Spotted a turtle?  Share your photos

Turtle identification Maldives (CM214)

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

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 see how your sponsored frame grows by viewing our photo updates every 6 months, as part of our unique 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
Marine life close to Kuda Huraa Maldives manta ray

Our Unreleasable Turtle Residents

Our Current Turtle Patients

Our Turtle Hatchling Patients

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