Fish Lab & Aquaria – Marine Life in the Maldives

In July, we marked the fourth anniversary of our ‘Immersion Tour’ of the redesigned and expanded Marine Discovery Centre. This month, we welcomed 124 curious visitors (from 17 different countries including the USA, Russia, and Dubai) bringing our total to more than 3,000 guided tours of our facilities (just in the last 4 years).

MDC and Aquarium refurbished - Marine Savers Maldives [1405] 1920px

Our Marine Discovery Centre, Landaa Giraavaru

Large Aquarium

Following the seasonally elevated ocean temperatures, there are now plenty of natural coral recruits and healthy levels of coral growth around our large aquarium, so it will be interesting to see how the ecosystem matures.

Specimen Tanks

Our ‘overgrown’ marine plant displays are receiving a good level of interest from Fish Lab visitors. There is a selection of invertebrate specimens thriving amongst the algae, highlighting the importance of species diversity on the reef.

Plankton Production

We have incorporated the 100L grow-out tanks (Artemia, Algae) into the public-facing display in our Fish Lab, to gauge visitor interest.

  • Rotifers – numbers have boomed, so we have reduced the food to 6ml/day.
  • Artemia – production is still operating at 4g/day, which is providing ample feed.
  • Algae – remained constant. Changes required every four days.

Linckia multifora sea stars

  • SS3 – remains in good health, despite lack of growth in recent months.
  • SS4 – no growth this month, but now healed after suffering from lacerations (following a crab attack).

Small Aquarium One

  • Mushroom coral – continues to regain colour and exhibit good health (see photo).
  • Mini coral frame – healthy and continuing to grow.

Small Aquarium Two

  • Clark´s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) breeding pair – laid eggs in their usual spot.
  • Mini coral frame – continues to have steady and evident growth (see photo, showing coral encrusting onto frame).
  • Goniopora coral – became colonised by encrusting polychaetes, so was removed. 
Aquarium-2 mini coral frame growth
Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

With the help of our Four Seasons Apprentices, we have started to induce strobilation on another tile from the polyp tank. We aim to have 500 juvenile jellyfish in circulation in the Fish Lab, to allow us to keep the main cylinder regularly stocked, and to free up space in the polyp tank for new production.

We have drained, cleaned and refilled our main display jellyfish cylinder to improve water quality. The larger remaining jellyfish specimens have grown to a good size and are looking healthy.

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

Zooplankton Study

We have now received all of our zooplankton collection equipment, and have made some successful trials with our homemade net.

  • We have determined that a one-minute tow with the 150µm mesh net will provide a good quantity of zooplankton for analysis.
  • Thorough cleaning of the flow metre is a time-consuming task, so we are exploring methods for disassembly and reassembly (see photos). The flow metre allows us to determine speed, distance and volume, facilitating data entry without extra equipment.
  • We will need a ‘spin checker’ to perform periodic calibration of the flow metre.
  • We are experimenting with various apps to determine GPS coordinates for plot points on ‘Google Earth Pro’.
  • The splitter and dehydration process are successful, but we need to fine-tune the measurements.
  • Identifying the large number of zooplankton specimens will be time-consuming, although we do have both a stereo microscope (preferred) and a compound microscope.
  • Hannah, a zooplankton expert, has recently arrived at Landaa, and will soon be commencing her study. We aim to collaborate as much as possible over the coming months to solidify a methodology that is replicable and can continue long into the future.

Many thanks to our overseas mentors at MBA [UK] (Dave Conway) and CSIRO [AUS] (Dr Anthony Richardson and Frank Coman).

Fish Lab Maldives zooplankton flowmeter assembled

Our flow metre, assembled and ready for use

Fish Lab Maldives zooplankton flowmeter disassembled

Flow metre disassembly and cleaning is  time-consuming

REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation & Reef Regeneration in the Maldives

Reefscapers healthy coral propagation colonies Maldives

Healthy propagated coral colonies growing on our Reefscapers frames, attracting abundant marine life

Monthly Progress

During July, we transplanted 49 new coral frames around both resorts, and used more than 3000 coral fragments in total, for all our transplanting and recycling this month.

Check out our Reefscapers Diaries page for further details and photographs of our coral benthic survey (map, below) and coral bleaching experiments.

New 3D-Printer

Thanks to kind donations from guests, this month we purchased a 3D printer (Snapmaker) capable of three different functions via exchangeable heads: 3D printing, laser engraving, and CNC-carving. This will enable us to:

  • Experiment with different techniques and materials for engraving coral frame tags (and dedications).
  • Design custom flipper prosthetics for our long-term ‘unreleasable’ turtle residents.
  • Produce environment-enrichment devices (EEDs or ‘pool toys’) for our turtle patients.
Reefscapers coral quadrat survey sites Maldives

Coral survey – the mapped quadrat sites around Landaa Giraavaru this month

Sea Turtle Rescue & Conservation

RAAI stranded male Olive Ridley turtle rescued Maldives

Raai in our recovery pool, before being transferred to our turtle enclosure

Sea Turtle Rehabilitation

At the close of July, we were caring for 6 Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and 1 Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) in our Rehabilitation Centre at Landaa. At Kuda Huraa, our turtle patients include 2 rescued Olive Ridleys, plus our rehabilitating juveniles: 4 Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and 7 Hawksbills.

Sea Turtle Enclosure

Out in Landaa’s lagoon, our large turtle enclosure remains open and in good condition, despite recent monsoon rains. Some simple maintenance tasks were completed, including fixing the shade, replacing the central rope, and stitching a small hole in the netting.

On 25 July, we transferred Raai out to the enclosure to complete his rehabilitation process. He is already making good progress, able to dive below the surface and stay underwater without much effort. As soon as he’s able to rest at the bottom of the enclosure, he will be released (hopefully within the next month).

Flying Turtles Team

Our pioneering Flying Turtles project (2016) to rehouse unreleasable turtles (with amputated flippers) in aquarium homes overseas

Flying Turtles

  • We hope that our long-term resident Olive Ridley turtle, ‘April’ will be joining our unique Flying Turtles club in November, leaving our Centre for a new permanent home in an aquarium facility in the UK.
  • We have been granted export/import permits, valid till the end of the year.
  • We have been issued a one-time ‘special research permit’ from the Maldives Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so we will reapply for any Flying Turtles in the future.
  • A “no objection” letter has been obtained from the Maldives Ministry of Fisheries.
  • Still pending: “Phytosanitary Certificate” for ‘April’.
  • Next month, we will discuss logistics, and the different plans will be set in motion.
  • Our UK partners are communicating with airlines and cargo, and we are currently waiting on the pandemic travel restrictions to ease (quarantine in UK) so the turtle can be accompanied along the entire journey.

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

During July, we received 8 submissions from the public to our Sea Turtle ID project. Our current database catalogues 5,000+ photographic sightings, and to date has positively identified and named a total of: 1306 Hawksbills, 274 Greens and 98 Olive Ridleys.

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.

Spotted a turtle?  Share your photos

Turtle ID Maldives photo submissions Hawksbill male
Junior Marine Savers activities

Further News & Updates

You might also be interested in our Dolphin ID Project, and our unique Sea Turtle Enclosure out in the lagoon at Landaa.

Looking for details of our Reefscapers coral propagation and reef restoration program ?

Head over to our Reefscapers Diaries for all the latest updates.

You can view your sponsored frame photographs (updated every 6 months) as part of our Maldives resorts Coral Frame Collection.

‘Junior Marine Savers’ photos: (1) Transplanting a Reefscapers coral frame; (2) feeding turtle hatchlings.

Junior Marine Savers activities
Marine Savers Maldives life on the reef - ray

A curious Pink Whiptail Stingray

Our Unreleasable Turtle Residents

Our Current Turtle Patients

Our Juvenile Turtle Patients

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