Fish Lab & Aquaria – Marine Life in the Maldives

Aquarium clownfish breeding pairs Maldives

Anemonefish with its anemone, at home in our Fish Lab

During September, we have been restocking our small Fish Lab aquaria with new specimens, and currently all 20 display tanks are full, including new breeding pairs of anemonefish. The lionfish in tank #34 is proving the most popular among guests and staff alike. We have also introduced humbugs, green sergeants and new pipefish. The damsel fish continue to spawn, but we have so far not been able to grow them beyond day two (due to their delicate size, and lack of optimal food).

Large Aquarium

Over the last few weeks, we’ve added some new residents to our large 4000L display aquarium, including:

  • a pair of black-eye rabbitfish, to help control algal growth;
  • a goatfish, for increased sand filtration.

Plankton Production

  • Plankton – the population has remained stable during the month. However, we had one incident of cross-contamination with the rotifers, which required a deep clean through a finer mesh filter. This resulted in a drop in numbers, but with our new feed and accurate portioning regime (based on population size), we have observed a steady and manageable rise in numbers.
  • Algae – the 100L buckets continue to grow well with the slight decrease in air temperature, and so we are now running four buckets to provide ample grow-out food for the increased Artemia brine shrimp populations.
  • Artemia – we are now successfully running concentrations of 4g/2L (double the recommended ratio), providing us a larger yield to feed both the growing jellyfish juveniles and our newly introduced Fish Lab species.
Fish Lab Maldives aquaculture Lionfish

Our new Lionfish makes a splash in the Fish Lab
(see also the large photo, very bottom of page)

Fish Lab aquarium clownfish breeding Maldives

We breed 3 species of Anemonefish (Clownfish) in dedicated aquaria at Landaa Giraavaru’s Fish Lab

Aquarium One

  • Sand change, where the residents were temporarily rehoused, and old sand was removed with a hose
  • Mushroom coral – continues to regain normal colouration.
  • Mini coral frame – all 15 fragments are generally healthy.
  • A sea hare egg-ribbon was spotted on the aquarium wall, but was soon eaten.
  • One of the sailfin tangs (Zebrasoma desjardinii) was found with a small injury on the base of the dorsal fin, which disappeared after a few days (likely infection or crab attack).
  • Two small Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) were brought from Landaa Giraavaru.
  • Sea star (Linckia multifora) – healthy, with variation in arm length (the three shorter arms are now growing).

Aquarium Two

  • Sand change, where the residents were temporarily rehoused, and old sand was removed with a hose
  • Clark´s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) breeding pair – quiet.
  • Mini coral frame – the existing coral fragments are healthy and growing; seven additional fragments (Acropora tenuis) were attached this month.
  • Sea star (Linckia multifora) – following a period of poor health since June, it was isolated and has now recovered again and has been returned to the tank, free from wounds and parasites.

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

The juvenile jellies are growing well in the Fish Lab, and will soon be large enough to move into our large display tank. We have started trialling a sump, using a sock filter to remove waste food and limit the water changes to 20% twice a week. This will hopefully prevent the ‘folding’ jellyfish issue by reducing excess handling, and maintain a more constant water environment (of nutrients and good bacteria in the water).

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

Zooplankton Study

For collection of our zooplankton samples, we have started to complete tows in specific areas (Parrot Reef, Nurafaru) with our custom collection net. After initial data analysis, we plan to increase our standard tow-time to three minutes for a larger and more diverse sample.
We are currently training up to ID the various zooplankton, complete the streamlined recording sheet, and proceed with the necessary data entry process.
Many thanks to our overseas mentors at MBA [UK] (Dave Conway) and CSIRO [AUS] (Dr Anthony Richardson and Frank Coman).

Apprenticeship marine biology Maldives Four Seasons lab

Four Seasons apprenticeship – plankton production in the Fish Lab.
Waseem (left) and Akil (intern) practising the protocols.

Apprenticeship marine biology Maldives Four Seasons microscope

Four Seasons apprenticeship – Nabeel conducting a microscopic count, to determine plankton population.

The Four Seasons Resorts Maldives Apprenticeship Program (photos above and below) is dedicated to providing enthusiastic Maldivians with the expertise required to excel as professionals in the hospitality industry. Young men and women (aged 17 to 20) are invited to apply to the annual intake of this government-accredited Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET) program.

Since the program’s inception in 2001, the total number of graduates stands at 651, making it one of the most successful tourism & hospitality apprenticeships in the Indian Ocean region. For further information, read about the 2021 inauguration and join the Official Facebook Community.

Core program goals: develop technical skills and professional knowledge; coach mindsets, attitudes, values, and behaviours.

Whilst living, studying and working onsite at Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru, apprentices gain hands-on experience in:
– Food and Beverage Prep/Service; Housekeeping & Guest Services;
– PADI Dive Master; Water Sports; Marine Biology;
– New modules in 2021: Safe Maritime Transport & Boat Mechanic, and Front Office & Recreation Attendant.

REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation & Reef Restoration in the Maldives

Reefscapers coral monitoring Maldives house reef

Monthly Progress

During September, we transplanted 16 new coral frames around both resorts, using more than 500 harvested coral fragments for our transplanting and maintenance work.

Check out our Reefscapers Diaries page for further details and photographs of our ongoing coral propagation efforts and reef regeneration experiments, both in the Lab and out in the lagoon. This month, we analysed data from our temperature logger, located at the House Reef site at Kuda Huraa.

Apprenticeship marine biology Maldives Four Seasons

Four Seasons apprenticeship – photographing newly transplanted coral frames as part of our sponsored reef regeneration.

Reefscapers coral reef restoration Maldives

Photographs of our coral frames are taken every 6 months, and sent out to sponsors to watch the corals grow and fluorish.

Sea Turtle Rescue & Conservation

turtle rehabilitation Maldives ocean swims

Regular ocean swims are an important part of turtle rehabilitation, as our injured turtle patients regain strength and skills to swim and dive.

Sea Turtle Rehabilitation

At the close of September, we were caring for 3 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 2 Hawksbills.

This month, we successfully released Oevaali, our largest ever Olive Ridley turtle patient (64.5cm, 39kg) after three months at our centre, which included one month in our lagoon enclosure.

Sadly, this month we lost Quasi, who hatched right here on Kuda Huraa’s beach back in March 2017. He was born with deformations, so could not be released into the wild. After a difficult first year, he started to grow more quickly after mastering eating with his deformed beak. Read the full story about Quasi and his turtle nest hatchling siblings. He will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered.

Raai was fitted with a satellite tracker and released on released on 14 August. Follow his progress on our interactive map !

Sea Turtle Enclosure

On 15 August, we transferred Oevaali to our large turtle enclosure in the lagoon at Landaa. After one month, she was able to dive and rest comfortably at the bottom of the pool, and was successfully released back into the ocean on 13 September.

Flying Turtles

During September, we have continued liaising with our overseas partners to send our unreleasable Olive Ridley patient, ‘April’ to a new permanent aquarium home, hopefully in November. During October, further virtual meetings will take place to complete all the official documentation, and finalise the logistical and PR details.

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

During September, we received 7 submissions of photo sets from the public to our Sea Turtle ID project. Our current database catalogues 5,100+ photographic sightings, and to date has positively identified and named a total of: 1314 Hawksbills, 276 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

apprenticeship Four Seasons Maldives turtle care (Sajjey and Jinan)

Four Seasons apprenticeship – Sajjey & Jinan learn to care for our sea turtle patients, rescued from ghost net entanglement.

apprenticeship turtle rehabilitation Maldives ocean swim

Four Seasons apprenticeship – Akil helps with sick turtle rehabilitation, by encouraging diving behaviours in the lagoon.

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
Dolphin ID bottlenose leaping Maldives

Bottlenose dolphins leaping in the waves, photographed as part of our Dolphin ID Project. We have taken thousands of photographs, and individually identified more than 500 Cetacean species, thanks to the unique shape and outline of their dorsal fins.

Our Unreleasable Turtle Residents

Our Current Turtle Patients

Our Juvenile Turtle Patients

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Fish Lab Maldives aquaculture Lionfish