Fish Lab & Aquaria – Marine Life in the Maldives

Aquarium coral Sinularia

Soft coral (Sinularia species) in our large display aquarium, Landaa Giraavaru

Large Aquarium

We added a large specimen of leather coral (Sinularia), which has acclimatised nicely, and is proving popular with visitors due to its impressive size. We also repopulated the Acropora hard corals, lost in October.

Our resident pair of boxer shrimp (Stenopsu hispidus) were seen with eggs, so were relocated from the main aquarium into a dedicated breeding tank in the Fish Lab. We also have a new Sargassum frogfish (Histrio histrio), found by staff members in the lagoon.

Clownfish Breeding

Our clownfish breeding pair in tank #3 has continued to produce eggs on a regular basis, but parental predation remains an issue (beginning from day five).

Our clownfish breeding pair in tank #1 produced a successful spawn, and the larvae are currently eating well and growing, with few mortalities, on a diet of rotifers and algae. New protocols are on trial to improve survival rates.

We have introduced tiles into the breeding tanks, to encourage spawning on a removable substrate (to reduce risks of damaging the larvae when removing them from the parent tank). Increasing feeding, along with the addition of a new prepared feed component to the diet (high protein/high fat), will hopefully induce more breeding pairs to produce eggs on a more regular basis. Parental egg predation is thought to be a result of low-quality eggs, which should be corrected by this change in diet following the introduction of vitamin-rich nori seaweed.

Plankton Production
Populations of algae, rotifer and Artemia are all good, following current protocols.

  • The algae population is continuing steadily on a four-day turnover, and providing ample food for Artemia grow-outs, which are used at various sizes as food for our fish breeding pairs, post metamorphosis larvae and the new frogfish.
  • The rotifers have been largely consistent, but numbers dropped towards the end of the month due to increased harvesting for larvae food.

Zooplankton Study

At the end of November, we observed a large bloom of bioluminescent zooplankton (Noctiluca scintillans) [photo]. We transferred a sample to an aerated conical flask, to try to culture the species for display.

Plankton bioluminescence Noctiluca scintillans day-1

Bioluminescent plankton, Noctiluca scintillans (day-1)

Plankton bioluminescence Noctiluca scintillans day-1

Bioluminescent plankton, Noctiluca scintillans (day-4)

Aquarium One

Aquarium One continues to be healthy overall, despite ongoing issues with water inflow (that we have so far been unable to identify and fix).

This month, we added a banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) and a fragment of Tubastrea sun coral [photo].

  • Mini coral frame – remains healthy.
  • Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) – continues to grow; observed with a deep cut on the base of its tail (caused by a crab attack?), which healed after two days.
  • Sailfin tang (Zebrasoma desjardinii) – a cut across the dorsal fin quickly healed after a few days, but we have recently observed some new scratches.
  • Sea star (Linckia multifora) – continues to show variations in arm lengths, and suffering from infection in some areas.

Aquarium Two

New marine specimens were donated by our Dive Centre colleagues, from their aquarium. The fish specimens are up to 3.5 cm long, and the five mushroom corals are up to 4 cm diameter.

All the corals (including an additional 8 cm colony of Goniopora) were quarantined before their introduction to the aquarium, and appear to have settled very well.

  • Two convict surgeonfish (Acanthurus triostegos),
  • Two one-spot demoiselle (Chrysiptera unimaculata),
  • Four blue-green chromis (Chromis viridis),
  • One banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus).
Aquarium-1 banded coral shrimp (Stenopus) sun coral (Tubastrea)
Aquarium-2 Chrysiptera Chromis Acanthurus

Chrysiptera / Chromis / Acanthurus (new to Aquarium-2)

Aquarium Two: Updates on our residents:

  • Clark´s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) breeding pair – laid eggs three times this month; each batch completed the development cycle and hatched overnight. Embryos were observed under the microscope in a late developmental stage, around nine hours before hatching, where melanophores, yolk sack, spinal cord and notochord were visible.
  • Mini coral frame – continues healthy growth.
  • Sea star (Linckia multifora) – in quarantine, stable and eating normally.
Aquarium-2 Amphiprion clarkii embryos

Amphiprion clarkii embryos (in Aquarium-2)

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

Our new sump system continues to work well; water changes are maintained at 35% every two days, with a larger water change when required. Currently, we have 20 large jellies in our main display Kreisel tank, and 548 growing jellies in our Fish Lab.

The Four Seasons Resorts Maldives Apprenticeship Program 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 & 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.

Marine Biology internship Maldives Jinan

Jinan, a current apprentice, harvesting coral fragments from our frames, for retransplantation

REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation & Reef Restoration in the Maldives

Reefscapers coral frame with Sea Life team

Our visiting SEA LIFE partners (see below) transplanting coral fragments to a REEFSCAPERS coral frame

Monthly Progress

During November, we transplanted 42 new/recycled coral frames around both Resorts, using 2,200+ harvested coral fragments for our transplanting and maintenance work.

Coral Spawning Event, November 2021

We have continued to monitor for new signs of coral spawning by carrying out night surveys from 20 to 25 November. Since 21 October, coral eggs have been sighted in five different species of Acropora, and we have successfully recorded coral spawning on 27 different frames (mainly at the Water Villas site).
Three spawning events were recorded this year (27 October and 24-25 November), and there may be additional events due to similar tidal patterns in October and November, plus reports of other spawning events in the Maldives. Following the two November spawning events, eggs have been observed in several Acropora species. Additionally, we have observed that not all mature coral colonies of the same species have produced eggs (asynchronous spawning – weeks apart and for the same species – is a known phenomenon even within the same site).

News and Education

  • Simon (our MDC Manager) and Margaux (our Coral Biologist) were interviewed by local news media – Dhauru and Mihaaru – to highlight the success of Reefscapers spawning and settlement research.
  • The International Ocean Institute (Maldives Branch) reached out to us, to discuss the Reefscapers coral spawning and settlement work. We participated in an online presentation to inform participants about our work, sharing photos and video along with our results.

Check out our Reefscapers 2021 Diary for further details and photographs of our ongoing coral propagation efforts and reef regeneration experiments, both in the Lab and out in the lagoon, throughout 2021. This month, we have more details, photos and video of the fascinating coral spawning event.

coral spawning - bundling of gametes

Sea Turtle Rescue & Conservation

Sea Turtle Rehabilitation

At the close of November, 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 1 rescued Olive Ridley, plus our rehabilitating juveniles: 2 Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and 2 Hawksbills.

On 18 November, we waved a fond farewell to two of our green turtle juveniles, Dexter and Wiiss, who were successfully released from Kuda Huraa beach.

Green turtle juveniles release (Dexter & Wiiss) Maldives

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

During November, we received 18 submissions of photo sets from the public to our Sea Turtle ID project. Our current database catalogues 5,150+ photographic sightings, and to date has positively identified and named a total of: 1315 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

Turtle ID Maldives photo submissions Hawksbill male

Flying Turtles

On 15 November, our partners from Sea Life (Loch Lomond, Scotland) arrived at Kuda Huraa to meet our unreleasable Olive Ridley patient, ‘April’ and accompany her to a new permanent aquarium home overseas. We introduced the Sea Life team to our various turtle and coral projects, and they documented their visit and entire journey with photo and video diaries.

April box turtle rescue centre Kuda Huraa Maldives
April new home SEA LIFE Loch Lomond
Junior Marine Savers activities

Further News & Updates

You might also be interested in:
– our Dolphin ID Project,
– our unique Sea Turtle Lagoon Enclosure, and
– our Zooplankton Monitoring Project (new in 2021). 

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

Our Unreleasable Turtle Residents

Our Current Turtle Patients

Our Juvenile Turtle Patients

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Turtle rescue and rehabilitation Centre at Kuda Huraa Maldives