Marine aquaculture Maldives Fish Lab - Helen

Studying development of anemonefish eggs in our Fish Lab at Landaa Giraavaru

Hello, I’m Helen and I am the new Aquarist for Reefscapers at Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru. After being stuck in the UK during the pandemic, coming to the Maldives to spend every day in the sea and sunshine was an absolute dream! This meant I could be surrounded by amazing marine life, both out in the open ocean and among our marine aquaria and breeding tanks down in the Fish Lab.

Clownfish eggs Marine Savers Maldives

Developing anemonefish eggs (close-up) in our fish-breeding tanks

Working within the Fish Lab and taking care of all the different species – from plankton and tiny fish larvae to our anemonefish and jellyfish – every species has unique requirements, making each day very different. Life gets a lot busier around hatching time, meaning longer days to collect the larvae overnight. It’s really cool being in the Lab at night time, as the animals all move and react differently than during normal office hours.

Marine aquaculture Maldives Fish Lab - triggerfish

Picasso triggerfish in our large (4000L) display aquarium

It’s very interesting as I get to grips with the Fish Lab systems and protocols, especially the culturing cycles for our rotifer and algae populations, and how the fish specimens have their own personalities, like the Picasso triggerfish and our resident lobster.

Marine aquaculture Maldives Fish Lab - triggerfish

Our Fish Lab breeding tanks

One of the great things about working in a small team like this is that everyone helps out with all the different projects. As a result, I get to assist with both the coral propagation work and the turtle care, and it’s really interesting to see how the different aspects of each conservation project work together to support the whole marine ecosystem.

Seahorses - food chain infographic

Food chain in the Fish Lab – we grow algae, rotifers and Artemia to feed our seahorses and juvenile fish

Alongside my Fish Lab work, I also teach guests about marine ecosystems and conservation, and help with the guest excursions (such as the guided snorkel safari and dolphin cruise). This aspect of my job is very enjoyable as I get to be out on the ocean, and I love sharing the guest experiences as we encounter some amazing marine life. So many guests come away thrilled about seeing dolphins and turtles for the first time in the wild, and I dispel any nerves when it comes to encountering sharks on the reef.

Marine life Maldives wild turtle on the reef

Wild Hawksbill turtle on the reef – a favourite sight on every snorkel trip!

One of my favourite experiences has been watching the coral spawning, getting to see the egg bundles floating like upside-down snow was really cool. While living at Landaa, I’m looking forward to experiencing a trip to Hanifaru Bay during manta season, as well as continuing to share all our local wildlife with visitors from around the world.

See you in the Fish Lab
Helen 🐠

Helen Waghorne

Helen Waghorne

Marine Aquarist

Growing up in Singapore, Helen fell in love with the wonders of the ocean at a young age and began diving as often as possible, earning her SSI Divemaster in the USA. She went on to complete an Integrated Masters (MSci) in Marine Biology at the University of Southampton (UK), focusing on tropical marine biology. While at university she participated in internships, workshops and volunteer programs in Ireland, Malaysia, Bermuda, the Maldives and back home in the UK, covering a wide range of topics. She also worked in guest experience within the aquarium industry, and after graduating moved into animal care as an Aquarist.
Helen is excited to join the team at Landaa (in November 2021) to continue and expand the Fish Lab project and zooplankton surveys, while bringing the joys of the marine world to the resort guests.

Spinner dolphins Kuda Huraa Maldives

Spinner dolphins leaping from the water alongside our boat – always a thrilling experience!