Reefscapers coral rescue Maldives (hanging basket) lionfish

Erin's Monthly Marine Musings

We’ve been trying to focus on the bigger picture lately, and it’s not always easy. We find ourselves getting caught up in our day-to-tasks, and just like an ocean dive with poor visibility, it becomes hard to focus on what you and your buddy are about to encounter.
They say we overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. So, we touch base with our “Legacy List” – the things that can really make a powerful impact on the ocean itself.
Our team works well together within the larger Reefscapers and Four Seasons families, because we all have the same ability to get work done in both the office and the ocean, recognising that some days will have calm waters and some days there might be sudden swells!
As always, we will keep riding out the waves in the weeks ahead… we are eager to sight more whales; keen for the corals survive in their new home; and excitedly anticipating Ari’s diving improvements.

“Just as a wave is a movement of the whole ocean, you are the energy of the cosmos.
Don’t underestimate your power.”
– Deepak Chopra

Fish Lab & Aquaria – Marine Life in the Maldives

Fish Lab Marine Savers Maldives lionfish

Lionfish resident in our Fish Lab at Landaa Giraavaru

Fish Lab Marine Savers Maldives frogfish

Frogfish in our Fish Lab

Fish Lab & Aquaria

We have started a new propagating trial of Mushroom coral (Fungia spp.) through the formation of anthocauli. The process involved creating a line in the coral tissue, running along septa from the mouth to skeleton edge. This will cause the tissue to retreat, and form ‘buds’ known as anthocauli that will develop into new corals, and ultimately separate from the parent after approximately four months.

Large Aquarium

At the start of April, we added several new specimens to our main aquarium, including:

  • Cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)
  • Tubeworm blenny (Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos)
  • Smiths venomous blenny (Meiacanthus smithi)
  • Long-nose butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus)
  • Saddled pufferfish (Canthigaster valentini)

Plankton Production

Plankton production remains consistent. Rotifer populations were stable throughout the month, with an increase in numbers in the last week to keep pace with larval demands. Following our trials with rearing Artemia on a scaled-back algae supply, we are seeing sustainable growth with one 20L indoor bucket and one 100L outdoor bucket, fed on part Nanno360 and part diatoms (Thalassiosira weissflogii).

Zooplankton Survey Study

We have restarted our Zooplankton Survey, practising plankton tows out in the lagoon, and processing the samples we have collected.

Fish Lab Marine Savers Maldives corals

Corals in our large marine aquarium

Fish Lab Marine Savers Maldives corals

Corals in our large marine aquarium

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

Strobilation was observed on 14 April, and the first ephyra removed for grow out the following day. A total of 637 ephyra were produced before the strobilation was stopped on 19 April. During strobilation, water changes occurred every other day; now in the grow-out phase, we are changing the water each afternoon. By the end of April, all ephyra had started to form the bell of the medusoid phase.

This month, our main display Kreisel cylinder was emptied, cleaned, and restocked with a total of 127 jellyfish. As these were full-sized specimens, we also removed the mesh grating covering the outflow to improve water movement.

Ornamental Fish Breeding

  • Common clownfish [Australia] (Amphiprion ocellaris) – our juveniles continue to do well, and have begun to show hosting behaviour in the anemone offered to them. The pair in Tank #11 have slowed to one small clutch of eggs per month, since being taken off the special breeding diet.
  • Clark’s clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) – our tank #3 breeding pair have had some success, with two clutches surviving to the final day of gestation. Only half the clutches hatched, and the larvae were weak. We collected 34 larvae from the latest clutch (22/04/22), with only 12 still surviving after one week.
  • Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) – our breeding pair in the main aquarium continue to lay following the spawning patterns presented in March, but we have been unable to collect them due to the tight location. (As a result, we are designing a new collection device). The single juvenile from February has now reached the size to join the fake ‘anemone’, although strangely, it prefers the ‘anemone’ in a floating position rather than anchored to the bottom.
  • Sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis) – the clutch hatched on 30 March resulted in 300 juveniles, which were maintained over 28 days in a 10L Kreisel system. By the end of April, we had 115 shrimp in their final larval stages of development, relocated to a traditional tank to allow settlement and metamorphosis into the final decapodid life cycle stage. We photographed the juveniles at regular intervals, to study larval development through the formation of eye stalks and colour pigmentation.
Fish lab Thor amboinensis larva development

Larval development of Thor amboinensis (Landaa’s Fish Lab)

Small Marine Aquaria

The resident corals in both aquaria continue to be healthy overall, and do not show signs of stress due to the seasonally elevated water temperatures (water flows in directly from the lagoon).

Aquarium One

Large amounts of cyanobacteria must be removed regularly before they start to impact growth of the corals.

  • Mini coral frame – healthy growth of fragments: Acropora digitifera, A. nasuta, A. valida.
  • Sea star (Linckia multifora) – presents mild infection in one leg, which has shortened in length.

Aquarium Two

  • Mini coral frame – healthy growth of fragments: Acropora hyacinthus.
  • Clark’s clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) – changed colour as it grows and develops.
Aquarium Amphiprion clarkii colour change

As the Clark’s Clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) maturues, it changes colour from orange to black

Aquarium seastar infection
Sea star (Linckia multifora) – presents mild infection in one leg, which has shortened in length

Maldives Sea Turtle Rescue & Conservation

Sea Turtle Rehabilitation

At the close of April, in our Rehabilitation Centre at Landaa, we were caring for:
– three Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), one Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), one Green turtle (Chelonia mydas).
See the corkboard (bottom of page) for more details of the turtles’ rescues and subsequent treatments.

At our Turtle Rescue Centre at Kuda Huraa, we continue to care for Ari, our unreleasable (double-amputee) Olive Ridley turtle, from Landaa. She is eating well, her buoyancy appears to be improving, and she enjoys regular swims in the lagoon.

Sea Turtle Enclosure

The new shade for our ocean enclosure has finally arrived, and was successfully installed in early April. Artemis has just returned from a short period in the enclosure, and Maw is now taking a turn. Due to permanent injury (missing a vital front flipper), Maw can never be released back into the wild, but the enclosure is a good opportunity to stretch her remaining flippers. Maw was very excited to be introduced to the enclosure, and immediately started eating sea grass.

Turtle Nest Protection

On 16 March, we helped the Environment Ministry to relocate a Green turtle nest from a small beach in busy Malé city, to a new home on the perfect ‘Secret Beach’ at Kuda Huraa. We are monitoring the nest each day, and have installed fencing and burlap fabric for protection. We hope to see some hatchlings emerging from the sand around 15 May … see our next monthly report!

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

During April, we received 13 submissions of photo sets from the public to our Sea Turtle ID project (eleven different Hawksbills plus two Green turtles).
Our current database now catalogues 5,200 separate sightings, across 16 different atolls of the Maldives. To date, we have positively identified and named a total of: 1342 Hawksbills, 281 Greens and 95 Olive Ridleys.

We have started trialling a new recognition software that uses the Citizen Science Wildbook ‘Internet of Turtles’. Photos of individuals that are not recognised using I3S software were added to this database to search the wider local network for a match. The trial also involves comparing the recognition success rate of I3S verses IoT using individuals with multiple images that have been sighted many different times. The trial is being conducted with the goal to establish one database for the whole of the Maldives’ turtle population.

Spotted a turtle?  Share your photos

Turtle ID Maldives photo submissions Hawksbill male

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.

REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation & Reef Restoration in the Maldives

Reefscapers coral rescue Maldives (hanging basket) maintenance

Monthly Progress

During April at Kuda Huraa, we transplanted nine new coral frames, recycled four frames (for Junior Marine Savers activities), and transplanted 23 old frames with large rescue coral colonies. This month’s coral propagation work used 2000 coral fragments.
As part of the Gulhifalhu mass coral rescue project, 11 people spent 525 man-hours underwater, relocating and impressive 10,000 coral colonies. We retransplanted 400 old frames around the island, and added some colonies directly to the natural reef.

At Landaa this month, we added 3300 coral fragments to the reef, transplanted onto 47 new coral frames. We also monitored 434 coral frames around the island, cleaning and repairing them where necessary, and sending out updated photographs to our valued sponsors.

Read our Reefscapers Diaries for further details and photographs of our ongoing coral propagation efforts and reef regeneration experiments, both in the Lab and out in the lagoon, updated each month. You may also be interested in our ongoing research and photography, studying coral spawning.

Reefscapers coral rescue Maldives (hanging basket)

Coral rescue – storing relocated coral colonies for future transplanting

Junior Marine Savers activities

Further News & Updates

You might also be interested in:
– our ongoing Dolphin ID Project,
– our unique Sea Turtle Lagoon Enclosure, and
– our Zooplankton Monitoring Project (launched 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 juveniles.

Junior Marine Savers activities