Rearing fruit bat baby orphans Maldives Marine Savers

Psst… Wanna join me in the upside down ? 🦇

Erin's Monthly Marine Musings

Water. Deep water. Infinitely deep water of the primordial ocean, where everything is possible.
— Paulo Coelho, Inspirations: Selections from Classic Literature

Another month has gone in the blink of an eye, and we can check off a few more items from our to-do list. July was rainy and windy, but we accomplished a lot: from training new apprentices to frame formations; hatchling expeditions to local outreach, and more!
As we focus on fostering new connections, we’re convinced that with faith, just about everything is possible… and hope we can inspire you to believe that, too. 🙏

Fish Lab & Aquaria – Life in the Maldives

Large Marine Aquarium

During July, several of the new corals bleached and died. This included the orange Tubastraea (maybe due to competition, or insufficient feeding) although interestingly the black Tubastraea appears healthy and is feeding well. We also observed some predation by the Moon Wrasse on smaller species, and so we have adjusted the food mix.

Plankton Production

Algae supply remains on a consistent and successful cycle. Artemia production is keeping up with the demand of the main tank, at 6g of cysts a day. Rotifer population has recovered and remains stable, despite the high demand from the large numbers of fish and shrimp larvae in our Fish Lab.

Zooplankton Survey Study

As part of our Zooplankton Survey, our new water quality testing and monitoring kits have arrived, and we have been creating a weekly water quality datasheet of our House Reef lagoon.

🦇 The MDC Goes Batty! 🦇

Our two baby fruit bats have been with us since the middle of June. Both are thriving and are getting bigger and stronger every day. We held a naming competition through Instagram and think they both really suit their new names, Kika and Moosa.

Both bats are now climbing around their home-made ‘jungle gym’ during the day, and spending their nights under cover to protect them from getting wet and cold. Moosa in particular has become very cheeky and has started to climb high into the nearby trees. Although neither has taken their first flight yet, both are working daily to strengthen their wings and are getting much stronger.

Ornamental Fish Breeding

  • Clark’s clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) – The breeding pair in tank #3 are producing eggs again, however, the resulting clutches are weak and are being eaten by their parents before they can hatch. Only a small number have successfully hatched, and those that did died shortly afterwards. The food supply will be increased, with more focus on fish paste and nutrient-loading to increase egg quality.
  • Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) – The breeding pair in the main tank continues to perform well, with a total of two spawning events this month. To facilitate egg-collection, we have now relocated the parents and their anemone to Tank #21 for easier access.
  • Banded pipefish (Corythoichthys haematopterus) – During July, we collected two male pipefish with brooding eggs in their ventral pouches. We identified their gestational development and managed to successfully collect larvae from both males.
    Pipefish (and seahorses) produce larvae that are fully formed miniature adults, which will not go through a metamorphosis. They are born fully independent plankton-feeders:
    – newborn seahorse mouth gape is only 210µm, so we have started their feed on rotifers;
    – at Day-7 (once the mouth gape becomes 500µm) we will transition to larger 12-hour Artemia.
    Unfortunately, around Day-5 there was a large die-off, despite good rates of feeding observed (but microscope imaging showed possible over-aeration of the swim bladder).
    This group of pipefish is monogamous, so it is unlikely that we will be able to pair these new males with our resident Fish Lab female. Even so, we will watch for regular greeting behaviours, as without daily greetings between mated pairs, there is the potential for recoupling (as observed in the wild).
  • Sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis) – The clutch produced by breeding female A at the start of May continue to do well; the juveniles have now grown into the ‘adult’ stage at Day-74, showing full colouration and the ‘wiggling’ that characterises this species. The seven largest shrimps have been transferred to display Tank #35 with a mushroom coral, for full grow-out before being united with the colony for pairing and future breeding.
    The clutch from female C has survived very well, with a total of 71 larvae (25%) reaching the final developmental stages 7-8. As a trial, a small amount of mushroom coral mucus is being introduced to these shrimps, in an attempt to speed up the settlement process.
    Our new Kreisel tanks (pictured, 2 x 17L, 1 x 25L) will increase our capacity for research into spawning, survival and development of this species.
  • Boxer shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) – The breeding pair have bonded well, with no aggression seen even during the reproductive period; their regular cycle consists of spawning/fertilisation (mid-month) followed by hatching 13 days later.
    Three of the larvae collected in June have survived to the final “juvenile” development stage.
    The pair reproduced again, with a total of 550 larvae hatching on 26 July, which were placed in our new 25L circular ephyra Kreisel to increase available space and reduce risks of predation at the later stages.

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

Jellyfish numbers remain good, and there is minimal shrinking in the specimens in our main Kreisel display tank (pictured).

Marine Biology apprenticeship Maldives corals
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 apprenticeship Maldives corals
Marine Biology apprenticeship Maldives corals

Maldives Sea Turtle Rescue & Conservation

Enjoy a short presentation by Katrina, our resident sea turtle veterinarian, explaining our conservation projects and research

Sea Turtle Rehabilitation

At the close of July, we were caring for two Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea), one Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and one Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in our Rehabilitation Centre at Landaa.

At Kuda Huraa, we continue to care for Ari (52.6cm, 18.4kg), our amputee Olive Ridley patient who has been eating lots of crabs this month, thanks to our Four Seasons apprentices. She is also enjoying the different types of enrichments in her tank, but due to bad weather she has not been for any ocean swims this month.

Artemis rescue Hawksbill turtle Maldives

Artemis – our female Hawksbill turtle patient

Frisbee male Olive Ridley rescue turtle Maldives

Frisbee – our male Olive Ridley rescue turtle

Flying Turtle Program

After contacting several aquariums over the last few months, we are delighted to have found one facility that is keen to accept all four of our current non-releasable patients (Frisbee, Maw, Ari, Artemis) as part of our ongoing Flying Turtle efforts. We have started work on all the paperwork required to transport these endangered species overseas; it’s a lengthy, multi-stage process with various stakeholders, and we are currently gathering the documents to support our CITES export permit.

Hatchling Release

On the morning of 28 July, our turtle team was invited to Club Med Finolhu to oversee a surprise Green turtle nest that had hatched overnight. A total of 62 hatchlings successfully made their way to the ocean; nine of the weakest hatchlings received a health check-up and were all deemed fit enough for immediate release.

Turtle nest protection Maldives

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

During July, from the nine new photo sets submitted by the public this month, we were able to add five new individuals to our national turtle database, and confirmed resightings of two named turtles already in our database.

Our current database now has uniquely identified totals of: 1360 Hawksbills, 287 Greens and 95 Olive Ridleys (from 5400 separate sightings, across 17 different atolls of the Maldives).

Photos of individual turtles that are not recognised using our I3S software are now being added to the Citizen Science Wildbook ‘Internet of Turtles’ to search the wider network for a match. We continue to compare recognition success rates (I3S verses IoT) for turtles with multiple sightings. The eventual goal is to combine our efforts with other centres, to establish a single database for the whole of the Maldives’ turtle population.

Spotted a turtle?  Share your photos

Turtle ID Maldives - unique facial scales

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

Monthly Progress

At Landaa during July, we transplanted 36 new coral frames (24 guest-sponsored, 11 Resort-sponsored, one online order) adding a total of 2400 coral fragments onto the reef. We also monitored (cleaned, repaired, photographed) 108 coral frames at various sites around the island. We continue to build our generous guest sponsorship (50 large frames), adding a further 13 frames to Mudikaashi Reef.

At Kuda Huraa this month, we transplanted 11 new coral frames (nine guest-sponsored, two Resort-sponsored). Additional coral work included monitoring and mapping at the House Reef, and extensive maintenance work in the Channel site by our apprentices.

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 monitoring coral bleaching Maldives
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 sponsor your own frame and see photographs (updated every 6 months) in our Coral Frame Collection.

Junior Marine Savers activities: (1) Reefscapers corals, (2) turtle care.

Junior Marine Savers children turtle care Maldives