Marine Savers manta rays Maldives

Manta season at Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, Maldives – join the “Manta On Call” at Landaa Giraavaru!

Erin's Monthly Marine Musings

September was so full of activity… from large presentations to local island visits, from countless egg-laden coral colonies to a massive renovation of our entire Marine Discovery Centre… we didn’t have a spare second to come up for breath! Luckily, we are a bunch of all-rounders, able to sub for each other in excursions and scientific projects, so the upcoming coral spawning season will be all hands on the reef, day and night!

  • Dive deep into the ocean, and you will find that the greatest treasures you find are the illusions you leave behind. — Christopher Pike

Fish Lab & Aquaria – Marine Life in the Maldives

Marine Discovery Centre at Landaa Giraavaru Maldives

Our ‘Marine Discovery Centre’ at Landaa Giraavaru

Thanks to some recent reef relocation work, we have two new additions to the Fish Lab this month. Both specimens emerged from our coral frames, and were too small to be released back onto the reef, so we will raise them to maturity.

  • Juvenile white-mouth moray (Gymnothorax meleagris) – still quite shy, but eating healthily on our live food.
  • Juvenile peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) – settled in very well, spending time in a flowerpot burrow and coming out to eat. She is very happy snacking on clams, and will rip open the shells to get at the meat inside.

Plankton Production

  • Algae supply remains good on a consistent and successful cycle.
  • Artemia production is keeping up with the demand of the main tank at 6g of cysts per day, and we have increased our grow-out of adult Artemia to meet increased demands from our new Fish Lab residents.
  • Rotifer population is maintaining at a consistent level.

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

All jellies are healthy and growing well. The spare parts have arrived for the UV steriliser, so we will soon discover if this improves the overall health of the system.

Zooplankton Survey Study

As part of our Zooplankton Survey, we are continuing our training with the Manta Trust, preparing samples and analysing water quality. There was a large phytoplankton bloom in Hanifaru this month, and water quality analysis was used to monitor the changes (and to ensure that our protocols are effective).

Ornamental Fish Breeding

Shrimp breeding Maldives Marine Savers
  • Clark’s clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) – There were two spawning events in September, but the parents ate all the eggs prior to hatching.
  • Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) – No spawning events this month.
  • Sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis) – Three successful egg clutches were collected this month. Our larvae numbers totalled 800 for this month, mostly at development stages 1-3, with 23 individuals in the final stage. The juvenile shrimps have been reunited with the adult colony and are growing rapidly. As they approach 150 days old, they are now becoming reproductively viable, and some have started to show signs of pairing with our available adult females (genetically unrelated). As they develop further, we may separate the colony into two tanks to increase our production while maintaining genetic diversity.
  • Boxer shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) – The pair produced two clutches this month, however, due to space limitations we were only able to collect one clutch. We are continuing to monitor the patterns in spawning of this species, which has settled into a consistent cycle. We are recording the changes in behaviour and colouration, to identify the mating and spawning signals. So far, we identified the development of the ovary prior to mating, and hope to observe the full mating process including gamete transfer in the coming months.
  • Camel shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis) – On 16 September, we successfully hatched and collected 175 larvae for rearing. By Day 15, the remaining 144 larvae are in development stage 3-4, with development of the telson and uropods along with banding pigments in the tail and carapace. Little is known about the larval development stages of this species, but they are thought to reach the decapoid stage by Day 60, which fits with the timeline we have observed so far.
    This marks the second successful collection for this species, and the first as a result of captive mating. Currently, both females are brooding eggs, which is a good indicator that our tank conditions and broodstock management are highly conducive to breeding this species successfully.
    Interestingly, this species has the shortest gestation period post-mating, at only 10 days.
  • Marbled shrimp (Saron marmoratus) – On 12 September, we had our first successful hatching and collection from this species. The female has since spawned again, and is brooding eggs expected to hatch in the middle of October, following a 12-day gestation period.
    The larvae produced are very large and show an unusual carapace formation compared to the other species we have observed. The carapace extends over the legs and shows a clear and prominent pterygostomian spine at stage 1, which isn’t observed in the other species to this extent until stage 2-3.
R.durbanensis larva stage 3 pigment bands

R.durbanensis larva (stage 3 pigment bands)

S. marmoratus larva pterygostomian spine

S. marmoratus larva (pterygostomian spine)

R.durbanensis larva stage 3 uropod development

S. marmoratus larva (pterygostomian spine)

Marine Discovery Centre Updates

Centre Redesign

At Kuda Huraa, we are redesigning our Marine Discovery Centre and expanding the facilities! Work is well under way to revamp our presentation room, updating educational materials with more visual content that is both interactive and engaging.

In addition, we have been shifting away from traditional PowerPoint presentations towards a more immersive educational experience. We are setting up automated welcome reels for visitors, with succinct content to introduce impactful conservation topics.

We have also been making a new promo video for the Resort, covering all our conservation projects from reef regeneration to turtle rehabilitation, and from marine aquaculture to educational outreach.

Bat Updates 🦇

Moosa and Kika are both thriving.

  • Moosa’s flying abilities have continued to develop and he is now an independent juvenile. Although he is now finding food for himself, he still returns to hang out with Kika to rest and to find extra snacks.
  • Kika continues to grow and develop; she has recently become very active and has been practising her flying. She still has a way to go before independence, but she seems content for now.
Rearing fruit bat baby orphans Maldives Marine Savers

Moosa and Kika just hanging out 🦇

Education & Outreach

World Clean-up Day 17 September

Our colleagues from the Resort and our neighbours from the local island of Huraa combined forces to stage a massive volunteer clean-up across the whole of Huraa Island (North Male Atoll). Hundreds of kilograms of rubbish were collected for safe disposal, and plastic bottles were sent to Parley for processing and recycling. A big THANK YOU to all the 80+ enthusiastic volunteers who took part! 💪

GM Forum 15 September

Our Marine Savers team were invited to join the sixth annual “GM Forum”, hosted by Hotelier Maldives at Kurumba Resort on 15 September. The event attracted representatives from 40 resorts/hotels, along with almost 100 industry leaders and tourism experts. Everyone enjoyed the valuable networking opportunities, along with ample time to share business challenges and innovations.

Our Reefscapers coral experts, Ale and Erin, enjoyed presenting our reef regeneration programs to a diverse audience from across the Maldives, encompassing everything from coral propagation techniques to the warming oceans.

After the series of presentations and panel debates wrapped up, the event concluded with cocktails and informal discussions.

Local Outreach to Omadhoo (Ari Atoll) 16-20 September

A five-day trip was planned to Ari Atoll, to meet with school children and engage with local environmental groups. For this exciting outreach opportunity, we collaborated with colleagues at the Manta Trust, and joined forces with Scuba Inn, and Drift Divers Maldives.

The aim was to empower female science students, so we held beginners’ lessons in snorkelling and scuba, and spent long days in the lagoon, ending with an exciting night snorkel! Back in the classroom, we taught students the fundamentals of Manta ID, sea turtle ID, coral biology/propagation, shark science, and much more!

Marine Savers Ari Atoll outreach [@kam_sol]

Erin and Kamila [@kam_sol]

Marine Savers Ari Atoll outreach [@kam_sol]

Erin & Maesha [Manta Trust]

Maldives Sea Turtle Rescue & Conservation

Saving sea turtles in the Maldives (video with Kat)

Our resident turtle veterinarian, Kat, being interviewed for Portuguese TV (click to play in new tab)

Sea Turtle Rehabilitation

At the close of September, 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, our amputee Olive Ridley patient. She is enjoying the occasional purple crown jellyfish and her sea swims in the lagoon.
We have created a new buoyancy therapy program, with the hopes of re-enabling her diving abilities. We are recording her buoyancy levels and diving abilities (while feeding), and will soon add weights.

Flying Turtle Program

We recently met with the EPA and veterinarians working around the country, to discuss new national guidelines and legislation for the care of sick and injured sea turtles found in the Maldives. The upcoming legislation will result in standardised welfare at turtle rehabilitation centres, with additional guidelines for ‘Flying Turtles’.

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

During September, from the 6 new photo sets submitted by the public this month, we were able to add 4 new individuals to our national turtle database, and confirmed resightings of 1 named turtle already in our database.

Our current database now has uniquely identified totals of:
1367 Hawksbills, 288 Greens and 96 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 September, we transplanted 39 new coral frames (using 2674 coral fragments), kindly sponsored by guests (27), the Resort (10), and online (two). In addition, we monitored (cleaned, repaired, photographed) a further 628 frames around the island.
At Kuda Huraa this month, we transplanted ten new coral frames, sponsor by guests (five), the Resort (three) and online (two).

We are continuing our new experiment to study sustainable alternatives to plastic cable ties – follow our research updates over at Reefscapers.

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 monitoring Kuda Huraa Maldives turtle
Reefscapers coral reef maintenance

Baa Atoll Biosphere Coral Project

In partnership with local councils and fellow resorts in Baa Atoll, we were invited to take part in an atoll-wide coral restoration program for the local schools. This exciting project aims to educate school children on coral restoration work, and allows them to maintain their own coral ‘frame’ while collecting environmental data on survivorship, mortality, bleaching and growth rates. As part of the wider team, we visited a total of 13 different schools in Baa Atoll across two days.

Media Group

This month, we held informative and engaging interviews and frame-building sessions, to explain the methods and successes of our coral propagation program.

  • the ‘Earth Journalism Network’ that “enables journalists from developing countries to cover the environment more effectively”, and
  • the ‘Bertarelli Foundation’ that “provides a global leadership in promoting marine conservation and science”.

Sophy Tours & Tanzanian Hotels – Ungana na sophia kessy katika Makala hii inayoangazia uhifadhi wa bahari na teknolojia hiyo mpya

Kenya Ramogi TV – Lokruok mar kor lwasi tieko rech e nam. #angichwelo Ochieng Emmanuel Symphrose Okinda

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