Erin's Monthly Marine Musings
We’ve had an exhilarating month: corals spawning, sea turtle surgery, renovations to our Centre, spinning dolphins and sharks galore! No two days are the same, and elements of the unknown are the most captivating parts of the job, along with our underwater work for calming the mind and soothing the soul. Onward and upward!
- My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Fish Lab & Aquaria – Marine Life in the Maldives
At the start of the month, we released the juvenile white-mouth moray (Gymnothorax meleagris) that had grown to a good size; we took her out to the reef, where she quickly found a new home in a burrow on the House Reef.
Algae supply remains consistent on our current successful cycle.
Artemia production is keeping up with the demands of the main tank, at 6g of cysts a day. We have ordered two new brands of cysts to test in the coming months. Due to demands from our new Fish Lab individuals we have increased our grow-out volume for adult Artemia.
We have increased our rotifer harvesting to keep up with the demands of the shrimp larvae, and after a brief dip, volumes have now increased again to satisfactory levels.
Fish Lab Protocols
The temperature in our Fish Lab has been increased to a more suitable temperature for the larvae, and a small amount of freshwater is added during water changes to control contaminants like ciliates.
We plan to trial several new protocols in the coming months.
- A bottom-draining system will circulate water within our display tanks, before flowing to the Kreisels. This will improve water quality management (it currently takes two hours to complete the larvae water changes).
- To improve known knowledge gaps, we plan to focus our research and breeding efforts on just three shrimp species (T. amboinensis, L. amboinensis, R. durbanensis). We will continue to observe and track our other species to improve protocols and for general study purposes.
Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita
This month, we installed a new UV-steriliser in the main display Kreisel cylinder, and deep-cleaned the filtration system. All jellyfish are doing well.
Zooplankton Survey Study
A new plankton net is being trialled, as part of our Zooplankton Survey, and we continue our training on sample preparation and water quality analysis, in conjunction with The Manta Trust.
Our ‘Marine Discovery Centre’ at Landaa Giraavaru
Ornamental Fish Breeding
- Clark’s clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) – There were three spawning, but the eggs were eaten by the parents prior to hatching.
- Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) – No spawning events this month.
- Sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis) – One clutch was collected this month, yielding 500 baby shrimps. Three juveniles are now in the final stages of development, and have been relocated to a large bucket (a stimulus will be introduced to induce settlement). One of the young juveniles has gone through a sex change and is now a reproductively mature female, with the potential to breed in the coming weeks.
- Boxer shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) – The September clutch was doing well until Day-17, when contamination by ciliates caused increasing mortalities. The source of contamination was found to be the algal culture used to feed the larvae. On 25 October, a new clutch was hatched and is doing well.
- Camel shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis) – The September clutch has four larvae in the final stages of development (Day-46), clearly visible to the naked eye, and exhibiting long antennae.
- Marbled shrimp (Saron marmoratus) – The September clutch were unfortunately lost, but the female is currently brooding eggs again (showing the conditions are suitable for reproduction).
- Mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) – Now fully settled into the tank, this individual is hunting live food like Artemia and small crabs (caught on the beach), using her impressive club-like appendages to break them apart.
- Donald Duck shrimp (Leander plumosus) – Two new specimens this month. Named after their large rostrum, that looks like a duck’s bill.
- Zebra mantis shrimp (Lysiosquillina maculate) – New this month. We collected mixed samples of larvae from the water column, for lab-rearing. We think this includes four Zebra mantis shrimp juveniles, which we will continue to grow out.
- Skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) – After introducing a partner, they paired and reproduced very quickly. This species is fascinating as they are simultaneous hermaphrodites, meaning both partners are able to fertilise and brood eggs, often at the same time. From the two clutches this month, 263 are at Day-3, and three shrimps are at Day-18. This species develops very quickly, reaching stage 5/6 in only 18 days, as shown by the fully developed uropods and telson structure. They also have pincer claws visible to the naked eye. [SEE PHOTOS]
Marine Discovery Centre Updates
We are continuing the redevelopment of our Marine Discovery Centre at Kuda Huraa! We are updating our educational materials to increase the interactive visual elements, and to create a more immersive visual understanding of our marine conservation projects.
Bat Updates 🦇
- Moosa is now fully independent and is foraging around the island. He has been spotted a couple of times this month, but has now stopped returning to us for extra food. We are delighted that he has gained all the necessary skills to survive on his own in the wild.
- Kika continues to be healthy and active, however, her flying skills still need developing before she can survive on her own.
Moosa and Kika just hanging out 🦇
Education & Outreach
Eydhafushi School Visit
On 30 October, we hosted 14 school children from Eydhafushi (Baa Atoll) for a tour of our Marine Discovery Centre, and a hands-on coral frame building session. This was an informative and educational event, where the students learnt about our marine conservation projects.
Velidhoo School Outreach
In partnership with the Manta Trust and Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru, we took part in a marine education and awareness program for over 50 school students of Noonu Atoll Education Centre, based on the local island of Velidhoo. This full day consisted of marine awareness presentations, and coral frame building activities. We also conducted a session underwater, and for many of the students, it was their first time snorkelling. It was an enjoyable experience for our team, to share the students’ excitement at seeing such diverse marine creatures living on the house reef around their island.
Special thanks to Velidhoo council and N.A.E.C management team for the smooth running of this event (and for the fab photos)
Maldives Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation
Steps to Take If You Find an Injured Sea Turtle > Turtle Rescue Hotline: +960 988 7853
If you find a sea turtle entangled in a fishing net, or floating on the ocean surface, here are some practical tips to follow in our video, from our resident veterinarian Dr Katrina.
In the Maldives, you can call our Hotline for guidance from our turtle experts > https://marinesavers.com/hotline/
Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program
During October, from the 21 new photo sets submitted by the public this month, we were able to add 8 new individuals to our national turtle database, and confirmed resightings of 9 named turtle already in our database.
Our current database now has uniquely identified totals of:
1372 Hawksbills, 293 Greens and 97 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
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.
Sea Turtle Rehabilitation
At the close of October, we were caring for three Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea), one Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and zero Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in our Rehabilitation Centre at Landaa.
Pepe was our new arrival this month, a juvenile Olive Ridley turtle with buoyancy syndrome, who was transferred from another turtle rescue centre. She was relocated to our lagoon enclosure, where we hope the extra space and reduced human contact will increase the speed of her recovery. [see Instagram video]
At Kuda Huraa, we admitted Emma this month, who was found injured and floating on the ocean surface. She required surgery from our resident veterinarian, to close up a serious wound left by an amputated flipper injury.
Emma is eating prawns and is full of energy, so we hope she will soon be fit for release back into the ocean.
Vaavoshi Turtle Festival
On 29 October, we participated in the Vaavoshi Turtle Festival, hosted by the Olive Ridley Project on the local island of Huraa, North Male Atoll.
We gave a presentation about our turtle and coral conservation work, and then spent an enjoyable afternoon judging sand sculptures and poster designs, and holding an environmental debate with local students.
It was an excellent opportunity to continue our outreach efforts, building relations with the local community and educating school children.
REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation & Reef Restoration in the Maldives
At Kuda Huraa during October, we transplanted 9 new coral frames, sponsor by guests (3), the Resort (5) and online (1).
At Landaa this month, we transplanted 33 new coral frames kindly sponsored by guests (14), and the Resort (19), using a total of 1744 coral fragments. In addition, we monitored (cleaned, repaired, photographed) a further 465 frames around the island.
5000th Coral Frame! At the start of this month, we were happy to celebrate our 5000th Coral Frame here at Landaa Giraavaru! We hosted an event on Maldives Tourism Day for staff and guests to learn more about our coral restoration project and to help build the commemorative frame… an exciting milestone in our Reefscapers coral propagation program!
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.
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.