Marine Savers marine biology internship KELLY with Erin

My morning commute! 💙

Hello again! I am finishing up my internship here in the Maldives, and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. After my first month (Chapter #1), things started to become familiar and comfortable, and Kuda Huraa felt like home. The weather improved and the seas calmed, which meant more snorkels and underwater time. My days are spent monitoring and building coral frames, helping take care of Ari the turtle, leading snorkel trips, and giving guest presentations.

We had an exciting start to September, with a new turtle arrival – a young hawksbill hatchling named Buddy. Buddy arrived in a small box from a local island just north of Kuda Huraa. (Buddy was too young to sex, so we used “they” pronouns). After removing parasites from the carapace, we placed Buddy in a tank and monitored them for two weeks. It was soon clear that Buddy was well-rested and ready to take on the world, so we released them on a dolphin cruise and said farewell! It was sad to see Buddy go, but we all have high hopes for the little guy.

Marine Savers marine biology internship KELLY (buddy the turtle)

Juvenile Hawksbill turtle ‘Buddy’ recovering in our pools

Marine Savers marine biology internship KELLY with Ari

Lagoon swim with Olive Ridley turtle ‘Ari’

During office time, I started researching sea turtle buoyancy syndrome. My goal was to create a plan to help regulate Ari’s buoyancy, as well as create a general document on buoyancy syndrome for other turtles we may receive in the future. After weeks of scouring the internet, reading multiple papers on sea turtle buoyancy, and reaching out to other turtle rehabilitation centres worldwide, things started to come together.

An effective turtle rehabilitation plan includes diving practise (encouraged at feeding times), weight therapy, and regularly monitoring buoyancy levels. To date, we have attempted some diving practise and taken initial buoyancy photos. Hopefully in the next few weeks we will begin some weight therapy. Overall, Ari is responding well, and I was happy to join her on a sea swim… one of my most memorable experiences here to date.

Marine Savers marine biology internship KELLY with Ari

Ari is responding well to her rehabilitation sea swims … a memorable experience.

The other big project during my final weeks was the monitoring of our relocated rescue corals, transplanted last year from a large government dredging site. We spent a week snorkelling and diving to monitor over 3,000 coral colonies, recording whether they were alive, partially alive, or dead, along with the cause of any decay. Most of the corals continue to be healthy, and some have even been spotted with developing eggs.

I am lucky to be here during coral spawning season, so we have been conducting regular night snorkels since the Full Moon, recording data from our coral frames and the natural reefs around the island, in the hope of collecting some coral spawn.

Marine Savers marine biology internship KELLY (monitoring)

Coral monitoring – we repair, clean, and photograph our Reefscapers coral frames every 6 months

I have spent my days off diving, seeing manta rays, sharks, turtles, and more unicorn fish than I can count. And, thanks to the efforts and patience of the Tropicsurf crew and the new trainees, I can safely say that my surfing ability has substantially increased!

As I near the end of my internship, I can’t believe what a dream it has been. It’s not often you get to spend three months in the Maldives, treating turtles, monitoring corals, and spending your days snorkelling and surfing in crystal clear lagoons, all with the most amazing group of people. It will be hard to say goodbye, but it was truly an experience of a lifetime.

Until next time
x 💙