BURRITA turtle release day Maldives

It’s a big day for Burrita … after 133 days of treatment at our turtle care centre, it’s time for release back into the ocean 💙

Fish Lab & Aquaria – Marine Life in the Maldives

This month, due to the external seasonally elevated sea temperatures, we experienced some small-scale bleaching in our main display aquarium. Water inflow was controlled to stop this, and system temperatures have been carefully monitored.

Plankton Production

  • Algae – consistently cycling, with just a slight drop in volume
  • Artemia – production is keeping up with the demand of the main tank at 5g of cysts a day. We have one 100L algae tub containing Artemia nauplii for grow-out, important for the new Fish Lab species that require adult Artemia.
  • Rotifers – volume maintained at consistent levels

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

All jellyfish in our large display Kreisel cylinder continue to thrive, with no signs of shrinkage. On 9 June, the strobilation produced a total of 589 ephyra; all are growing well in the small circular lab Kreisel, to be transferred to the larger storage tank once the bell has fully developed over the coming weeks.

Seaweed Mariculture

We are making progress with our experiments into seaweed mariculture (marine farming). To trial several different environmental parameters, we divided our initial starter culture of edible sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca):

  • external coral tanks – unsuccessful, likely due to insufficient light
  • indoor Fish Lab tanks – under the same lighting system as our microalgae culture. This worked for a few days, but became nutrient-depleted, leading to fragmentation
  • bucket of large culture pieces – with added F2P fertiliser – stabilised, and growing well
  • large circular Kreisel tank of fragments – with added F2P fertiliser – stabilised, and growing well
Reefscapers mariculture Maldives starter Ulva lactuca
Reefscapers mariculture Maldives starter Ulva lactuca
Reefscapers mariculture Maldives starter Ulva lactuca

Megafauna and Marine Life

At Landaa, a total of 228 guests joined 34 guided excursions during June month, including the ever-popular Dolphin Cruise, followed by the underwater Guided Adventure Snorkel.

At Kuda Huraa, 351 guests enjoyed our guided excursions this month, mainly the Dolphin Cruise and a series of Snorkel Adventures.

We have observed a decline in sightings of Hawksbill turtles this month. This might be explained by recent choppy sea conditions, altering turtle behaviours. By contrast, the sightings of manta rays have increased, and we have observed busy cleaning stations locally, as well as ‘mating train’ behaviours (the male ray imitates the actions of the female, to court her). Hulhumalé is still providing excellent megafauna sightings, with regular encounters with stingrays, tiger sharks, and some very large (but friendly) bull sharks.

Ornamental Shrimp Breeding

We have scaled back our fish-breeding to expand our more successful research on shrimp-breeding.

  • Sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis) – rearing is progressing well, with 249 pre-settlement larvae from our F1 generation, and 17 pre-settlement larvae from the second F2 generation. May’s settled F2 juveniles have now been transferred to a display tank, separate from the previous two generations (F0 and F1). So far, they appear to have acclimatised and are growing nicely. We will attempt our first F3 generation later in the year.
  • Boxer shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) – monitoring.
  • Camel shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis)monitoring.
  • Skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) monitoring.
  • Marbled shrimp (Saron marmoratus)monitoring.
Clownfish with anemone Maldives

Clownfish with anemone, photographed on the reef at Kuda Huraa

Maldives Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation

BURRITA turtle release day Maldives

It’s release day for Burrita!

Ocean Enclosure

This month, we completed the final cleaning dive for our ocean enclosure out in the lagoon at Landaa. With the enclosure now fully secure and clean of coral and algal growth, we transported Xanchi there for the final stage of his rehabilitation.

At the close of June, we were caring for 4 Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea), 1 Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and zero Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in our Rehabilitation Centre at Landaa – see Our Current Turtle Patients.

At Kuda Huraa, we’ve had a very busy month, successfully releasing and waving goodbye to the following turtles:

  • Nautica – transferred to Coco Palm for further diagnostics
  • Burrita – 6 June (World Sea Turtle Day); days in rehab = 133; weight gain = 2.2kg
  • Seakid – 21 June (with satellite tag); days in rehab = 145; weight gain = 3.2kg. Before Seakid was released, we fitted a ‘Spot-6’ back-mounted satellite tag from Wildlife Computers. The tracker was activated two days prior to release, for testing purposes, and to allow the GPS to calibrate for improved location accuracy. The tag will record GPS trajectory, days of transmission, immersion time, and distance travelled. The tag was attached the day before release, using the Wildlife Computers standard protocol (PDF manual).
    After a successful beach release, Seakid was waved off with a Bon Voyage by staff and guests alike. We can see from the GPS data (and our interactive map) that Seakid headed straight out of the Himmafushi channel, before returning via the Thulusdhoo channel. He remained inside the atoll for three days before continuing northwards.
SEAKID turtle release day Maldives satellite

Release day for Seakid, with a satellite tracking tag

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

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

Our current database now has uniquely identified totals of:
1411 Hawksbills, 305 Greens and 97 Olive Ridleys (from 5500+ separate sightings, across 17 different atolls of the Maldives).

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.

Spotted a turtle?  Share your photos

Turtle ID Maldives - unique facial scales

REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation & Reef Restoration in the Maldives

Reefscapers Maldives healthy coral frame

Monthly Progress

At Kuda Huraa during June, we created three new media frames, monitored 69 frames (at the Starfish and House Reef sites), and relocated 122 vulnerable frames from the Channel.

At Landaa this month, we transplanted 30 new coral frames, kindly sponsored by guests (17) and the Resort (13), adding almost 1,400 coral fragments onto the reef. In addition, we monitored (repaired, cleaned, photographed) a total of 307 coral frames at various sites around the island. We have also been lifting any buried frames out of the sand (that shifts around the island, carried by seasonal ocean currents).

Reefscapers and team beach cleanup
Reefscapers and team beach cleanup

For World Ocean Day, we organised a lagoon clean-up on the sunset side of Kuda Huraa, and started work on our seagrass relocation project. Meanwhile, our Coral Biologist visited Huruvalhi Island (Raa Atoll) to lead their World Ocean Day activities, with three days of activities including marine presentations to staff and guests, and a coral planting workshop (with the Dive and Water Sports teams).

To mark World Environment Day, we joined forces with the local community to clean the beaches around the island of (Bodu) Huraa. We also teamed up with the local school and the recycling company Parley, to bag up any discarded plastics for shipping to Malé for processing.

For World Reef Day, we organised a clean of the House Reef, to remove any marine debris that had drifted onto the reefs from the open ocean.

Reefscapers Guest frame at The Standard Maldives
Reefscapers and team beach cleanup

NOAA Bleaching Warnings

The Maldives (and oceans worldwide) have been experiencing seasonally warm sea surface temperatures (SST) these past few weeks.

This month, the waters surrounding Kuda Huraa were predicted to be in a “watch” state according to the forecast provided by NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch bleaching model. On 13 June, we entered a “no stress” state, as the water temperatures dropped, and the corals experienced less stress. In terms of degree heating weeks (DHW), a measure of accumulated heat stress within a 12-week period, the whole month of June was characterised by a measurement of +1 DHW.

Bleaching of corals at the Water Villas and House Reef was observed in June, following an extended period of high sea surface temperatures. Some frames were moved under the water villas and boardwalks to increase shading, and we have been monitoring to track recovery. With the onset of rainy season, we have observed re-uptake of zooxanthellae and deeper pigmentation of tissue for many colonies.

Reefscapers coral bleaching Maldives

Beautiful, but bleached corals are seen during prolonged periods of elevated sea surface temperatures, when the stressed corals expel their symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae). The effects of climate change is increasing the frequency of global coral bleaching events.

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.

Reefscapers coral pyramids maldives

Our coral pyramids at Kuda Huraa, made from large relocated rescue coral colonies

Junior Marine Savers activities

Further News & Updates

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

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