Marine Life Maldives - reef manta

Fish Lab & Aquaria – Marine Life in the Maldives

Plankton Production – Our plankton and algae cultures are used as the main food source for the residents of our Fish Lab.

– Algae – stable production this month, to feed our juvenile fish and shrimps
– Artemia – increased output to 6g of cysts hatched daily, to feed the new jellyfish batch
– Rotifers – stable, with average count of 425/ml (target 300/ml)

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

Our latest jellyfish brood has been growing well and has now graduated to the largest Kreisel tank in our Fish Lab. Here, we are experimenting with a new fine filter pump system, along with an extra bucket that allows for daily partial water change (20L) without the need to completely empty both tanks, saving considerable time. The feeding of this current batch of juveniles has been increased to achieve higher growth rates for transfer into the main jellyfish display tank.

Seaweed Mariculture – edible sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca)

Unfortunately, there have been delays in the delivery of the new batch of sea lettuce. Once this arrives in the coming weeks, we will continue to experiment with a variety of growing methods.

Groupers

On 4 November, we received a shipment of live grouper  fingerlings. These juvenile fish are being captive-bred by the MMRI in a government-run initiative in South Malé Atoll.
On arrival, the fish measured an average of 21.6cm length, 221g weight, and we hope to grow them on to adult size. The 75 fish were placed in our new outdoor tanks, with a constant high flow of filtered seawater.
The groupers are feeding well, and by the end of the month they had grown slightly to averages of 22.0cm/271g.

Fish Lab Food chain
Reefscapers grouper rearing Maldives

Grouper grow-out

Jellyfish rearing Kreisel tank Maldives

Jellyfish rearing Kreisel tank

Megafauna and Marine Life

The highlight during November was an afternoon Turtle Safari Snorkel, when we spotted a total of nine different hawksbill turtles on the reef! Underwater visibility was excellent this month (up to 50m on some days), allowing us to easily spot megafauna that included eagle rays, pink whiprays, blacktips, whitetips, spinner sharks, and a few tiger sharks. Our divers also had a treat, with seven large reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi) sighted out of season at a single cleaning station.

Ornamental Fish & Shrimp Breeding

Dancing shrimp (Thor amboinensis)

Our latest clutch of eggs hatched on 11 November, with 150 juveniles now transferred to our new-style rearing tank (with stone filter aeration and no flow) that is producing much faster growth rates.

Clark’s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii)

Our latest batch from 20 November has yielded 25 individuals that are now ready for metamorphosis at Day-12.
The 17 juveniles from our October batch are doing well, and have started actively hunting their zooplankton prey (Artemia).

Fish Lab Shrimp breeding cycle
Marine Life Maldives - Lionfish

Lionfish on the reef, Kuda Huraa

Marine aquarium torch coral Euphylia

Torch coral (Euphylia) in our marine aquarium, Landaa

Maldives Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation

New Admissions: Kanimaa and Donatello

On 22 November, we received a report of two sea turtles entangled in ghost netting, floating inside a lagoon in North Malé Atoll. Our turtle rescue team brought the stranded animals back to our Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at Kuda Huraa for urgent medical treatment. Special thanks to our Dive Team colleagues for their invaluable assistance in the rescue.

‘Ghost nets’ comprise of discarded and lost fishing gear, drifting for thousands of miles around the world’s oceans, and causing up to 10% of marine waste.

As the NE monsoon approaches the Maldives, with ocean currents flowing from east to west, more entangled Olive Ridley sea turtles drift into Maldivian waters from their breeding and foraging grounds in India, Sri Lanka, and the SE Asia region.

DONATELLO rescue Olive Ridley turtle care Maldives
KANIMAA rescue Olive Ridley turtle Maldives

Noonu’s Travels

On 21 October, Olive Ridley turtle patient Noonu was released back into the wild. Her satellite tag has been providing regular updates and appears to be functioning perfectly – see our interactive satellite map.

Noonu appears to have adapted extremely well to life back in the ocean and has been making significant progress. First, she headed north-easterly towards the southern tip of India, before turning and heading south along the continental shelf. She then continued the same trajectory for 200 km before making another change in direction towards Sri Lanka. Since Colombo, she followed the continental shelf northwards, and then headed back west into deeper water.

Noonu has now covered more than 1850km, and we are extremely pleased that her previous injuries don’t appear to be limiting her. This is a long distance to travel in a relatively short time period. The average distance swum by our previously tagged Olive Ridley turtles is just over 3000km, with the record held by Samsy who swam over 6000km! Our maps show the routes taken by our other turtles over the years, and we can see the distances and directions travelled vary significantly, perhaps due to the prevailing ocean currents at the time of release.

The satellite tag has been providing regular updates, and you can follow Noonu’s journey on our interactive map.

Maldivian Sea Turtle Identification Program

During November, we received 24 new photo sets submitted by the public. Currently, our database contains uniquely identified totals of: 1481 Hawksbills, 317 Greens and 97 Olive Ridleys (from 5500+ separate sightings taken across the Maldivian atolls).

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.

Turtle ID Maldives - unique facial scales

REEFSCAPERS Coral Propagation & Reef Restoration in the Maldives

Reefscapers coral lines deep refuge

Monthly Update Summary

At Landaa during November, we transplanted 24 coral frames, kindly sponsored by guests (nine), online (one), and the Resort (14), adding a total of 1138 coral fragments to the reef. We monitored (cleaned, repaired, photographed) a total of 139 established coral frames at various sites around the island. We have also been lifting 12 buried frames out of the seasonally shifting sands, replacing a total of 900 dead fragments.

At Kuda Huraa this month, we transplanted 20 new coral frames, and monitored a further 155 mature frames at various sites around the island. In addition, we retransplanted 10 degraded frames, and removed nine old frames for recoating and recycling.

Preparation for Coral Bleaching

International climate scientists are increasingly worried that the temperature of the world’s oceans have hit record highs during 2023 (BBC), and this is expected to continue into next year. The latest NOAA forecasts are predicting a coral bleaching event that could be comparable to the devastation seen in 2016, when 80% of the world’s corals died.
Seasonally, ocean temperatures in the Maldives usually peak in April-June. Our Reefscapers teams have already started experimenting with deep coral refuges, with new projects at our ‘Shipwreck’ and ‘Coral Lines’ sites.

Reefscapers coral lines deep refuge
Reefscapers coral lines deep refuge

Local Outreach & Education

Dhonfan School Visit – On 25 November, our Reefscapers team joined colleagues from the Manta Trust on a day trip to Dhonfanu school. We made a short presentation to 30 schoolchildren (aged 12 to 15 years) about our coral propagation work, coral biology, and the importance of coral reefs. This was followed by a marine quiz that the children actively enjoyed. In the afternoon, we guided the students on a snorkel on their house reef. This proved to be the first-time snorkelling for some of the children, and they were all excited to see turtles, fish and corals.

Muraka Farm (Dharavandhoo) – On 24 November, five representatives visited Landaa from Muraka Farm, an NGO based on the local island of Dharavandhoo. Here, they engaged in practical and theoretical workshops to learn from our coral restoration efforts as they want to start their own coral project in Dharavandhoo. The day included a presentation about our coral frames, tips for optimising survival and growth of corals, and how to harvest coral fragments from the reef.
The Farm team are awaiting official government approval before starting to propagate corals in Dharavandhoo, and we look forward to seeing their progress during 2024!

Coral Spawning

Our teams were excited to witness the mass coral spawning events this month ! Follow our coral spawning research for full details, view coral gametogenesis photos, and catch up with our latest coral sexual reproduction experiments (from eggs to larval settlement).

Reefscapers coral spawning Maldives
Reefscapers coral spawning Maldives
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