Hawksbill turtle on the reef Maldives

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 – culture is stable, to feed our juvenile fish and shrimps
– Rotifers – population has decreased slightly to 327/ml.
– Artemia
– maintained at 6g of cysts per day to accommodate our growing population of moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), fish and shrimps. We have also started a culture of adult Artemia to feed the larger residents (yellow boxfish, saddleback pufferfish, clownfish breeding pairs).

Jellyfish – Aurelia aurita

After three months, our large 1000L Kreisel cylinder tank is back in service, with a total of 80 jellies (6cm diameter) relocated from the 90L growing tanks. We are continuing our mix of 90% salt water/10% fresh water, linked to an automatic filtering system and UV light.

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.

Jellyfish Kreisel cylinder Maldives

Photo1: Our dedicated jellyfish Kreisel cylinder at Landaa Giraavaru.

Photo2: Specialised food chain, behind the scenes in our Fish Lab

Fish Lab Food chain

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.
Population size has been stable during December, with slow but steady increases in size and weight.

Reefscapers grouper rearing Maldives

Grouper grow-out at Landaa

Grouper rearing tanks Maldives

Our grouper-rearing tanks

Ornamental Fish & Shrimp Breeding

Dancing shrimp (Thor amboinensis). By mid-December, we had collected around 300 larvae, now growing in our square tank with continuous-flow to keep them swimming. Feed is rotifer and algae.

Boxer shrimp (Stenopus hispidus). A total of 1100 larvae were collected, and divided between three tanks at cooler temperature.

Maldivian clownfish (Amphiprion nigripes) – one clutch of eggs was laid in the main tank, but we will not be growing these out.

Clark’s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii). One batch was collected this month, yielding 15 juveniles. Batches hatched in October and November have completed metamorphosis, yielding 28 juveniles, now together in a single tank. They are sharing the same diet of krill, dry food and adult Artemia. Two individuals from the May batch are now fully grown and have been relocated to our main aquarium. [Lifecycle graphic]

Fish Lab Shrimp breeding cycle

Marine Outreach & Education

At the start of December, we were pleased to participate in the very first meeting of the Maldives Ocean Alliance. This new partnership of conservationists from across the Maldives and beyond aims to create a collective voice as we work together to actively protect and promote ocean health for wildlife and people.

Maldives Ocean Alliance 2023

Maldives Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation

Our Rescue Turtle patients Maldives

Stranded Olive Ridley Turtles

December was a very busy month for our turtle teams, with the arrival of six new rescued turtles.

We are now in the NE monsoon season, and the prevailing ‘Iruvai’ winds bring many injured and entangled non-native Olive Ridley turtles into Maldivian waters, probably originating from the foraging areas and nesting beaches around the Bay of Bengal (famous for the mass turtle nesting arribada).
‘Ghost nets’ are discarded or lost fishing gear that make up 10% of marine plastic waste, and drift around the world’s oceans. Unfortunately, floating ghost nets attract fish and marine life that attracts curious hungry turtles, which can easily become entangled in the ropes, lines and net filaments.

New Admissions during December (see bottom of page)

Zaithooni Dhonbe ‘Zai’ (juvenile Olive Ridley turtle) – found on 15 December, beached on the local island of Hulhumalé, trapped in a huge entanglement of ropes. She was in very poor health, and despite our best efforts, sadly died nine days later.

Hameedha (adult male Olive Ridley turtle) – admitted on 18 December, discovered floating and unable to dive by our Resort colleagues in Launch Section. Initial assessment revealed buoyancy issues but no major injuries. He has a low appetite and is under close observation.

Raani (adult female Olive Ridley) – found floating entangled in a ghost net on 21 December. She was active but underweight, with an amputated flipper (from net entanglement).

Laith (adult male Olive Ridley) – found on 24 December in South Malé Atoll, entangled in a ghost net. He was in poor health – extremely dehydrated, underweight and buoyant, with damaged flippers. We immediately administered fluid therapy and antibiotics.

Mariyam (adult female Olive Ridley) – found on 24 December in Vaavu Atoll), floating on the ocean surface with healed wounds. She is active but buoyant, so we will start to encourage diving behaviours.

Afaa (juvenile Olive Ridley) – found entangled in a ghost net in Meemu Atoll on 29 December, with flipper loss and damage. She is in poor health, under close supervision, receiving antibiotics and wound treatment.

Apprentices and Turtle

Noonu’s Journey of 3,000 km!

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’s satellite tag has continued to transmit regularly since her release on 21 October. For several weeks, she stayed in the same area off the coast of Colombo (Sri Lanka), and then headed westwards until she arrived at the continental shelf of India, which she followed south-westerly/easterly, almost retracing her previously tracked route! Most recently, she appears to be heading back towards Sri Lanka, likely swimming with the current. We wonder if she will return to Sri Lanka or continue heading East under the southernmost tip.

Noonu has now clocked up a total of 3,000 km! Although this is likely to be an underestimate, as the tag needs to be out of the water for at least five minutes to communicate with a passing satellite, so the plot lines represent a simplified version of the actual route.

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 December, we received 16 new photo sets submitted by the public, enabling us to uniquely identify six new individuals.
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 spawning Maldives

Monthly Update Summary

At Kuda Huraa during December, we transplanted 11 new coral frames, and monitored a further 114 mature frames at various sites around the island. In addition, we tagged and remapped the Turtle site, retagged 66 frames, and recoated nine recycled frames.

At Landaa this month, we transplanted 31 coral frames, kindly sponsored by guests (15), online (three), and the Resort (13), adding a total of 1900 coral fragments to the reef. We monitored (cleaned, repaired, photographed) a total of 431 established coral frames at various sites around the island. In addition, we recycled 100 fragments at Mudakaashi Reef, and lifted 30 frames from shifting sands (at Parrot Reef and Anchor Point).

Over New Year, we received a very generous guest sponsorship of 50 large frames to be planted around Voavah. To express their gratitude, Four Seasons kindly sponsored an additional 10 frames, so we plan to build a total of 60 large frames dedicated to the family. These frames will be planted at various depths around Voavah reef, arranged in custom formations as requested by the guest. Once we receive the next shipment of frames from our workshop in Fulhadhoo, we will start this exciting project by harvesting a variety of local corals from Voavah and surrounding reefs.

Coral Awareness & Education – MMRI Meeting

During December, members of our Four Seasons Marine Savers team joined our Reefscapers colleagues from Sheraton Resorts, coming together in Malé for a meeting with the Maldives Marine Research Institute (MMRI). Following a presentation of Reefscapers’ published spawning data, collection methodology and key findings from two years of research, we discussed potential research collaborations. At present, resource limitations and discrepancies in data collection are inhibiting the viability of shared datasets for future publication, but we are excited to share knowledge moving forward and gather data from more sites around the Maldives. Furthermore, MMRI study a wider diversity of genera, which will be helpful in improving our knowledge of spawning.

Christmas Frame – On Xmas Day, we joined up with the Dive Team and guests to plant our bespoke crescent moon and Xmas tree frames during celebratory dives.

Reefscapers XMAS frames
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
Landaa Giraavaru Maldives