Marine Biology at Hurawalhi

16 Apr 2019

As Hurawalhi welcomes two new Marine Biologists from Manta Trust we take a look at their role on the island and surrounding reefs.

Meet the Marine Biologists:

Lynn, from Germany, started out with her career in the ocean as a dive instructor and later graduated from university with a MSc in Environment & Resource Management. She says of her role working as a Manta Trust representative and marine biologist, “it is an absolute dream job.”

Tiff, from the UK, has a degree in Marine Biology and been involved with manta ray research previously in both the Maldives and Indonesia. She is also a dive instructor and has worked at dive centers in Mozambique and Malaysia.

Marine Biology at Hurawalhi:

As representatives of Manta Trust, a lot of what Lynn and Tiff do involves getting to know the mantas of Lhaviyani Atoll a little better. They join daily manta snorkelling trips teaching guests about manta rays, how to interact with them responsibly, and allow them to learn about their research first-hand.

When they’re not out in the field searching for mantas or in the office processing data, they are also involved in taking turtle ID photos in collaboration with Olive Ridley Project, planning Hurawalhi’s own coral nursery project, and sharing their love and knowledge of marine life with guests at the Hurawalhi Marine Biology Centre.

Recent Marine Biology Action:

On March 23rd 2019 the dive center received a message saying a ghost net had been spotted, Tiff went to investigate but, despite searching for an hour, could not locate it.

The following day, whilst diving at Kuredu Caves, diving instructor Sina found the net on the reef and the boat crew dragged it back to Hurawalhi. It was so large that it couldn’t be pulled onto the beach as one piece so the team at Hurawalhi spent an hour cutting it into sections to enable it to be removed from the ocean. Another one and a half hours were spent picking through the conglomerate of at least 30-40 different nets and what looked like the remnants of an FAD (fish aggregating device).

Countless starfish, nudibranchs, flatworms, sea cucumbers, sergeant major fish, crabs, and even 14 frogfish were found in the net and released back into the water.

Tiff collected samples of the entanglement of nets and prepared a report to send to the Olive Ridley Project who strives to prevent nets like this from floating in the ocean and becoming a danger to aquatic life.

Just another day in the ‘office’ for Marine Biologists at Hurawalhi!