fish breeding aquarium assistant

Aquarium Assistant Internship

We are looking for an Aquarium Assistant to run our new fish breeding project here at Atoll Marine Centre. This internship requires you to have experience breeding fish.

The aquarium trade is causing conservation concerns in the Maldives by exploiting thousands of fishes annually. This activity is depleting populations of target reef fish and coral species and the associated destructive capture techniques are harming both target and non-target species populations. Some fish and coral species are more vulnerable than others due to the market demand, such as the commonly known clown fishes or anemone fishes. Our goal with this project is therefore to feed the aquarium trade with sustainably sourced fish and release a proportion of bred fish into the wild to reduce pressure on wild stocks. We also aim to spread awareness and increase knowledge and appreciation for Maldivian marine life and the threats it faces among local communities.

The Aquarium Assistant will run the technical aspects of this project focusing on rearing and breeding three species of anemone fish and participate in awareness-raising activities. She/He will be assisted by the two resident marine biologists working on the other marine conservation projects. This position is a great opportunity to gain experience in aquarium rearing while being part of a local NGO and participate in programmes benefiting the communities through awareness raising and training!

We are looking for someone who has experience working in aquariums, in particular tropical aquariums as well as experience breeding fish. Ideally a candidate would have experience breeding clownfish although this is not essential.


  • Develop and maintain tank and equipment health, inventory of supplies
  • Monitor breeding process (establish mating pairs, diet adjustment), fish behaviour and health
  • Oversee larval rearing process (diet, growth monitoring)
  • Manage rotifers and Artemia culture (live feed production)
  • Complete monitoring progress reports.


  • Bachelor’s or Master’s in a relevant field (e.g. marine biology, zoology, aquaculture)
  • Experience in fish husbandry (previous experience with anemone fish breeding preferred, but not required)
  • Experience working in the NGO sector is a plus
  • Excellent written and spoken English
  • Enthusiasm for marine conservation and developing outreach activities and associated materials
  • Ability to effectively communicate, in writing and verbally, and relay complicated information in a user-friendly manner
  • Be self-motivated with good organizational and problem-solving skills & enthusiastic for marine conservation
  • Be available for 3 months


What’s in it for you?

Well, aside from the obvious perks delivered by the Maldives, namely the beautiful setting and fantastic marine life, you will be based in a wonderfully friendly community, fully supported in your work by a caring, fun international and local team. Being based on a local island, as opposed to a resort island, you will have the very real and exciting opportunity to instigate beneficial change right where it is needed. The community is responsive and ready to be educated.

This position will also grant you the unique chance to experience life in the ‘real’ Maldives, outside the crowded and expensive tourist resorts. On our island there are just over 5000 inhabitants so expect to be living in a small island community where everyone knows everyone and where you are bound to be welcomed with open arms and a sense of hospitality which is rare in this world! On the weekends we arrange weekly excursions to explore the wonders of the Maldives, whether it be to uninhabited islands or our favourite snorkeling spots.


To apply email your CV and a covering letter to
Applications welcomed for an immediate start date – ideally April / May 2017

Volunteer Coordinator Internship – Apply Now

Application Window is Now Open – deadline 15th April

sunset beach naifaru

The daily management of Atoll Volunteers is done by our resident Volunteer Coordinator. The work is varied and includes different tasks such as organising individual volunteer placements, volunteer activities, community events, web-management (our website, social media, listings and other channels), conflict resolution, short- and long-term planning of our different projects, writing grant proposal and progress reports to international donor agencies like the UNDP, World Bank, UNODC and much, much more!

Taking on the position as our Volunteer Coordinator is not just a retreat to a nice sunny tropical island (although you will get ample opportunity to experience that as well), as you will be given the responsibility to ensure that the organisation runs smoothly and effectively. We expect a disciplined person who can manage his/her time responsibly and keep a healthy balance between work and fun.

We attract volunteers from all over the world and from different backgrounds and you will interact with these on a daily basis and have to ensure that they have a good and meaningful stay. You will also get to work closely with our many local volunteers and form great friendships with the local and welcoming people of Naifaru.


– Recruitment of international volunteers, including but not limited to: posting on websites, developing content, building relationships with partner agencies and organisations and increasing Atoll Volunteers’ online presence.

– Answering queries from prospective international volunteers regarding volunteering in the Maldives.

– Managing international volunteers’ stay in the Maldives and ensuring current volunteers’ wellbeing.

– Developing capacity and assist in administrative duties of Atoll Volunteers.

– Maintaining and progressing our activity on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

– Welcoming and briefing new volunteers.

– Performing on-going evaluation of our volunteer programmes.

– Composing reports and grant proposals for agencies such as the UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC and World Bank.

– Coordinating and organising events for the community through the umbrella NGO – Nairfaru Juvenile, such as anti-drug campaigns, women empowerment activities and youth development programmes.


– Excellent written and spoken English.

– Experience working with volunteers.

– Ability to effectively communicate, in writing and verbally, and relay complicated information in a user-friendly manner.

– Experience with effectively using social media and online campaigning in a professional setting.

– Experience working with HR or the NGO sector is a plus.

– Good organisational skills with the ability to work independently and under time pressure.

– A strong interest in development issues such as human rights, gender equality and youth development.

– Bachelor’s, Master’s or professional degree in a relevant field.

– 3 months commitment.

The position is unpaid but comes with accommodation, food and domestic transport in the Maldives.

What’s in it for you?

Whether you are an experienced professional looking for a sabbatical or a student looking for experience, we guarantee that volunteering/interning in this programme will be both a learning experience and a lot of fun!

By becoming our new Volunteer Coordinator, you will be able to truly make a difference where it matters!

By joining our team of local and international volunteers you will gain a unique opportunity to help our community by providing us with good management, and joining us means that you will gain a lot of practical experience as well as be given the opportunity to bring in your own views and ideas to our organisation and projects.

Becoming our Volunteer Coordinator will grant you a unique chance to experience life in the ‘real’ Maldives, outside the crowded and expensive tourist resorts! On our island there are just over 5000 inhabitants so expect to be living in a small island community where everyone knows everyone and where you are bound to be welcomed with open arms and a sense of hospitality which is rare in this world!

With an amazing environment and equally amazing community unlike most other places in the world, our dedicated local and international volunteers as well as local school staff and our great efforts to make our volunteers feel at home, you will never be bored!

All work and no fun!?

NO! There’s time for fun as well! In fact we do what we can to engage our volunteers in social activities on the weekends. For instance, we arrange weekly boat trips to neighboring islands to enjoy the sun, swim, snorkel, and fish or just kick back and relax.

As our Volunteer Coordinator you will be tasked with organising fun and exciting activities for our volunteers, and you are to join in these yourself!

You will never forget your time in Naifaru. There are constantly things going on everywhere around you, and everywhere you are met with open arms and a friendly face. Don’t just take our word for it; take the time to wander down one of the many intricate side alleys and experience first-hand how there is a very special atmosphere, unlike any you will find anywhere in the world. Guaranteed!

We could go on about the splendors of living in a friendly, remote island community in the Indian Ocean, but really, it has to be experienced to get the true feeling of island life!

The best time of your life awaits you in Naifaru. Don’t just sit there! Join us and change your life and those of our community!

To apply please email your CV and Cover Letter to

The deadline for applications is the 15th of April 2017 and interviews will be held in the following week.  The starting date of the position will be the first week of July 2017.


Finding Nema…A New Home

We’ve been so busy here on Naifaru these past few weeks hanging out with Manta Rays, visiting uninhabited islands and obviously doing lots of hard work in between, but we couldn’t not tell you about Nema’s journey.

Nema came to us in early December with a fin barely hanging on – she’d been caught in a fishing net and had to have one fin amputated by a local surgeon from the hospital (there is only one registered vet in The Maldives…you’ll meet her further along our story). She would barely eat to begin with and everyone was worried that this huge new addition to our Turtle family in Atoll Marine Centre was not going to make it. But gradually she began to eat and regain her strength and it wasn’t long before we had to start adapting the tanks to help her rehabiliation. With a little help from our a hundred man handyman (if you ask Mustafa, he will build it) we soon got Nema into a harness so her one good fin could recover in peace.

atoll volunteers nema

We knew from the get go that once she was fit and healthy Nema should be moved to a bigger tank so she could recover from her Buoyancy Syndrome with more ease; this syndrome is caused by the turtle taking in too much air while in a state of panic, so that it pushes through the intestine walls and gets stuck between the walls of the intestine and the carapace. Unfortunately, it’s a waiting game so the bigger the tank the better.

After two failed attempts to transport Nema via seaplane (she was so strong she broke free from her ties on the first attempt and on the second attempt, the airline decided she was not a priority), we thought third time lucky should involve a boat. It turned out to be very lucky as only two days before departure another Olive Ridley was delivered to us, after having been found floating in a neighbouring resort’s reef unable to dive by our Marine Biologist friend and colleague.

So now we had two Olive Ridley turtles to deliver to The Olive Ridley Project! Pictures paint a thousand words so this little gif expresses the bulk of our journey, which thanks to the skills and expertise of our team of volunteers (Director Kanma, Handyman Musta, Marine Biologist Zoe, Researcher Sebastien, Coordinator Cath & our boat crew) was as smooth and stress free as possible for Nema and Morla:

Animated GIF  - Find & Share on GIPHY

The release was an extremely joyous moment for all concerned. Nema immediately sped off to the other end of the tank and did a lap – a slightly lop-sided lap as she was still evidently getting used to a large space and only one fin, but a victory lap nonetheless. Then of course we were able to release Morla, our recent Olive Ridley rescue and we knew both were in the good hands of Claire Petros, the only vet in The Maldives, who’s working for The Olive Ridley Project, an organisation that now has a great rehabilitation centre and surgery in Cocoa Palm resort, so that turtles can be nursed to health and tourists can really see up close the damage done by waste in the ocean.

nema transfer

After a tour around the facilities and before a spot of fancy pants lunch, we talked shop. Having shared turtle tips across the atolls it was nice to discuss all the challenges and successes of turtle rehabilitation face to face. We learnt how a lot of poaching still goes on in the Baa atoll and that despite the best efforts of Claire, many local staff still think of them as food. Hence why she has been visiting schools to teach the kids about how important turtles are to the ecosystem & how if we take one valuable adult out of the population then it’s a 25 year wait until a newly born (of which 1 in 1000 survive) will reach sexual maturity. Cocoa Palm island is a Green Sea turtle nesting island in April, so we hope Claire can get the message through to young and old alike so that these nests are not disturbed.

After learning more about the successful adoption scheme they have as well as some very useful medical knowledge, we were taken through the Turtle & Ray Identification & Monitoring system they have up and running by the resident Marine Biologist Lisa. What with the huge numbers of Manta Rays spotted yearly around our island, we are thinking we might have to start a similar system soon. Finally we went through a great Dos & Donts Guide for when you find a turtle, which we are planning to engage resorts with for our Turtle Festival with the help of our partners The Olive Ridley Project and Marine Savers. Out of the many resorts who encounter turtles or set up centres for them, very few are doing it right or with the permits they require. Although, there is a long road to go, it is success stories like Nema’s journey so far which make it all worth while. Her strength and the strength of the community around her to give this turtle a chance is what conservation and volunteering is all about.

nema tank atoll volunteers

Leo Atoll Volunteers

Goodbye From Marine Biologist Leo

Marine Biologist Leo has been with us for 6 months and as we walked together through the sandy streets of Naifaru, this tiny island in the Maldives we call home, for one last time this morning, we had to ask him some questions to find out about his experience. You can read his answers here…

  1. What will you miss most?

Well this question is more difficult than choosing my desert island discs [final question below], but it has to be the turtles, the genuine/ crazy people and the lifestyle in such a different place like Naifaru, where the streets are Made by Sand & Coral and the timeless people enjoy every second just being themselves or being with their families. In essence, it’s the simple marine life I will miss most.

Leo & Zoe Atoll Volunteers Marine Biologist

  1. What will you miss least?

The sensation I’m feeling now that I have to leave and the chilli in my food 🙂

  1. Tell us something you learnt about yourself.

I learnt a lot, mainly that I know almost nothing about myself. Also, that I don’t need many of the things the “developed” world told me I need.

  1. Tell us something you learnt about the world.

The world is so beautiful, because it’s so simple, like a smile, and you can still see it in places like this. Unfortunately, sometimes we complicate everything with so much past and future, with theories, desires and ambitions, always searching for perfection while all along every moment we live is perfection.

sunset beach naifaru

  1. Tell us a joke.

Well I must say this would be a better question for Jeff, a previous marine volunteer or Cath, our volunteer coordinator but I’ll give it a try:

“Oh darling, since you’ve started volunteering, you’ve become such a passionate kisser…”

“What do you mean, passionate? I’m looking for food remains!”

  1. Sum up Naifaru in three words.

What’s the date?

  1. What have you loved best about being a Marine Biologist here?

The turtle releases and the first time that Nema [successfully rehabilitated turtle] ate her first piece of tuna after many days without eating.

Leo Nema Atoll Volunteers

  1. Did you have a favourite turtle and if so, who?

Donatello and Maya are very special turtles for me, as I have learnt a lot from them, but not really. All of them are full of peace and fun, so I have to say they’re all my favourites!

  1. Do you have a favourite place on the island? 

The reef and sea cage.

  1. What is your best memory from your time here?

I have too many really, but maybe a sunset with dolphins, or going home by bike with local friends, the football games with the kids, and barbecues with volunteers and locals friends.

Leo football Atoll Volunteers

  1. What is your favourite excursion?

Korralion lab [Vavvaru]. Just go there and chill out and snorkel with turtles, sharks and awesome fish!

  1. What food and/ or drink did you enjoy the most?

Veg kotu roshi  or club sandwich with mix milkshake 😀

  1. What is your advice for the next Marine Biologist?

If they don’t know too much about turtles it would be awesome for them to read up and to contact some people and learn about them.

  1. Would you rather eat Kothu Roshi or Roshi Mashuni for the rest of your life? [Both are traditional Maldivian dishes]

I know I can eat Roshi Mashuni every morning, so I’ll go for the Roshi Mashuni – it’s so good!

And finally…

15. Tell us your Desert Island Discs:

[8 songs you’d take to a desert island]

Let it be – The Beatles

Echoes – Pink Floyd

Redemption song – Bob Marley

Blowing in the wind – Mr. Bob Dylan 

Un angel cayo – Mana

Latino America – CAlle 13

5 Razones – Manu chao

Mas alla de tus ojos – dred mar i

And the one song you’d keep if you could only save one…

Echoes – Pink Floyd

You’re allowed one luxury – what is it?

A Sea plane.

And one book.

Manual – how to pilot a sea plane

Great answers, great guy! We will miss you mucho Leo Zelaya and we wish you all the best as you spread love for the ocean and turtles in Sri Lanka, Guatemala and wherever you go. Hasta Luego Amigo!



Marine Biologist Internship Available Now

Join the Atoll Volunteers team and be a Marine Biologist in The Maldives!

Check out the role on or or see below.

Our two marine biologists are in charge of running the marine centre, caring for the sea turtles, progressing our coral gardening efforts, raising environmental awareness within the community, monitoring local reef health and managing the international volunteers who pay to participate in the marine programme ‘Marine Conservation and Turtle Conservation’. The daily work is mostly caring for the turtles, but the more efficient the management of the turtle programme, the more time there will be for the other projects.
The work requires constant commitment and passion. The position offers a lot of responsibility and the chosen candidate will be expected to manage this in a disciplined and professional way while also keeping a healthy balance between work and fun. We attract volunteers from around the world, from different backgrounds and with different needs. You will lead and interact with these volunteers daily and we strive to make sure that they have a meaningful stay with us.

As the marine biologist your job description will include the following:

1. Managing and expanding/improving the Marine Conservation and Turtle Conservation programme:
• Ensuring correct sea turtle husbandry (daily)
• Working towards effective protection for sea turtles and their eggs
• Establishing and maintaining constructive communications with other sea turtle institutions
• Continuing turtle conservation contributions for the Maldives Sea Turtle Monitoring Network
• Restarting and monitoring coral gardening work
• Monitoring reef health in the surrounding areas

2. Managing and expanding/improving awareness outreach into the community:
• Weekly nature club lessons (ages 10-15)
• Environmental events to reach the whole community, including annual Turtle Festival (around 1000 attendees)
• Reaching out to neighbouring islands

3. Ensuring the health and happiness of participating volunteers and overseeing duties concerned with their stay.

4. Writing progress reports, funding reports and funding proposals where necessary, as well as daily admin.

5. Managing the operations and expansions at our marine centre
• Daily opening to receive and educate visitors (locals and tourists) includes Powerpoint presentation, marine centre tour etc. Confidence with large groups preferred.
• Maintaining and improving aesthetic appeal, operational facilities and educational content/displays.

The below criteria are extremely important as your effectiveness here will depend on your ability to thrive in the conditions and face all the tasks ahead.

1. You must have a Masters degree or a Bachelor degree with a lot of experience in a related field; marine biology, marine ecology etc.
2. You should have proven experience working in a tropical and/or developing country. Conditions are basic, food is simple and island operations and supplies tend to be limited and slow under the concept of ‘island time’.
3. You will need to be an easy-going, approachable and friendly ‘team player’ as this position is more than a scientific one. You will be leading a team of culturally diverse volunteers, working within a small community and working with busy NGO members.
4. The ability to work independently will be important as your ‘behind-the-scenes work/ideas’ will lead and mould the programme going forward.
5. You will need to be a confident and charismatic speaker with experience delivering informative but attractive and interactive slideshows. You will be delivering presentations to volunteers, tourists, school children and even adult members of the community, council or other NGOs.
6. You will need to be physically fit and comfortable/ strong in the water. It is extremely hot and unsheltered and you will have to travel around the island by foot.
7. You will need to be available for 12 months.
8. You will need to be a proficient English speaker. Other languages are beneficial.
9. You must be competent with Microsoft programmes and admin tasks.

1. Experience working with sea turtles, whether in the wild or a captive scenario, will be hugely beneficial as the health and happiness of the turtles is our first priority.
2. A working knowledge of reef ecology and tropical marine species.
3. Knowledge about aquarium maintenance and fish husbandry for our Anemone fish breeding programme (funded by the UNDP).
4. Experience with surgical procedures in a veterinary environment is beneficial due to recent increase of emergency care situations.

What’s in it for you?
Well, aside from the obvious perks delivered by the Maldives, namely the beautiful setting and fantastic marine life, you will be based in a wonderfully friendly community, fully supported in your work with a programme that is yours to mould and take into the future.
Being based on a local island, as opposed to a resort island, you will have the very real and exciting opportunity to instigate beneficial change right where it is needed. The community is responsive and ready to be educated.
Becoming our new marine biologist will also grant you the unique chance to experience life in the ‘real’ Maldives, outside the crowded and expensive tourist resorts. On our island there are just over 5000 inhabitants so expect to be living in a small island community where everyone knows everyone and where you are bound to be welcomed with open arms and a sense of hospitality which is rare in this world!
We do what we can to engage our volunteers in social activities, so on the weekends we arrange weekly excursions to explore the wonders of the Maldives, whether to uninhabited islands or our favourite snorkeling spots. This is an unpaid position. However, your board, lodging, domestic travel and visa will be covered while you are in Naifaru.

To apply for the position you must submit an application (CV and covering letter) to the Volunteer Coordinator on: Questions are also welcome.
Applicants must apply no later than the 10th of March, interviews will be held soon after individual application submissions due to the position start date. Therefore, the earlier you can submit, the better. Applicants must be available to begin mid to late March and commit for 12 months.


Doing Your Master’s Thesis in the Maldives

Crystal clear and turquoise water with uncountable colourful animals hidden in its coral reefs and palm trees that provide you with shade from the continuously shining sun… what sounds like the advert for an exquisite holiday in a far-away paradise, could also be the description of your next research location. Continue reading

fish breeding aquarium assistant

A day in the life of a marine conservation volunteer

The sun is already baking hot as we walk across Naifaru Island from the volunteer house to go to breakfast. We wander slowly through the criss-cross of streets passing local people lounging outside their houses in traditional Joali rope chairs and dodging motorbikes. Breakfast is in the cool shade of Aqua Garden restaurant next to the beach, Continue reading


A Guide to Packing

This post is a biased towards females, but being female I have a better insight into what female volunteers need – plus we have stricter rules! However males will also benefit. This post is a guide and shouldn’t be taken as exact, having been here a little over a month so far there is things I wish I’d known before I arrived and I hope this helps with your packing. Continue reading


Nema, Our Newest Arrival

On Monday, December 5th,  we received a call from the Tuna Factory on Felivaru, a neighbouring island to say they had an injured turtle with a damaged flipper. What we found on arrival was far worse than we had imagined. We were expecting a back fin to be damaged what we found was her right front fin to barely hanging on. She had been pulled up in fishing net which has severely severed her right flipper. Continue reading


Lhaviyani Turtle Festival

The first ever Lhaviyani Turtle Festival took place this week on Naifaru, and it really was a great success!  The aim of the festival was to increase awareness about the marine environment, and to celebrate sea turtles, an essential feature of a healthy marine ecosystem.  For the past few months, we have spent a lot of time organising the turtle festival, especially our marine biologists, Fanny and Ben and those that run Naifaru Juvenile.  Organising the festival meant finding partners, sponsors, organising activities, and seminars.  We wanted to involve the schools as much as possible, which meant doing various competitions, for posters, t-shirts and sculptures.  The kids did a great job and the artwork we received was really excellent and creative.Continue reading