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Symbiosis – A partnership for the future

This is the first installment on a three-part blog series about Clownfish written by our Aquarium Biologist. 


Symbiosis
: a relationship where both parties benefit from their association with each other. These relationships are particularly prominent in coral reef ecosystems and are essential to its functionality. One of the most iconic symbiotic relationships involves the charismatic clownfish and its protective sea anemone home. But how does such an essential relationship evolve in nature?

The anemone with its toxic properties offers protection the small clownfish (anemonefish), who in return provides additional nutrients and oxygenation to the anemone. Clownfish are also fiercely defensive of their anemone and will fight off predators such as other fish species and even Sea Turtles to protect their home! Through toxic mimicry, the clownfish is able to develop an immunity to the sting of the anemone, allowing it to be the only species who can pass through the anemones tentacles. Anemonefish incorporate some elements of the anemones toxin into a mucus layer over its body, making the anemone think the fish is its ‘self’ and therefore not firing its toxin.

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Anemones are very special in that they have a three-way symbiosis. A symbiotic alga, zooxanthellae lives inside their tissues providing additional energy and nutrients through photosynthesis. The algae gives the anemone its unique colours and allows the anemone to invest less energy into sourcing food for itself and more into toxin production.

There are 28 species of anemonefish and they form a symbiosis with only 10 host anemone species, despite there being around 1000 different anemone species. It is thought that there is an optimal range of toxicity that these 10 anemones fit, allowing for the best cost/benefit ratio for the clownfish. Throughout the Maldives there is only 2 species of anemonefish:

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Anemonefish will generally be found in pairs, with the larger of the two fish being the dominate and protective female. Her smaller male partner takes on the submissive role in their relationship and is responsible for cleaning and caring for their eggs. Any other juveniles present are all males, as all clownfish are born male and only one fish per anemone group will make the transition into the dominate female to produce offspring.

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Anemones and clownfish can be found on reefs all throughout the Maldives at depths from 3-12m and can be viewed by both snorkeling and diving. The one of most famous and abundant locations in the Maldives for seeing this symbiosis in action is Anemone Thila in the Lhaviyani Atoll.

Stay tuned for more upcoming blogs about clownfish and anemones!

By Cassie Hoepner

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Fundraising for Turtle Tanks

Please help us raise money for Atoll Marine Centre to build larger tanks for the rehabilitation of our Olive Ridley Turtles.

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We recently set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money through donations for larger tanks to be built in our Marine Centre. Atoll Marine Centre undertakes incredible work daily; rehabilitating rescued sea turtles in order to release them to the wild is one of the main aims of the centre. Other activities include running ‘Nature Club’ which involves educating children from local schools. More recently we have started a clownfish breeding programme with an aim to reverse decline of wild stocks in the Maldives in association with Finding Nemo. Our marine centre is expanding as we now have a mini-museum and a brand new lab to look after the sea turtles.
With all this going on we must stress that sea turtles are still being brought in due to injuries, or because people no longer wish to keep them as pets. Injuries in the ocean are mostly caused by fishing nets, which are a huge threat to marine life globally. In the Maldives we only use the pole-and-line methods to catch fish, however nets drift into the Indian Ocean from much further afield causing damage to local marine life. People take hatchlings as pets and often are kept in unsuitable conditions, which leads to a decline in the sea turtles health. Turtles are brought to us from neighbouring atolls if they are rescued from the ocean for rehabilitation, and in the end rewilding.

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In December 2016 we received our first Olive Ridley turtle ad since then we have received another 9 in our care. All of these turtles have been brought to us with injuries so they need medical attention, suffering from lacerations from the nets, shell damage, or buoyancy syndrome. We currently have two 25kg Olive Ridleys in 2-meter tanks (our largest), and both are suffering from buoyancy syndrome. Buoyancy syndrome is a stress response to being caught in a net, the turtles inflate themselves with air to prevent drowning. Lola and Luna are two turtles that have been released into the wild, they were able to beat their buoyancy syndrome after 6 months. Nadia on the other hand has been with for 10 months and is still buoyant. She still has the air stuck between her shell and her organs so she cannot dive to get food and just floats at the top of the tank. To help with buoyancy syndrome we take our turtles swimming in the ocean for dive therapy. Due to the size of the tanks and the buoyancy syndrome we have found our Olive Ridleys scratching their faces and shells, and breaking their fins against the wall. To prevent this from occurring they have to be tied up in the tank, which further restricts movement. We need funding to be able to build larger tanks, more suitable for our Olive Ridley rescue turtles, so that they can swim more freely and practice their diving. Once the turtles within our care healthy we start the process to release them into the wild but we know bigger tanks would help with our Olive Ridley turtle rehabilitation.

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Please visit our Go Fund Me page and donate whatever you can for our turtles.

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International Coastal Clean Up

Environmental issues aren’t new; we have been aware of the devastating damage that marine litter has on our oceans and marine life for quite some time. 80% of marine litter originates from land, whether it has been swept out from the coastline, the streets or sewers, or simply dumped there. The time that litter takes to degrade is staggering; 600 years for a fishing line, 500 years for a plastic bag, 200 years for an aluminum can. Plastic is carried all around the globe through the ocean’s currents, and litter originating from other countries (especially ghost nets) get washed through the Maldives, into our oceans and on to our beaches. This is incredibly dangerous for our marine wildlife. A recent study by The Marine Conservation Society found that more than 280 marine species have been found with microplastics in their stomachs, including all species of sea turtles.

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But this month, the world came together took action. Saturday 16th September was International Coastal Clean Up day. All across the world, millions of people came together and made a collected stand to protect our oceans. However, the Maldives wasn’t satisfied with just one day, and a national coastal clean up WEEK was organized instead! From Saturday 16th September to Saturday 23rd September, thousands of people all across the Maldives volunteered their time each morning to clean up their islands. This was a monumental task! Not only does the Maldives have a significant waste management problem as it is; we are also a group of over 1000 small islands, and so we are pretty much nothing but coast!

Beach Clean up team

On our island of Naifaru the costal clean up events were organized by the Naifaru Council in association with Naifaru Juvenile, and support from Atoll Volunteers and the community. The community of Naifaru were incredible! Every morning the community gathered at 6am and spent three hours gathering all the waste and litter from our beaches. Using recycled cement bags to collect the litter, it was then taken to the island’s waste management plant to be sorted and disposed of sustainably. The sheer amount of litter we collected was staggering and included all kinds of items including; straws, toothbrushes, clothes, plastic bottles, nappies, tin cans, fishing line, broken bikes, computers, cutlery, batteries, shampoo bottles, metal pipes, ceramic tiles, the list goes on and on.

We had such an amazing and heartwarming experience being a part of a community wide effort to improve our island and raise awareness at the same time. The amount of rubbish we collected was staggering, so a huge thankyou and congratulations to all involved!
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As well as action, Atoll Volunteers is passionate about community education. During our weekly nature club with the local school children we turned our focus to waste management. The children learnt about how long different items they use on a daily basis take to degrade, the threats to marine life, and actions they can take in their own lives to reduce, reuse and recycle!

There are some truly inspiring projects happening all across the world to help tackle this issue and raise awareness, including art installations, banning of single use plastics, and the 2 minute beach clean movement. It’s a humongous problem, Atoll Volunteers will be organizing a monthly beach clean up with our volunteers. To get involved and make a real difference to our island community, join one of our volunteering programmes today.

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Ghost nets – The haunting truth on the floating threat to turtles, and how we can stop it

This week our Marine Biologist, Jess, discusses one of the biggest threats to marine life; ghost nets, and how this deadly marine litter is affecting the turtles in our Atoll Marine Centre. 

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Lola

Whilst the majority of the turtles we receive at Atoll Marine Centre are illegally kept hatchling or juvenile Green Turtles, this year we’ve received record numbers of injured Olive Ridley turtles.  At the beginning of December 2016 a fisherman found a large Olive Ridley sea turtle caught in a ghost net, with deep lacerations around her fin, which ended in an amputation. We named her Nema; she was the first of 13 injured Olive Ridley’s arriving at Atoll Marine Centre within the following 8 months.

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A timeline of the 13 injured turtles we have received in the last 8 months

Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the sea. They have become one of the greatest killers in the ocean and now pose a serious threat to marine life all over the world. Hundreds of kilometers of fishing nets are abandoned annually and can take up to 600 years to degrade. It’s estimated that these fishing nets make up a whopping 10% (640,000 tonnes) of litter in the ocean, leading to devastating impacts on the environment. In the Maldives, fishing nets are illegal, with only pole and line methods utilized by fishermen, however when the monsoons change, an influx of ghost gear washes through from surrounding countries such as Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka.

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The shocking injuries Stitch received from a ghost net

When discarded, abandoned or lost at sea, nets become caught on coral reefs, smothering and destroying coral, wiping out whole ecosystems while they move in the current. Some nets drift further into the open ocean continuing to catch fish, which is known as ‘ghost fishing’. This is often where the nets catch other marine mammals, seabirds and turtles ,who get trapped and die. With the weight of the animals the nets sink to the seafloor where scavengers feed on the carcasses, the weight is then lifted, and the net floats back into the water column for the cycle to start again and continue to cause further damage.

ghost net cycleThe destructive Ghost Fishing Cycle. (Source: Olive Ridley Project)

There are many ‘ghosts’ in the marine environment including overfishing and acidification, connected with greenhouse gases, and the increase of anoxic ‘dead zones’ as a result of run off filled with fertilizers. Ghost gear is part of the array of challenges which must be addressed urgently to protect the ocean from anthropogenic impacts.

8 out of the 13 turtles we’ve received have had fins amputated and 9 out of 13 have been suffering from buoyancy syndrome, injuries directly caused from ghost nets. When caught in the ghost nets turtles often inflate themselves with air as a stress response, in order to protect themselves from drowning. This air then gets trapped between the carapace (shell) and the organs, causing them to float. 9 months later, and Nema, our first Olive Ridley, is still very buoyant and cannot dive. Although she is healthy, we have to wait for her to naturally release the air to release her, as she would currently starve on the ocean surface if she were let back into the ocean. Some of our turtles have lost their buoyancy overnight and some have taken months, unfortunately the reasons behind their recovery is still a mystery. We are currently taking Nema out into the sea, giving her more opportunities to practice her diving, and we are seeing promising improvements, so we hope it won’t be long now!

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Nema during one of her diving rehabilitation sessions in the ocean

We have received turtles up to 30kg, a size bigger than our centre was designed to accommodate. Many have been transferred to and from the Olive Ridley Project and we are now building bigger tanks more suited to their needs (if you wish to help donate to this cause, please visit our Go Fund Me page). We’ve also began re-purposing ghost nets we find and have started selling keyrings and bracelets in our gift shop with bowls and animals next on our to-do list!

Don’t forget – 80% of ocean rubbish comes from land! Here’s a quick picture of how long it takes some general household goods/common marine debris to decompose. Please think twice about purchasing single use plastics and always remember to reduce, reuse and recycle.

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By Jess Kalisiak 

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6 Reasons why volunteering is better than travelling

Our Volunteer Coordinator explores why volunteering trumps travelling every time.

There is nothing quite like the excitement of arriving at a brightly coloured hostel door, in some exotic city that you’ve been drooling over on instagram for the past few months. You whack out the old Lonely Planet guidebook, and set off on foot experiencing this new exciting culture for a day or two, taking in the sights, and probably going for a drink or two with your fellow hostel travelers. Then you pack up your rucksack, and its on to the next hostel and exotic place, where, sat with another bunch of people in another bar, you will no doubt utter the phrase all other travelers do; “oh yeah, I’ve done (insert exotic place here)”.

I myself am guilty of this. For years I was in an endless cycle of scrimping and saving for months, before embarking on my next trip, moving from one travel spot to the next every few days, before coming back and saving for the next trip. And don’t get me wrong, it was incredible. I loved every single second and have seen some incredible sights and gained memories that will stay with me forever. And I myself would sit in a bar and say proudly “Oh yeah, I’ve done New Zealand” or “Oh yeah, I’ve done Chiang Mai”. But have we really ‘done’ a country, or even a single town, after a day or two? Can you experience what makes that place unique, it’s little local quirks, understand the local people’s way of life, by following a guide book? The answer is no, and that is why I will always pick volunteering over travelling. Here are my top 6 reasons why;

  1. It’s like having your cake and eating it

Volunteering abroad is travelling, but so much more. There are many reasons why we have this sudden urge for ‘wanderlust’. To escape our normal humdrum lives, to experience other cultures, soak up some sun, see the wonders of the world, to name but a few. You still get all that with volunteering abroad, but you also get to make a difference to the place you visit, and gain all the other benefits from volunteering and settling in one place for a few weeks/months that we discuss below. And hey, if you still want the spontaneity of travel, a lot of volunteers spend an extra week or two just travelling after they finish their programmes.

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  1. Become part of a community, not just an observer

As a volunteer, you become a familiar face around the community, from simply living there for an extended period, to working with the local people. You get invited to dinner at a family’s home, the little girl runs up and holds your hand as you walk down the street, you are actually in the festival, you join a bashi team, you somehow get roped into a local fashion show, you taste REAL local food. These experiences simply aren’t found in a guidebook or a tour. Living in the community for an extended period of time allows you to not just be a stranger walking down the street; you become a friend. Everyone stops and says hello and welcomes you not only into their town, but their lives.

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  1. Contribute to the right kind of tourism

There is big money in tourism, and especially in developing countries this can mean people and companies often exploit wildlife and the environment to get a piece of the pie. Controversy around attractions such as Thailand’s ‘Tiger Kingdom’ and ‘Elephant sanctuaries’, or Florida’s ‘Sea World’ is not new, and there are countless other examples where half the time we don’t even realise the harmful ramifications. Animals are forced to preform, reefs are destroyed to make way for underwater restaurants, marine life’s natural habitat of seagrass beds are removed because they are ‘unsightly’ and baby turtles are taken from nests so that they can be released by resort guests. The main problem is that the allure of seeing these animals we love, or eating in an underwater restaurant, or having that picture perfect white sand beach is too great. Remember, if there is no demand, there is no supply. So use your purchasing power wisely and ensure your hard earned money is making the right choices. By volunteering with an approved programme, you are still able to get a taste of these incredible experiences, but know that your money and time is contributing to actually protecting the animals and the environment we love, rather than helping to continue a destructive cycle of exploitation.

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  1. It’s not all hard play and no work

One of the reasons a lot of young people in particular love to travel is to escape the pressures of future careers. Unfortunately, eventually we have to face up to reality and join the big bad working world. There is a bit of a debate about whether companies look favorably or not on an extended period of travel, however, as well as satisfying that travel bug, volunteering actually enhances your CV. As well as gaining skills transferable for most future careers, from practical field experience, teamwork, communications, leadership, data collection, report writing and a whole host of others, many volunteering companies will happily provide references and help find networking connections.

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  1. Money, money, money, it’s a rich man’s world

It’s the unavoidable downside to anything. Money. Holidays, travel, and yes, even volunteering costs money. Having funded all my travels myself, I can relate to the disheartening feeling of watching your hard-earned funds slowly trickle away. The majority of volunteering programmes do charge a fee for your efforts. The initial numbers can be quite shocking, with the norm being over a thousand dollars for two weeks. “But this is unfair” I hear you cry, “I’m giving my time and effort to doing good!”. However, the cost of volunteers transport, accommodation, food, resources, and activities needs to be covered somehow. There is a silver lining. Whilst on volunteer projects, there is actually very little need to spend any additional money whilst there, as in most programmes, everything is included. Having been volunteering for nearly two months now, I estimate I’ve spent less than $20, and that is just because I needed to satisfy my chocolate fix. The up front cost is high, but in the long run, it can actually be much more budget friendly than a regular holiday.

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  1. Make your mama proud

Volunteering genuinely does make a huge difference to the local community and the projects you work on. Most NGO’s don’t make a profit (or they shouldn’t anyway), and the good one’s want to dedicate any funds on the actual conservation and developmental projects, rather than pay expensive staff salaries. These organizations, and therefore these valuable projects, simply wouldn’t get done without the self-less work of volunteers. Rather than boasting of your beer-pong tournament title you won in a hostel bar, you can proudly show off those turtles that are now free because of you, or that new clean drinking water system, or those children who now have an education. Feel proud knowing you have made a real positive impact, and actually made the world a little bit better.

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There are a ton of incredibly worthwhile volunteering projects all across the globe. If you do your research properly, ensuring that the organisation and its projects are sustainable, well run and make a positive tangible impact, volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience, and you will leave having made a much-needed difference and alasting impression to a community or cause. As our motto at Atoll Volunteers goes, “Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer”.

For more information on the volunteer programmes we have at atoll Volunteers, visit this page; Volunteer Programmes

Two exciting new positions! Marine Biologist and Ambassador

We have two exciting positions open at Atoll Volunteers!

If you can commit to 12 months living in the beautiful Maldives, are looking for hands-on experience working with sea turtles, coral regeneration and conservation awareness, apply to be our next Marine Biologist! If you are looking for a part time role to gain valuable marketing and communications experience in your spare time at home, then apply for our Ambassador programme!

For more information and to apply to be our new Marine Biologist, follow this link: Marine Biologist 

For more information and to apply to join our Ambassador team, follow this link: Ambassador Programme

 

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Lhaviyani Turtle Festival 2017

Every year, the community of Lhaviyani Atoll come together to celebrate their Marine Wildlife and raise awareness around environmental issues, through competitions, educational presentations and cultural performances. Read on to discover the highlights from this incredible day!

On the 14th July, Naifaru Juvenile held the 2nd Annual Turtle Festival! After months of  preparation the day was finally upon us. The whole area in front our Atoll Marine Centre buzzed with excitement as the community came together to celebrate Naifaru, recycling, and of course, turtles. Passing through the entrance gateway, two giant jellyfish towered above, their tentacles of rope and plastic bottles danced in the breeze, the perfect representation of marine life and recycling in one amazing sculpture, welcoming you into the festival. Each side of the festival was lined with an array of brightly decorated stalls from schools across Lhaviyani Atoll, organisations such as Olive Ridley Project, Manta Trust and UNDP, as well as some of the Festival’s sponsors. With information, games, sculptures and crafts, each shed a little bit more light on how as a community we can protect our oceans and its wildlife. First up we had a warm welcome from our very own Marine Biologist, Zoe, outlining the purpose of the festival and challenging resorts and restaurants to make the important switch to paper straws over plastic. Over 500 million are discarded every day across the world after only an average of 20 minutes of use, leaving plastic straws littering our seas and beaches, and causing serious injuries to marine life.

The festivities went into full swing with some energetic performances from the Atoll’s children. We had been hearing the local school practicing their dance all week and it was so endearing to see how excited the children were, dancing in their handmade costumes, singing about the wonderful marine wildlife.

Turtle Festival Children dance

Presentations were given by Atoll Marine Centre around the important work they do, how to correctly handle injured turtles, and a little about our guests of honour; the turtles at our centre! Next, we had Lisa from The Manta Trust, who gave a fascinating presentation about the mysterious world of Ray’s! The children, members of the community and guests to The Maldives were able to walk around our open Marine Centre, asking questions about our turtles, such as the circumstances that brought them to us, our rehabilitation programmes and day to day life! It was a fantastic opportunity to see first hand these beautiful creatures and why they need our active protection.  We also had our own stall, providing information to fishermen, resorts and local people, crafts and games! Painting glass bottles found at the islands garbage dump and bowling made from used plastic bottles proved particularly popular. We were so impressed with the response to our bracelets and anklets made from ghost nets that they have now become a stocked item in our gift shop, proving that everything can be recycled and be made into something useful!

 

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To show the full cycle of our work, we were lucky enough to be able to release two of our turtles on the day, Luna and Lola. These two Olive Ridley’s had both arrived on the same day, after both having been caught in cement bags, resulting in flipper amputations. Everyone gathered excitedly on the beach as they lowered one by one into the sea, as we all watched as one, following their speedy progress out back into the wild. It was a beautiful moment, and the perfect example of the reasons behind The Turtle Festival.

Turtle Festival turtle release

It was then on to the judging! We had representatives from each of the schools, the police, and our very own Zoe, who had the impossible task of judging the schools on the recycled materials sculpture competition, revamped cement bags, and overall stall presentation. The standard and effort from all the schools was so impressive, they deliberated for hours! From a clown fish made from over 150 plastic bottles, to an underwater manta ray scene made from entirely recycled materials (even down to the glue!), the children truly did themselves proud! Cement bags were given a new lease of life as intricately decorated handbags, as hats, eye makes, art and a ton of other inventive ideas! We couldn’t resist buying some for ourselves, with all the money raised going straight to the children’s Nature Club!

Turtle Festival manta sculpture

After a delicious buffet at Aqqa Garden, the sun went down and we gathered around the stage to hear fabulous performances from The PalmTones, their mellow music providing the perfect soundtrack to a lovely backdrop next to the ocean. We even had a guest performance from one of our volunteers, Harry, who showed off his brilliant vocals and guitar skills. As the festival drew to a close, we walked towards the exit, back to the the giant jellyfish now illuminated by multicoloured lights. The light also shone on our newly painted wall that everyone has been contributing to throughout the day of the festival, each painting a small turtle, with their name. I looked at the vibrant mix of people; children, volunteers, resort guests, fishermen, teachers, organisations and locals, all together, all as one community, pledging to make a change and work together to protect our turtles.

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Volunteer Coordinator – Position now open!

We are looking for our next Volunteer Coordinator! – DEADLINE 13th AUGUST

Looking for experience in the conservation sector? Have a passion for marine wildlife? Want to explore paradise whilst living in a welcoming local community? Come join us in the Maldives, make a real difference and leave with memories to last a lifetime!

 

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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), marketing, 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.

Tasks

– Recruitment of international volunteers, including: posting on websites, developing content, building relationships with partner agencies and organisations and increasing Atoll Volunteers’ online presence through marketing initatives.

– 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.

Requirements

– 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 coordinator@atollvolunteers.com

The deadline for applications is the 13th of August 2017 and interviews will be held in the following week.  The starting date of the position will be around 13th December 2017.

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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.

Tasks

  • 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.

Requirements

  • 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 coordinator@atollvolunteers.com
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.

Tasks

– 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.

Requirements

– 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 coordinator@atollvolunteers.com

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.