Sea turtle saved from fish net in Maldives

This 8 October 2019 video says about itself:

Struggling Sea Turtle Saved From Fish Netting In The Maldives

“Sailing to the Baa Atoll in the Maldives with Voyages Maldives, our captain Abdula noticed a struggling turtle. I gathered my mask and fins and jumped in the ocean in a bid to save the turtle. When I got to the turtle, it was wrapped up in a fishing net and so exhausted that it didn’t put up a fight when I grabbed it. I brought the turtle back to the boat where the crew managed to cut the tangled net free.

Abdula estimated that the turtle had been struggling like this for 4-5 days and the net had cut into its neck. As seen in the video the turtle swam free. It is however very sad imagining how much marine life get caught in ocean pollution and aren’t as lucky as this little turtle.”

False killer whale research in Hawaii

This 2013 video from Ari Atoll in the Maldives is called False Killer Whales caught on tape while feeding.

From Honolulu Civil Beat in Hawaii:

Cluster of False Killer Whales Tagged for First Time Off Kona

Rare group was photographed and tagged last weekend — the first time they’d been seen in four years.

June 11, 2015

By Cliff Hahn

In an exciting encounter with an elusive group of Pseudorca (that’s “false killer whales” in non-geek terms), a team of biologists from Cascadia Research Collective were able to tag three of the cetaceans (marine species that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises) which will enable satellite tracking of their movements throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Each tag is attached remotely (smart idea) and will provide GPS coordinates 10 to 12 times a day for the next few months.

The team was also able to photograph about 20 different individuals and will compare them to an existing photo catalog. “Every adult in the population is distinctive,” says Dr. Robin Baird, a research biologist with Cascadia, the non-profit organization that is leading the research. “We’ve already discovered that one of the individuals photographed was first documented in 1986, twenty-nine years ago.”

The new tags are showing that the whales have remained off the north end of Hawaii Island and in the Alenuihahi. (Channel that separates the island of Hawaii and Maui.)

But where are they going next? That’s anyone’s guess.

False killer whales have not been studied much in the wild — which is why last weekend’s tagging is so important. In November 2012, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recognized the Hawaiian population of false killer whales, which numbers around 150 individuals, as endangered. Historically, the species was thought extinct until the discovery of a large cluster in the Baltic Sea’s Kiel Bay in 1861.

Researchers refer to false killer whale “social clusters”, which are like killer whale “pods” – long-term groupings of closely related individuals who tend to stick together. “Cluster 1” and “Cluster 3” whales are seen a few times a year. But the recently tagged whales are part of “Cluster 2” and hadn’t been seen by anyone in nearly four years. Hawaii’s false whale population is unique, since they remain within 70 miles of the state’s shore.

“We’ve been hoping to find Cluster 2 for years, but they obviously spend very little time on the leeward sides of the islands where our research is based,” says Baird. “Saturday was our last day on the water and the winds were calm, so we were able to spend time in deep water north of Kona, an area we rarely get to.”

The research project was funded by grants from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of NOAA Fisheries and the Hawaii Ocean Project, and was undertaken in collaboration with the National Marine Sanctuary.

Maldives underwater demonstration

This video is about marine life arund the Maldives islands.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Maldives: Undersea demo calls for release of former president

Monday 13th April 2015

A HUNDRED scuba divers held an underwater protest in the Maldives on Saturday, demanding the release of jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Mr Nasheed became popular as an environmental activist during his term in office.

He is serving a 13-year prison sentence for ordering the arrest and detention of a senior judge when he was in power three years ago.

The protesters dived to a depth of 16 feet near the capital Male, displaying banners reading “Free Nasheed now,” “Free the climate hero” and “Democracy in jail,” according to a statement by Nasheed aide Paul Roberts.

Mr Nasheed campaigned to raise awareness of global warming during his presidency.

The Indian Ocean archipelago nation, which lies just a few feet above sea level, is in danger of disappearing beneath the waves due to rising sea levels.

While in government, Mr Nasheed famously held an underwater cabinet meeting to dramatise the threat to his nation.

He was sentenced last month for ordering the arrest and detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed on charges of political bias and corruption.

Mr Nasheed’s trial and imprisonment has drawn widespread international criticism and cast doubt over the Maldives’ transition to democracy, which began after he was elected in 2008, ending 30 years of autocratic rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Opposition supporters insist that the case against Mr Nasheed is politically motivated and aimed at eliminating him as a potential candidate in the 2018 presidential election.

The country’s judiciary is widely perceived as loyal to the Gayoom dynasty.

Maldives raped girl anti-whipping victory

This video says about itself:

Aug 22, 2013

100 lashes sentence to Maldives girl

A 15-year-old girl who was sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex has had her punishment overturned by a Maldives court. …

The case caused outrage among rights groups who welcomed the latest ruling.

“We are relieved that the girl will be spared this inhumane ‘punishment’ based on an outrageous conviction, which we hope has also been quashed,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International‘s deputy Asia-Pacific director.

“No-one should ever be prosecuted for sex outside marriage in the first place.”

Ms Truscott said that flogging amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. She called on the Maldives government to annul all outstanding flogging sentences.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

High Court overturns flogging for raped girl

Thursday 22 August 2013

A Maldives court has overturned a public flogging sentence on a 15-year-old rape victim whose conviction sparked international outrage.

The High Court said on Wednesday that the girl had been wrongly convicted by a juvenile court of having premarital sex.

Her stepfather is on trial for her rape, though she was charged after police allegations that she had consensual sex with another man.

The court said the sentence had been based on a confession the child made while she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, adding she had been “unfit for trial.”

The Maldivian government had appealed on behalf of the teenager following an international outcry over the February sentence of 100 lashes when she reached the age of 18.

Premarital sex is illegal under Maldivian law, which is based on British common law but also has a sharia element.

Stop whipping of raped Maldives girl

This 22 August 2013 video is called Maldives girl’s 100 lashes sentence overturned.


Dear friends,

It’s horrific! A Maldives court just sentenced a 15-year-old rape survivor to 100 whip lashings. By threatening Maldives politicians’ precious tourist income we can save this child and stop these outrageous public floggings. Let’s quickly build a one million strong call, then place ads in travel magazines and websites:

It’s hard to believe, but a 15-year-old rape survivor has been sentenced to be whipped 100 times in public! Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldives government where it hurts: the tourism industry.

The girl’s stepfather is accused of raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore. Now the court says she must be flogged for “sex outside marriage”! President Waheed of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure on this, and we can force him to save this girl and change the law to spare other victims this cruel fate. This is how we can end the War on Women – by standing up every time an outrage like this happens.

Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law. Sign and forward this email now to get us to a million:

The Maldives is a paradise for tourists. But for women there, it can be hell. Under harsh interpretations of sharia law, women and children are routinely punished with flogging and house arrest if found guilty of extramarital sex or adultery. It’s nearly always the women who get punished, not the perpetrators. A staggering one in three women between ages 15 and 49 have suffered physical or sexual abuse — yet zero rapists were convicted in the past three years.

Winning this battle can help women everywhere, as the Maldives government is right now running for a top UN human rights position – on a platform of women’s rights! Global outrage has already forced President Waheed to appeal the sentence in the 15-year-old’s case. But that’s not enough. Extremists inside the country will force him to abandon further reforms if international attention fades. Let’s tell the Maldives that it stands to lose its reputation as a romantic tourist hot spot unless it changes its attitudes to and laws about women.

If enough of us raise our voices, we can get President Waheed and his MPs to face down the extremists. The president is already on the back foot over this shameful, tragic story – let’s seize this moment to prevent more horrifying injustices against girls and women. Sign the petition, then send this email widely.

Avaaz members have fought many battles in the global war on women. In Afghanistan, we helped protect a young woman who bravely spoke out about her horrific rape; in Honduras, we fought alongside local women against a law that would jail women using the morning-after pill. Let’s now protect the women of the Maldives.

With hope and determination,

Jeremy, Mary, Nick, Alex, Ricken, Laura, Michelle and the whole Avaaz team


Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for pre-marital sex (BBC)

Maldives government to appeal flogging of rape victim (Dawn, Pakistan)

Rape victims punished, failed by Maldives justice system (Minivan news, Maldives)

Judicial statistics show 90 percent of those convicted for fornication are female (Minivan news, Maldives)

Maldives police buy weapons shipment from UK-owned firm: here.

More shark conservation decided

This video is called Before It’s Too Late: Whale Shark – Gypsy of the Deep.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sharks protected by new trade law

Monday 11 March 2013

by Our Foreign Desk

Conservationists at a global wildlife conference in Bangkok voted to regulate the trade in sharks today.

Delegates at the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna adopted proposals to put the oceanic whitetip, hammerhead and porbeagle sharks on a list of species whose trade is closely controlled.

More than two dozen species of shark are officially endangered and more than 100 others are considered vulnerable.

Like manta rays, sharks are seen as valuable to nations with dive tourism industries, with island territories such as the Bahamas, Fiji and the Maldives deriving major benefits.

Eleven nations including Brazil, the US and Egypt proposed regulating trade in the species.

Shark Advocates International founder Sonja Fordham was pleased with the votes.

“These highly traded, threatened shark species urgently need protection from the unsustainable trade that jeopardises populations, ecosystems, livelihoods, and ecotourism,” she said.

Wildlife Humane Society International deputy director Rebecca Regnery added that the proposal adoptions were “the only way to truly give some of the most heavily traded species a respite from the commercial onslaught.”

Supporters said the species’ numbers have declined due to overfishing and being accidentally caught by fishermen chasing other types of fish.

While a new study warns that up to 100 million sharks are killed annually, there are signs out of China that demand for fin may be on the decline: here.

Tourists’ whale shark photos help scientists

This 2017 video from Tanzania is called Investigating the Mysterious Whale Sharks of Mafia Island | National Geographic.

From Wildlife Extra:

Scientists using holiday snaps to identify whale sharks

Holiday snaps could be a major research tool

February 2013. Holidaymakers’ photos could help scientists track the movements of giant endangered sharks living in the waters of the Indian Ocean. A new study, led by a researcher from Imperial College London, is the first to show that these publically sourced photographs are suitable for use in conservation work.

Tourists scuba diving and snorkelling in the Maldives frequently take underwater pictures of the spectacular and docile whale shark, the world’s largest fish. Conservationists have long hoped to use this photographic resource to help them trace the sharks’ life history, relationships and geographic distribution, although the value of these amateur snapshots has never been properly measured.

Tim Davies of Imperial’s Department of Life Sciences is the lead author on a study published in Wildlife Research, the first to examine how reliable photographs sourced from the public actually are. He and his team did this by comparing results using tourist images with results based on surveys by marine researchers specifically aiming to track the sharks.

Spot pattern used for ID

In order for a shark to be clearly identified, any photograph must capture the distinctive pattern of spots located directly behind the gills. This unique marking serves as a ‘fingerprint’, which can then be scanned with a computer programme to tell the animals apart.

85% id success

The study looked at hundreds of images taken by the public, of which many were downloaded from image-sharing websites such as Flickr and YouTube. Individual whale sharks could be successfully identified in 85 per cent of cases, surprisingly close to the 100 per cent identification possible in photographs taken by researchers.

Speaking about the results, Davies said: “Globally, this outcome provides strong support for the scientific use of photographs taken by tourists for whale shark monitoring. Hopefully, this will give whale shark research around the world confidence in using this source of free data. In the Maldives in particular, where whale shark tourism is well established and very useful for collecting data from throughout the archipelago, our results suggest that whale shark monitoring effort should be focused on collecting tourist photographs.”

Although they are widely thought to be rare, the conservation status of the whale shark has long remained uncertain. This study therefore allowed the team to measure the populations of whale sharks in the area, which they estimate have not declined in recent years. Davies added: “Hopefully, as more data come in from tourists over the years and from further across the archipelago, we will be able to build up our understanding of the Maldives population and monitor its status closely.”

Holidaymakers heading to the Maldives, as well as to other regions, can assist researchers in monitoring whale shark populations by uploading their shark photos to the ECOCEAN whale shark identification library website (

For more information on Maldivian whale shark visit the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme website.

March 2013. Plans to capture and keep some Whale sharks in an enclosure off the south coast ok Kenya threatens Kenya’s hard fought for reputation as a responsible tourism destination. Under the sham pretence of conservation, the company involved is hoping to make money from visits and people paying to swim with whale sharks.

May 2013. A new-born Whale shark pup that was recently freed by fishermen from nets in the Indian state of Gujarat has provided a clue that that the world’s largest fish may be breeding off the coast of Gujarat: here.

Dragonfly migration across Indian Ocean discoveries

From the BBC:

Longest insect migration revealed

Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

Every year, millions of dragonflies fly thousands of kilometres across the sea from southern India to Africa.

So says a biologist in the Maldives, who claims to have discovered the longest migration of any insect.

If confirmed, the mass exodus would be the first known insect migration across open ocean water.

It would also dwarf the famous trip taken each year by Monarch butterflies, which fly just half the distance across the Americas.

Biologist Charles Anderson has published details of the mass migration in the Journal of Tropical Ecology.

Each year, millions of dragonflies arrive on the Maldive Islands, an event which is well known to people living there.

“But no-one I have spoken to knew where they came from,” says Anderson, an independent biologist who usually works with organisations such as the Darwin Initiative to survey marine life around the islands.

Their appearance is especially peculiar because the 1200 islands that make up the Maldives lie 500 to 1000km from the mainland of southern India, and all are coral cays with almost no surface freshwater, which dragonflies need to complete their lifecycle.

So in 1983, Anderson started collecting data on the timing of the dragonflies’ arrival.

He then made records each year from 1996 to 2008, and collated data collected by local observers at other localities in the Maldives and India from 2002 to 2008, and on three boats in the Indian Ocean during 1983 and 1996.

When Anderson compared these observations with those made of dragonflies appearing in southern India, he found a clear progression of arrival dates from north to south, with dragonflies arriving first in southern India, then in the Republic of Maldives’ capital Male, and then on more southern atolls.

Each year, dragonflies first appear in Male between 4 and 23 October, with a mean arrival date of 21 October. Dragonfly numbers peak in November and December, before the insects then disappear once more. The insects arrive in waves, with each staying for no more than a few days.

Over 98% of the dragonflies recorded on the islands are Globe skimmers (Pantala flavescens), but Pale-spotted emperors (Anax guttatus), Vagrant emperors (A. ephippiger), Twisters (Tholymis tillarga) and Blue perchers (Diplacodes trivialis) also appear in some numbers.

The dragonflies then reappear between April and June.

Longest journey

The dragonflies are clearly migrating from India across the open sea to the Maldives, says Anderson.

“That by itself is fairly amazing, as it involves a journey of 600 to 800km across the ocean,” he says.

Quite how they do it remains to be confirmed, as in early October at least they appear to be flying against the prevailing winds.

However, come November and December, their movements coincide with the southerly movement of a weather system called the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone, which produces winds at an altitude of more than 1000m.

Anderson suspects the insects ride these winds south, and stop off in the Maldives.

But that is not the end of the animals’ epic adventure.

“As there is no freshwater in Maldives for dragonflies, what are they doing here?” asks Anderson.

“I have also deduced that they are flying all the way across the western Indian Ocean to East Africa.”

Anderson has gathered a wealth of circumstantial evidence to back his claim.

Large numbers of dragonflies also start appearing in the northern Seychelles, some 2700km from India, in November, and then in Aldabra in the Seychelles, 3800km from India, in December.

That matches the south-easterly movement of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone weather system.

It is also known that Globe skimmers appear in large numbers through eastern and southern Africa.

In Uganda, they appear twice each year in March or April and again in September, while further south in Tanzania and Mozambique they appear in December and January.

Record breakers

That strongly suggest that the dragonflies take advantage of the moving weather systems and monsoon rains to complete an epic migration from southern India to east and southern Africa, and then likely back again, a round trip of 14,000 to 18,000km.

“The species involved breeds in temporary rainwater pools. So it is following the rains, taking sequential advantage of the monsoon rains of India, the short rains of East Africa, the summer rains of southern Africa, the long rains of East Africa, and then back to India for the next monsoon,” says Anderson.

“It may seem remarkable that such a massive migration has gone unnoticed until now. But this just illustrates how little we still know about the natural world.”

The monarch butterfly is often cited as having the longest migration of any insect, covering around 7000km in an annual round trip from Mexico to southern Canada.

On average, it takes four generations of butterflies to complete the journey.

Anderson believes that the dragonflies survive the ocean flights by gliding on the winds, feeding on other small insects.

They too, take four generations to make the full round trip each year.

He says the migratory paths of a number of insect-eating bird species, including cuckoos, nightjars and bee-eaters, follow that of the dragonfly migration, from southern India to their wintering grounds in Africa. That suggests the birds feed on the dragonflies as they travel.

“They [fly] at the same time and altitudes as the dragonflies. And what has not been realised before is that all are medium-sized birds that eat insects, insects the size of dragonflies,” he says.

Extraordinary ability

“There are earlier records of swarms of Globe skimmers flying out to sea, and at sea,” Anderson continues.

“But it was always assumed that those dragonflies were doomed. Which says rather more about our earth-bound lack of imagination than it does about the globe skimmers’ extraordinary flying abilities.”


Globe skimmers are renowned for their ability to fly long-distances
They can fly up to 6300m high, the highest of any dragonfly species
With a tailwind of 10m per second, a dragonfly could cross from India to Male in 24 hours
Maldivians consider the dragonflies’ arrival to be a harbinger of the north-east monsoon

See also here.

Dragonflies of Nieuwkoopse Plassen, the Netherlands: here.

Mediterranean dragonflies, damselflies, threatened: here.

Butterfly migration in the Netherlands: here.

Female monarch butterflies on 30-year decline in eastern North America: here.

From Discovery News:

Millions of Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico for the winter and scientists have long speculated on how the insects find their way. Turns out, their antennas are the key.

How do we know? Well, researchers painted butterfly antennas black, and the insects got lost.

Bristletails: here.

How migrating butterflies and moths reach speeds of 90kph: here.

Flying insects tell tales of long-distance migrations. Well-timed travel ensures food and breeding opportunities. ByAlexandra Witze, 6:00am, April 5, 2018.

Migrating insects use the wind to blow them home: here.

Singapore damselflies: here.

New manta ray species discovered

This is a video of a manta ray, recorded during a night in Bora Bora.

From Wildlife Extra:

Manta Rays are two distinct species

Save our seas foundation marine biologist Andrea Marshall discovers a new manta ray species

July 2008. A second, and even possibly a third, species of manta ray has been discovered in the World’s oceans. This is the biggest news to date to come out of ray research, and its importance is the marine equivalent of discovering an unknown species of elephant. The discovery however, has implications that go far beyond the breaking news of scientific journals, as it will deeply affect real world conservation ideas and policies.

For the past five years the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) has sponsored Andrea Marshall, a PhD marine biologist in a quest to make advances in the scientific knowledge of these winged beauties of the sea, whose large triangular pectoral fins can span almost 8m in width and whose weight can reach over 2000kg. Manta rays, which are totally harmless and do not possess a stinging barb, are the largest of over 500 different species of rays and skates, and although divers have noted variations in physical appearance they were previously believed to be the same kind.

After suspecting the existence of a second species Andrea began studying other populations across the globe. Through genetic and morphological analysis she confirmed that there is indeed a second, and possibly a third, species of manta ray that exists across temperate, tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. The two species have mainly overlapping distributions, but their lifestyles differ greatly; one is migratory and the other is resident to particular areas along the coast. Other differences between the two species lie in their colour, skin texture, reproductive biology, and the presence of a non-functioning type of sting on the tail of one of the species.

‘Residential’ Manta Rays – at risk

The smaller, more commonly known manta ray resides in the same areas year round and is often encountered at coral reefs where they congregate to be cleaned by parasite-eating fish in locations such as Hawaii, the Maldives, Mozambique, Australia, Japan and the Island of Yap. Due to their residential nature they face a grave threat from unsustainable fisheries, as other manta rays will not replace a dwindling population, making their regional extinction a likely possibility.

Migratory Manta rays

Much less is known about the larger species, as it appears to be more migratory and elusive, shying away from divers rather than seeking interaction as its smaller cousin often does. Andrea has only ever witnessed it arriving at sea-mounts or at particularly productive areas along the coastline to feed on plankton before disappearing into the blue once again. Little is known about its behaviour or migratory patterns, though it appears to be targeted heavily by fisheries, particularly in Southeast Asia, where thousands are killed each year.

The once secret life of a huge, recently discovered species of manta ray has been unveiled: here.

While new names are added to marine species lists, some others have to go:

July 2007. Census of Marine Life-affiliated scientists consolidating world databases of ocean organisms have demoted to alias status almost one-third of all names culled from 34 regional and highly specialized inventories.

The new World Register of Marine Species ( contains about 122,500 validated marine species names (experts having recognized and tidied up some 56,400 aliases – 32% of all names reviewed). It also contains some 5,600 images, hyperlinks to taxonomic literature and other information. …

56 names for the same species!

Some species, such as those reclassified in years past based on new information, were shown to have a handful of names or more. In such cases, the oldest name trumps later ones to become the valid name (though all aliases are noted to help researchers interpret centuries of scientific literature).

Popularly called Breadcrumb Sponge, Halichondria panicea is the marine world’s reigning champion of Latin aliases, with 56 synonyms appearing in taxonomic literature since its first description in 1766. Of no fixed address, it’s known to frequent floats, pilings, and the underside of rocks, smells like exploded gunpowder and takes on many appearances (as shown in photos). It is also known as (AKA): Alcyonium manusdiaboli (1794), Spongia compacta (1806), Halichondria albescens (1818), Seriatula seriata (1826), Hymeniacidon brettii (1866), Pellina bibula (1870), Amorphina appendiculata (1875), Isodictya crassa (1882), Microciona tumulosa (1882), Menanetia minchini (1896), Trachyopsilla glaberrima (1931) and 44 other names.


No researcher’s work is spared – not even Carl Linnaeus, who in the 1750s overcame an international scientific Tower of Babel when it came to naming species. He instituted the two-word Latin name, starting with the (capitalized) genus, followed by a (lowercase) specific epithet, a system used ever since. Thanks to his method of binominal nomenclature, what is dubbed a bulot in French fish markets, whelk in New England, buccin in Canada, and the Wellhornschnecke of the North Sea, is known universally to scientists as Buccinum undatum.

However, over time it emerged that Linnaeus assigned four names to the same species of sperm whale, a mistake caught years ago but which still appears in world literature and databases. The World Register will clarify for all time the valid name for that whale and all other marine species for future researchers, census takers and educators alike.

Waste in the Maldives: here.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Manta Rays Leap 9ft Out of Water Into the Air: here.

July 2010: Dr Andrea Marshall – known as Queen of the Mantas from the BBC’s 2009 documentary film – has attached a satellite tag to a giant four metre manta ray off the coast of South America: here.

Manta and mobula rays are ecotourism gold, but fishing to feed the traditional Chinese medicine trade is threatening both groups, according to a new report published jointly by conservation organisations Shark Savers and WildAid: here.

Manta Rays Fate Worse Than Sharks: here.

Victory! Stops Selling Manta Ray Products: here.

First satellite tag study for manta rays reveals habits and hidden journeys of ocean giants: here.

February 2013. Delegates to the CITES conference in Bangkok have the opportunity to stem the trade in manta ray parts, specifically gill-rakers, and protect vulnerable manta populations. Charismatic manta rays can generate tens of millions of dollars annually through ecotourism if the destructive trade in their gill-rakers is stemmed say proponents: here.

USA: torpedo ray beaches.

North Sea rays: here.